Can Bristol City Be the Turning Point?
It needs to be, doesn’t it? I say last week, the second 45 minutes obviously, it could be one of those moments that turns things around for us. It wasn’t three points, but nevertheless I think the second half performance was very gutsy.
But, that has to be across the game, across 90 minutes if we’re going to pull away from where we are. If you’re going to take a point away to Bristol City it was better than a 0-0 or a 1-1, obviously.
We were so far out of in the first half and then to come back from that, we showed a lot of good signs. I think as well, the support we had in the second half from the supporters, even when we were 3-0 down it really gave the players a lift.
They ended up delivering something from nothing, so we can take big positives from the second half.
Changes in the Players Spirit...
Do you know what, I was angry last week because the week building up to Bristol City, we had a really good week’s training. We were 1-0 down after 5 minutes, it’s really hard to gauge it, you know.
I’ve been involved in it a long time and you have a poor weeks training, but the game comes along and everybody’s fired up and it’s really hard to call it. Midweek internationals we used to call them, good through the week, Saturday afternoon comes along and they haven’t got that fire in their belly for it. So, we don’t want that, it’s no good. It’s all about the game, you have to prepare properly and train hard, but you’ve got to be up for the game from the first minute.
We weren’t last week, we gifted them a goal, the first goal was criminal defending from us. Second half we could concentrate on that.
I know it’s your job to ask me questions about the game that’s just gone, but where we are at the minute, we can only focus on the game that’s coming up. That’s what’s going to help us, the next one is going to help us, it’s there again for us. It’s only an opportunity if we take it, but it’s there, it’s there to go and grab it.
The Importance of the Fans...
We won’t get over the line if we don’t have them with us, it’s as simple as that. It’s hard for them sometimes when we don’t deliver and we play like we did in the first 45 minutes.
How can they keep continuing to back us and try to get us going? It’s hard for them. But, without them we certainly won’t get to where we need to be.
We’ve got to earn that, haven’t we? We do that through performance, end of story. There’s no easy way around it, we’ll do it through performance. We’ve seen that when we perform and we play with a little bit of bite and we’re greedy.
I’ve seen that at the Stadium of Light, it might be half empty but when we get them going they’re right there with us. It’s up to us to do that.
On Lee Cattermole...
He was into everything in that second 45, Lee. He led it really, winning tackles, getting forward, he was very vocal. It can’t just be Lee though, it has to be every player.
I know Lee is more experienced than most and he’s been here a long time, but it’s all of them, not just one or two, it’s got to be all of them, they’ve all got to fight their corner.
You’re only as good as your weakest man, that’s the chain. It’s got to be every one of them, simple as that. There’s no hiding place, for none of us, it’s just how you cope with that demand and that challenge.
On Injured Players Returning...
To be fair, in terms of numbers, it’s much better now. It’s a better position for us to be in, where the conversations we’re having are to tell players they’re not involved because of the numbers, which hasn’t happened for a while so that’s a much better place for us to be in.
Adam Matthews has been back this week, Callum McManaman has been back training this week, Lamine Kone has done a session, not quite ready though, but he’s done a session.
The numbers are better, Paddy McNair played for the Under 23’s at the weekend, came through it fine. He’s trained well this week and he’ll have another hit with the 23’s today, he comes through that and he’ll be ok. The numbers are much, much better.
On Potential Formations...
I think we looked at the back four in the second half and in that formation, we looked better. I don’t want to make excuses with formations, you can play any formation you like, if you’re ready and you’re motivated and you really want to go and do it, you do it.
3-5-2, 3-4-3, 4-4-2 blah blah blah - we can hide behind that sometimes. It’s a formation that we’ve had some great results with and a formation we haven’t had such good results with.
Funny thing is, I think with formations, if we play a conventional 4-4-2 or 4-4-3 and we’re not getting results, I’ve never asked the question; “Would you think about going with a 3-4-3?” I’ve never asked that question. It’s because 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, call it what you like, is a little bit left-field.
But, personnel, mentality, that’s what it’s about. Tactically, yeah, you can get it and get a foot in the game. You’ve still got to be right individually, motivationally, you’ve got to have all that whatever formation we play. I think in the second half against Bristol, we changed formation but it was more a change of mentality that got us the point.
On Aiden McGeady...
Gifted boys are generally like that. Players who can score a goal and win a game but sometimes they can be frustrating, that’s for sure.
Last week Aidy came on with Kaz, who’s getting stronger and fitter. We had Aidy on one side, Asoro the other side and we caused a lot of problems. Very direct in their approach and we were opening doors and creating chances, but that was last week.
So, let’s see who we go with tomorrow, I could have changed anybody at half-time and nobody could have had an argument.
So, the players who done well last week in the second half, we’ve got a game tomorrow. Let’s see how we fair in this one because last week’s gone. Can we produce tomorrow, at home? We know what the circumstances will be, can we produce something?
All of the players, not one or two again, it’s all of them, defensively, offensively. Can we produce something and not turn it into a “Here we go again”? It’s up to us, simple as that, it’s up to us.
Carrying On From Last Week’s Performance...
I wanted something different at half-time, I can promise you that. That’s the beauty of the Championship, there is always another game around the corner. I’ve been here before on the back of a good performance and a result and we don’t produce. There’s a psychological barrier that we need to break down there and we’re running out of them.
Whatever last week was, it was. This week, a different formation maybe, yeah, I’m not giving away anything there. Different personnel maybe, yeah, but let’s see what the mentality is.
Listen - it would be great if we came in at half-time tomorrow 3-0 up, it rarely happens but it would be a nice feeling to have. We come away after 90 minutes and it was a really nice ride, we enjoyed it and it was fantastic. But, the odds are that there will be scary moments, it’s going to edgy and we’re up against a good footballing team having a good season. Totally different positions, the circumstances are different. Odds are it will be edgy, it will be tight, gritty, how do we come through that?
Have we got it to overcome that challenge in tomorrow’s game? It’s as simple as that and we will see.
On the Mentality of the Team...
There’s so much that’s happened here, so much to talk about it and I get it, I do. But, I’m trying my best to get away from that without making excuses that we haven’t got the results that we’ve wanted to get. The only way out of it for us is it concentrate on that next one, simple as that. Whether we play good, bad or indifferent. We end up getting dragged into a load of negativity, it’s there and I understand why. But, all we can do is concentrate on what can affect the club and that’s the football on the pitch.
Again, individually, there’s accountability and responsibility. It’s not about people growling at you all the time and pushing you, you have to push yourself. You don’t want players like wheelbarrows that are only useful when you push them, that’s no good. The first bump in the road and they fall over anyway. So, it has to come from yourself, you have to ask yourself the question. If you can’t do that, dead in the water. But we can do it and why am I saying that? We’ve showed glimpses of it, it’s just repeating it and psychologically we’ve got to overcome that.
A lot of points and games still, we’re three points away from being out of trouble. Every game goes past and I’m still saying we’re three points away, of course that window is getting smaller and smaller. But, I 100% believe we’ll get away from where we are, we can do it, I know we can do it. We’ve got to really need and want to do it and we’ll do it with a bit of unity. But again, let’s see tomorrow, the game is coming tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it, the game, there’s so much on it, a lot of pressure on it, I understand. Nevertheless, I think with these games, when you get it right it’s a big springboard for you. There’s an opportunity there for us, we’ve just got to go and take it, hook or by crook we’ve got to go and take it.