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Stephen Bradley Relishing The Chance To Test Himself Against The Best

Stephen Bradley Relishing The Chance To Test Himself Against The Best
By Gary Connaughton

As a football manager, it must be a privilege to be given the opportunity to test yourself against the very best. Pitting your wits against the cream of the crop has to offer a huge thrill.

That is something that Stephen Bradley will get to do tonight.

The Shamrock Rovers boss has come up against some top quality opposition during his four years in charge of the club, both home and abroad. However, the visit of AC Milan to Tallaght Stadium offer an altogether different challenge.

The Italian side are on the premier clubs in European football, making this match a massive occasion. Speaking to members of the media this week, Bradley admitted that while this would be a huge day, his side had to treat it like any other game.

Yeah, it’s brilliant. Tactically, you have to be really on it. You have to prepare totally different to the way you do in the League, week to week.

Playing against players like Ibrahimovic you have to make sure you’re tactically switched on. It’s fantastic for coaches, managers, players...

We’ve got to approach it as another game. The difficulty of the game has gone up levels but we’ve to approach it as another game. We’ll watch it, analyse it and prepare for it like we do any other game.

You have to do it that way. We’re up a level but it’s 11 v 11 on the pitch.

This could be a good time to face Milan. They have yet to return to competitive action this season, with a only a pair of friendly games under their belt to this point.

In contrast, Shamrock Rovers have played eight competitive fixtures since the start of August. They're in good form too, going unbeaten over this period. It's something their manager thinks will give them an extra edge.

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That will definitely stand to us, the competitive games we’ve played. Fitness will only take you so far. You’ve got to be switched on for the quality they bring.

We’ve got to be ready to try and hurt them with your own qualities. We know it’s going to be difficult. We know they’ve some really talented players, top team we know all that. But we feel we can cause any team problems, going forward...

The two [AC Milan] full-backs play like wingers, the sitting midfielder has a left foot that can pick a pass from 60 yards. The wingers play really high, and run inside. They’ve so much quality. The right centre-back passes like a central midfielder.

But that’s what you’re up against when you go up the levels. That’s the quality we’re in.

Image credit: Sportsfile

Bradley has experience of playing big Italian opposition. He was part of the Shamrock Rovers side that faced Juventus in 2010, losing 3-0 on aggregate.

The one-off nature of this tie will perhaps offer a better chance of progression, but it will still be a monumental task. The Irish side will certainly be well prepared.

It’s a big game. It’s AC Milan. But for me I just treat it as the next game, we have to prepare.

We have to watch them. We have to look at their strengths, we have to find their weaknesses. That’s genuinely the way that I approach it. I don’t get too excited about it, i don’t get too down about any game. It’s just: Next game.

That’s the way I always approach it. That’s the way I am in training. Or in the dressing room. And this is no different. It’s going to be fantastic. Unfortunately we can’t have our fans here. Because they are the ones who support us every week, who put their hands in their pockets so it’s really unfortunate that they can’t be here to see it but for me? It’s the next game.

See Also: Jack Byrne Ready To Thrive Under Weight Of Expectation Against AC Milan 

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