On Saturday’s performance, having had time to reflect...
... not that much different to how I reacted post match.
We didn’t play well on Saturday.
I think... I’ve always been at pains to point out that there can be quite extremes, the reactions sometimes if we don’t win games, and I think I’ve been fairly consistent in my defence of my team if I feel as if they have performed well.
So even taking particularly the last three games in isolation, the Charlton and Luton games, there were periods in both those games where we played well and we went toe to toe with good teams in the league - and then I would offer up a defence of us not winning the game.
However, Saturday we didn’t play well, and I think as I said post-match I don’t think that we deserved an awful lot more than that from the game.
The disappointment will come when we don’t win a game naturally because (of) the expectations upon us as a club, but Saturday was probably the sorest one to take of recent times because (of) the performance level.
On our current form - “does it feel sticky at the minute?”
I think we have to be careful that we don’t get drawn in to... overreaction would be the wrong word, but I think there is a tendency - and I’ve learned that quite quickly here - that the range of emotional reaction can change quite dramatically on a weekly basis.
But, I’ve always tried to be realistic in my comment.
I think I did that post-match Saturday, I’ve done that already today.
I’m always seeking perfection here, and so, at the moment no we’re not at that, so my frustration will always remain... pretty much I’ve got consistent frustration cos it’s pretty difficult to ever get to perfection but Saturday was the one that I’ve said felt the sorest because it was the furthest away from a performance that I think should reflect what we have within the squad, and reflect how I try and prepare the team.
So that’s the one that has caused us most concern today but, equally, although the form has been sticky in terms of picking up victories, that was the one in isolation that was definitely the poorest performance.
Are games against U21s sides difficult to prepare for?
Yeah... difficult? They’re different.
Sometimes there’s less certainty over the lineup you’ll face and probably particularly this week for us given they have another fixture and the circumstances around that fixture, but what you do tend to find is that there’s a little bit more consistency in how these teams play in terms of their system because usually they’re being taught in a way that means they’ll play the same system week in, week out if that makes sense.
So, a lot of the U21 teams there will be fairly regular in the way they play, maybe not the personnel, so whereas in League One there’s probably personnel (that) remains fairly consistent, but the way those teams can play we’ve seen already is varied.
So, it’s a little bit different.
Nowadays there’s such a wealth of footage available and information available that it’s not that much different from a league game as well.
On Man City’s ‘problem’ with having two games this week...
I think I said last week that, from my point of view, because 1. I had important league games and 2. because of the fixtures calendar I always knew that once we’d managed to beat Newcastle in the previous round that we would have a midweek game this week - the only thing that I didn’t know (was) ‘would it be Tuesday or Wednesday?’ - so I was always just working on that premise.
And I know that there was a lot of debate over the fixture, but I wasn’t really aware of that too much to be honest because my thought was always that it was on this midweek, because that’s when it was scheduled for.
Likewise, if it was an FA Cup game or whatever it would have been always (been) pencilled in for a certain date.
But yeah, as you’ve said, it goes with the territory obviously being involved with this competition as well for teams that have their under-age group in it.
Now we’re in the latter stages, does our attitude change?
Well the good thing is (that) I think we’ve taken the competition seriously from the start.
I think we have managed to strike a balance between where the fixture has fallen and the other games we’ve had around it, getting players game-time and treating it properly as well.
But you’re right, my message has been consistent with the players (on) how we view the competition, but I think from their perspective knowing that they’re now close to reaching the final and us playing at Wembley hopefully should raise the excitement levels as well.
And also we don’t want to have worked as hard as we have done - I think it’s five games now that we’ve played in the competition - so, it’s quite a lot of games that you have to play to get to the final, so we’re now at way past the half-way point of winning those games so naturally we want to make sure that we win the next two and get to the final.
Is this as tough as it will get?
I don’t know... we could have went to Portsmouth away who are leading our division, we could have had other tough away ties... and even without that, Bury are still in the competition, whose recent form has been really good.
The U21 teams are obviously, like I said in the previous round, a difficult challenge for first teams just because of everything that goes around it, but they obviously as a club are able to attract the best of the best within that age group so naturally we’re gonna face a squad that will be full of talented young players, but I feel as if I’ve got talent within my squad but obviously guys that have proven that they can handle playing professional football week in, week out and sustain a career in the game.
So, different challenge for us again (to) anything we’ve faced so far but another one that if, you know, if we prepare in the same way and it gives us an opportunity to get back to winning matches as well.
Do we need a break after this game?
I said post-match on Saturday that I wouldn’t say that we need it in terms of being fatigued or anything like that, because every other team in our division faces a similar congestion of fixtures.
But when you have the opportunity to take a breather - because you spend a lot of time with each other, and we have done particularly with how often we travel as well - it just gives everybody, players and staff, a little bit of time to make sure that when they come back in in the week leading up to the Wimbledon game that we should have a freshness and be re-energised in that way, and recognise that we’re going to go into at that time a really, really important, busy period, but important period for us.
Transfers - what would be best-case scenario for you come next Thursday night?
I’ve been very clear in that we need another one in an attacking area, so ideally a striker, and then beyond that I’d still like to possibly add one, maybe two, that would give us more depth in other areas of the pitch as well.
And, naturally, not lose anybody because the squad - although they’ve had some criticism of late - have still managed to put themselves in a relatively good position.
Not relatively - it is a good position going into the second half of the season, going into these last few months of the season, and obviously if you ever lose important players it gives that conundrum with obviously (having to) find replacements as well.
On Will Grigg being injured - does that alter his thoughts on signing him?
Well it would depend, I think, on the player’s fitness and how serious that injury is.
Obviously I can’t comment on that because I don’t know or wasn’t at the game, not part of that, he’s not my player so... but I’ve always been reluctant to comment on individual players and I know obviously Paul’s done that at the weekend so it’s made it obvious that we have made a bid for him and he’s a player that we would like to bring to the club.
We have, what, nine or ten days left in which to do that so it’s obviously something we would like to try and make happen.