Ardley revolution relies on freedom of expression

Freedom of expression: Jim Fenlon is enjoying having the freedom to play football without the risk of reprisal   SP70799

Freedom of expression: Jim Fenlon is enjoying having the freedom to play football without the risk of reprisal SP70799

First published in AFC Wimbledon Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

AFC Wimbledon defender Jim Fenlon says the new coaching regime is all about the players expressing themselves without fear of reprisal.

The 18-year-old, who is becoming a regular in Neal Ardley’s revolution, says the players are buying into the philosophy that making mistakes is part of football, but playing with freedom and bravery will bring results.

And so it proved on Tuesday night when Dons’ rampant first-half display took Bristol Rovers to the League Two cleaners. An own goal and a Rashid Yussuf brace had the visitors 3-0 down inside half an hour.

Rovers’ consolation goal with 20 minutes left was spectacular, but Tom Parkes’ sending off put paid to any unlikely fightback.

Fenlon, pictured right, said: “The boss wants us to express ourselves and he doesn’t care if we make mistakes as long as we’re getting on the ball and trying to make things happen.

“He doesn’t like it when you’re hiding, he wants you on the ball. It brings out the best in us because he makes us feel more confident.”

Rovers’ goal came after a mistake by Curtis Osana, giving Fenlon the perfect example of the team’s new ethos.

He said: “Curtis was trying to make things happen. Normally we might have had a go at him, but now it’s more like ‘Keep your head up’.”

Ardley wants his players to be braver on the ball and during the Rovers win, when his  men started looking edgy, he was visibly urging them to calm down.

He said: “Even at 3-0 up we had a spell when we didn’t want to pass to eachother – that comes from when you’re down at the bottom and you’re not in the winning habit.

“It is not easy, I keep telling them that they can make mistakes. As long as they are trying to play right and they want the ball, I don’t have a problem with it. I want them to be braver.”

The Dons host League Two leaders Gillingham this weekend.

Ardley said: “It will be a tough game, no doubt about it, which is why tonight was very important. Hopefully, with the crowd behind us, we can make it two out of two.”

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