Form counts for nothing – Tisdale
Paul Tisdale is not usually a man to adhere to footballing cliches, but even he admits the form book will be "thrown out of the window" ahead of today's Devon derby between Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle.
On paper, the seventh-placed Grecians start as favourites and are in good form having won four of the last six. Argyle travel having picked up their first win in ten attempts at home to York City last weekend, but Tisdale is reading nothing into past results.
"I think that whoever the derby is between, there are certain things that apply and that is that league form will not have an impact in the game," he said. "Home or away, there is so much atmosphere and excitement within the game that sometimes, anything can happen.
"I am well aware it is going to be a very interesting game and I am well aware that there will be plenty of energy and passion from the supporters.
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"I am urging my players to remember their jobs and do the right things regardless, but I agree that it is not always a good indication to look at the league form going into the actual game."
The Grecians' squad boasts plenty of derby experience, but not all of that comes in Devon ones. Steve Tully will be appearing in his 21st Devon Derby, having played 13 times for Torquay against both City and Argyle prior to joining the Grecians.
The likes of Kevin Amankwaah, Tommy Doherty, Danny Coles and Jamie Cureton have all experienced Bristol derbies; Pat Baldwin played for Colchester against Southend, while Matt Oakley played for Leicester and Derby in Midland clashes. Tisdale hopes that such experience will stand his side in good stead today.
"The players have to be disciplined and do the right things at the right time," Tisdale said. "Psychology of sport is so important. These type of games will highlight and magnify any crack in your armoury.
"How you think, how you prepare and how you control yourself and your emotions – and doing simple things in a game – will be evident when you play in a local derby.
"I have to try and get the players to appreciate the game that they are playing and they have to be respectful of the match for their own supporters, as well as everyone else.
"When it comes to actually playing in the game, they have to concentrate on doing their job.
"I think any player that has played in a derby will gain experience from what not to do as well as what to do. Simple things done well are often key in these games."
Tisdale, too, has experience of Devon derbies against both Plymouth and Torquay, who Exeter face next in seven days time. He more than anyone knows what it means to the club, so for someone so meticulous with his planning, does he approach a derby game differently to any other?
"I think we have to establish within our own group the pros and cons of doing that," he explains. "When it comes to discussing the derby and breaking that down, is it going to help us in our analysis off the back of it? I don't think it is as black and white as that.
"It depends on the players you have and it might be just what we need. On the other hand, it might be detrimental to do that and that is for me – as I would do with any game – to discuss and debate with the coaches the tone of our game, the tone of our preparation.
"We have discussed how we are going to prepare for this game and the tune of our preparation, but I am not going to divulge that information."
One thing Exeter are keen to improve on is their home form, which has been consistently inconsistent this season. In ten league games, the Grecians have only won only three, but Tisdale feels sure home troubles will vanish soon.
"It is an irritation, but I don't think we should look too deeply into it," he said. "There are some things that are very different between home and away matches and we have found those differences to our liking away from home.
"We have to discover our form at home and a lot of it is trial and error.
"If you look back to our last season in League Two, it is a very similar pattern. We struggled to pick up wins in the first half of the season at home and over the course of the season, we began to focus our play in certain areas and that is what I will be doing again in the second half of this season, starting on Saturday."
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Cureton, Doherty, Amankwaah, O'Flynn, Bauza, Keohane, Chamberlain, Dawson, Moore-Taylor, Jagger-Cane, Micklewright, Roper, Wannell.
Unavailable: Gosling, Frear, Knowles, Nichols (out on loan).