FC Halifax Town: "It's definitely up there with one of the happiest times of my career" - Warburton revelling in his central role with Shaymen

It's no wonder Matty Warburton is revelling in his role at FC Halifax Town.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 9:24 am
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 9:24 am
Matty Warburton. Photo: Marcus Branston

The Shaymen's style of short, quick passing, movement, linking play and dominating the ball is perfectly suited to the forward's strengths.

Niall Maher and Billy Waters are the only outfield players to have started more league games than Warburton, who has been a central figure, literally, for Town this season, playing in his preferred position as a number ten, and acting as the conduit for a lot of attacks, helping to bring others into play and create chances for team-mates.

"I've loved it. It's the first time in a few years that I can say I'm really enjoying my football," he said.

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"It's been a tough couple of years but playing under Pete and Milly, and with the lads we have, I'm thoroughly enjoying my time at the moment.

"I've won promotion with Stockport, which was a great time, but there's potential for something special here.

"We've gone under the radar a bit, which is nice and takes a bit of the pressure off.

"But it's definitely up there with one of the happiest times of my career from a playing perspective.

"It's just the freedom Pete and Milly have given me, and the trust they've shown in me, from playing me regularly.

"It's no secret that, if you know me, when I'm playing, I'm happy, I like to be involved in the game, assisting, scoring.

"We've got a great mixture of youth and experience here, we train really well throughout the week and when it comes to game-day, you can see what we've been working on, and that's been paying off in performances and results."

On his role in the team, Warburton said: "I'm playing as a number ten and my job is to link play between midfield and get it up to our attackers.

"In terms of the way we play, the number ten is imperative, you have to try and get on the ball as much as possible and make things happen.

"I'm hoping the fans are seeing that. There's a few things I definitely need to improve on where I watch my clips back and think 'I could have done that better'.

"I'm really pleased with how many assists I've got, I think in all competitions I've got eight or nine.

"Playing as a ten, you're expected to be involved in that, but the other side of it is that I want to score more goals."

Have Town fans seen the best of Warburton yet?

"I want to say no, because I think there's always room for improvement," he said.

"I feel like every time I do put on a Halifax shirt that I'll work and work and work, give my all for the club.

"But have the fans seen me at my best yet? I'm going to say no because I want to get better, I want to improve on the last performance.

"At the moment, I want to make sure I stay in the team, and contribute as much as I can."

Looking at Town's style of play, it's easy to see why Warburton was recruited in the summer, with his strengths as a player meaning he has slotted seamlessly into Halifax's system.

"It's been worked on since the first week I was here, our patterns of play, the style that wants to be employed," Warburton said.

"From the very get-go, that was almost drilled into the lads in terms of the style of football.

"What Pete and Milly want is to go out there and enjoy what they're watching, and to get results from it.

"It is nailed down in training and it's done quite regimented at times, but as lads, we all know that when it comes to game-day, what our roles are on and off the ball and how we want to play.

"If we stray away from that, then sometimes you can see a bit of frustration, but on the whole this year, it's worked really well.

"When you look at who we've signed this year as well, they're all good footballers who all want the ball to feet and want to play that style of football.

"If we did go direct, I'd say that arguably wouldn't suit 90 per cent of the lads in our team.

"What the management team have done so well is employ lads who want to play and are good at playing in the style they've been given.

"They've signed lads, like me, Billy (Waters), Harvey (Gilmour) and Jordan (Slew) who possibly didn't get as much football as they wanted last year and have got a point to prove."

Warburton says The Shaymen are capable of mixing things up though, and adapting when teams try to stifle them.

"You can already see that in games this year, and I think it's a massive complement to us when teams will change their style and their formation," he said.

"It's happened a number of times this year, but what we're good at, and what the management are particularly good at, is anticipating how teams will change against us.

"We work on secondary styles in terms of what happens if a team does sit in with five or seven at the back, as Pontefract did, how di we break them down, what are we going to do.

"I think it's a huge complement to us because they're looking at us thinking 'well they've got something good going on, so we need to change'."

Warburton believes there is more to come from Halifax, despite their hugely impressive season to date.

"I think there's always improvements to be made, and what you've got to look at at the moment is the strength-in-depth we've got.

"You look at the quality that's been on the bench and you think 'how are they not getting in the team?'.

"I do think at the moment it's definitely a work in progress, we're definitely not 100 per cent where we want to be, and I think it's a danger if you do think you're 100 per cent there, and you've mastered it.

"All I have to do every now and then to remind myself that I'm lucky to be playing is just look at the bench and think 'wow, there's a lot of quality there, a lot of experience'.

"I think there's definitely more to come from us."

And in the short-term Warburton is confident Town can put their bitterly disappointing FA Cup defeat at Kidderminster behind them by getting a result at Wealdstone on Saturday.

"After the defeat against Wrexham, the gaffer said that we've always bounced back with a win, so I don't see why not," he said.

"Sunday was a real tough day at the office for us, a pretty sombre dressing room after the final whistle.

"We've got to make sure we have a good week's training behind us this week and make sure that when we go into Saturday, which will be tough, they're fighting down there to get as many points as possible so it'll be a tricky away day, but we need to make sure we remember the basics, remember what we're good at, and most of all, go down there and perform.

"If we perform like we can, we stand a chance of winning every game.

"So hopefully the fact that we have bounced back after every defeat comes true again."