Steve Cotterill hails Shrewsbury Town spirit
Character, grit, team spirit.
They are just four words that Steve Cotterill and his players have used to describe what has helped bring them some early season successes.
But Cotterill has revealed that wasn’t always the case – and since he arrived at the club in November 2020, he has had to take time to mould the group of players he now has.
By his own admission, Cotterill explained that when he arrived at the club, something ‘wasn’t quite right’ in the dressing room.
But he wasn’t around long enough in his early days to identify what was wrong – as he was soon taken into hospital after contracting Covid-19.
Despite that, he explained how he will never forget the effort those players put in for him while he was fighting for his life in hospital.
“The amount of time it has taken to change the group as a whole, I think that has been hard work, but in a different way,” explained the Salop boss. “What I mean is when I came in, I was not sure where the dressing room was at.
“I happened to have a good month but I wasn’t here long enough to see what wasn’t quite right.
“Something wasn’t quite right but in the next breath they all went out on a matchday and worked their socks off for me when I couldn’t be with them.
“And I will never, ever forget that group of players for that, never ever.
“I would probably say this group here now are the most comfortable they have been with each other, and that isn’t saying I wasn’t comfortable with the first group or the one we had last year.
“And it isn’t detriment to the other boys, those boys have been here and worked really, really hard for the last two years.”
Having a tight-knit squad has been one of the foundations for Cotterill’s success in the past.
When asked about how the current squad he has now stacks up against some of his former sides, he reflected on how it helped at Cheltenham when he took them from non-league to what is now League One, and his title-winning side at Notts County in 2010.
Salop have used that character and spirit already at times this year – coming from behind against Wycombe and battling back in their 2-1 win over Burton.
It will be needed many, many more times again this season according to the Salop boss, who insists when you get a solid dressing room it is something you need to ‘cherish’.
“I’ve got to say I’ve been quite lucky, I’ve had some good teams over the years with some good spirit, then I have gone to other clubs and inherited not very good team spirit,” Cotterill explained. “So when you get it, you have to cherish it a bit.
“I have been lucky, at Cheltenham I had great spirit there, I would say Notts County we had it there too, but it needed harnessing a bit, it was a but wild but it was good. Bristol City too, it is about sometimes when you can put together what you want to put together.
“Managers go into jobs these days, sometimes when they go in you think he is going to do well to survive there.
“That is because, sometimes if the dressing room is broken it is really difficult to turn around.
“Spirit is really, really important, I can’t emphasis how important it it is because throughout the season you will come up against it, no matter what. You come up against it and you are always tested, your team ethic and mentality and team ethic is tested.
“If you go into a broken dressing room, you can turn it around but it is really, really hard.”