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Gally’s A Harsh Self Critic

22 December 2016

Some people in life believe in their own hype, others don’t believe in themselves enough.

For North End midfielder Paul Gallagher, he says that he is well aware when he needs to push himself and is striving for even more of an improvement in the second half of the season.

The Lilywhites No.12 sat down with The One And Only prior to Christmas and reflected on the first half of the campaign and feels that he didn’t hit his straps until after a little kick up the backside.

“At the start of season I wasn’t too happy with my own form,” he told the matchday programme. “I was starting, but I didn’t think I was playing at the level I can play at.

“That’s me being honest, I don’t live on the clouds and think I’m the best player. If I am having a bad time I know in myself; that’s my character, so that I know I really need to push myself.

“I give 100 per cent every time I cross that white line, either training or on a matchday and I don’t need anyone to tell me if I am not doing the right job, I know myself and so it was down to me to stick my chest out.

“As one of the most experienced players in the team I need to lead by example, as some of the younger players look up to me as a role model, so I knew I had to do everything right, as I always do, but in myself I knew my performances had not reached the standards that I set myself last season. However, in the last month and a bit, after I missed a game with a dead leg, it hurt me sitting on the bench – I don’t like that – so it made me want to get back in and get back to the level I was last season and in the last few games I think I managed to pick it up and we went on a really good run.

“The whole team started to pick up and maybe it just takes one person to lift a team and then the positivity bounces off other players. We have a lot of young players as well as experienced players, so there is a good balance in the squad and it is up to us older players to push the younger ones along, but they also push you as well because they want your place in the team, which is great to have.

“I have been pleased with my contribution in the last few weeks though; I have been coming up with assists, that are part of my game, it’s something that I enjoy doing and as well as I do that, then I am doing my job.”

We’re now smack bang in the middle of the season and also right in the thick of the fun of the festive fixtures, something the 32-year-old loves to be a part of.

“Growing up, even before I was a professional footballer, I used to love the Christmas period. I used to go on watch Blackburn, who were in the Premier League then, so it used to be against big teams and it was a great time to go and watch football. There were big crowds and in that festive period there are lots of games in quick succession.

“I know some people want a winter break, but this is one of the best parts of the season, because of so many big games and if you come through this stage of the season you know you are on the back strait.

“We have some big games coming up and I am sure the fans are excited as much as the players. For us though it is the old cliché; you have to concentrate on one game at a time, because if you get too far ahead of yourself, looking ahead to maybe an Arsenal, you can take your eye off the main priority, which is the league.

“The manager is down to earth, he won’t let any player look too far ahead, he will make sure they are concentrating on each game as it comes and when the Arsenal game arrives then we can look at that one, it is another game, but we have a lot of important league games before then and if we can come through this period with a lot of points, we can stand ourselves in good stead for that final push.

“We did a similar thing two years ago when we played Manchester United. I will never forget that came away at Crawley where people were getting upset and I remember going over to the fans and saying ‘don’t worry, there’s still a long way to go’ and after that we played Sheffield United away and we then went on an unbelievable run; we didn’t lose until the last day of the season – the most important one probably! But that is the sort of character we have in the dressing room; everyone in here believes in what we can do, so if we can get back on something like that, it will be a hell of a run.

“The run we had before in October and November was incredible, but we will try and have another one.

“We always try to put runs together and, as I have mentioned, when we have had a setback, we have gone on a good run – I’m not suggesting we will do the same again, but we will do our best. If you have a run like that you will be near the top of the division and that is where we want to be.
 
“Since I have been here they have been fantastic years, some of the most enjoyable of my career and I say that having had a decent career at some good clubs, but you look what we have done here, it has been incredible.

“When I came, the season before they were lingering at the bottom of League One – I live in the area, so I know what the situation was – but to come from there to now in a short period of time is incredible.

“As a football club we should all be proud of the club and the team, because of where we have come from and where we have got to and I just want to be a part of something successful here.

“Possibly the highlight of my career was winning at Wembley and I want to try and win something else before I retire.

“I know it might be a long way away, but I want to win trophies and promotions and get this club to where we want to be,” he added.

There’s loads more from Gally in the penultimate 100-page edition of The One And Only of 2016. We also interviews with Sean Gregan and Leeds United’s Charlie Taylor, plus features with Aiden McGeady, John Welsh, Alex Baptiste, Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington!

There’s also all our regular features and plenty on our opponents and the programme will be on sale from Boxing Day from the Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office or from sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday.


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