Fighter John Askey: If somebody kicks me I'll kick them back harder
“I might not say a lot, but if somebody kicks me I’ll kick them harder – I’ll always come back having a go.”
John Askey pulled no punches this week as he responded to questions regarding the pressure he is under at Shrewsbury Town.
The above statement is significant to Salop fans as Askey, a quiet and reserved man who is short and sweet with words rather than lengthy and convoluted, hit the nail on the head.
He came out swinging with the short statement. A warning of intent that he won’t roll over at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
When asked if he was a fighter, Askey replied: “You don’t stay in the game as long as I have if you’re not.”
The Macclesfield legend is right. You don’t spend three-and-a-half decades in the professional game without fight.
Town fans don’t expect to see Askey squaring up with Salford boss Graham Alexander for fisticuffs at dawn in Sunday’s FA Cup tie – but when the pressure’s on, any supporters want to see their leader fighting for their position.
Askey’s players certainly fought on the pitch last weekend at AFC Wimbledon. The boss had said it was do or die beforehand – and things looked bleak at the break.
But thanks to a half-time rallying cry by the management, assisted by Mat Sadler, Anthony Grant and Luke Waterfall – Shrewsbury’s experienced leaders – they turned it around.
It was a comforting sight for supporters to see Town players roll their sleeves up and go ‘till the death to seal a precious win.
It was only the third time in 17 league games that Askey’s men have scored after the 80th minute.
That desire – that was questioned by Askey after the recent 3-0 disaster at Oxford – is something Shrewsbury must continue showing if things are to improve.
And Askey’s fighting talk will be well-received by supporters, but only if it is backed up where it truly matters, across the white line.
When the manager was asked if Saturday’s last-gasp rally and subsequent wild celebrations were in support of his position, he responded: “I’ve never thought that the players weren’t (fighting).
“If you look at the games from the start of the season to now, the only game I’ve been really disappointed in is Oxford, which was a dire game from not only ourselves but Oxford as well.
“Apart from that I’ve not been too unhappy with how the players have performed and the work rate.”
Askey has always held the view that his Shrewsbury side have not been far off a decent run of form.
Still, as they sit 18th in League One, they are just a win away from potentially climbing to 14th.
“It was a situation that we needed to win, especially to stay out the bottom four, but it’s so tight,” added the boss.
“If you can get on a two or three-match winning run you can soon get into mid-table and look upwards and not downwards.
“It’s fine lines at times, we just need to be a little bit more consistent. If we can find that consistency then there’s no reason we can’t get on a good run.”
But for now Askey and Shrewsbury have their minds firmly focused on non-league big-hitters Salford in the FA Cup.
While a welcome break from league action, Sunday’s 12.45pm kick-off is a tie that Askey can ill-afford any slip-ups in.
He said: “We hope that the players are going to turn up and put a good performance to get the supporters behind them.
“To have a good cup run always gives the club a lift. To get into the third round and listen out for one of the big boys would be fantastic.”