Results breed confidence and the lads are buzzing at the minute. It’s a local derby on Saturday, so form goes out of the window – bit like the Championship really – Barnsley got a good performance against Birmingham and did poorly against Peterborough.
I’m delighted how the lads have taken everything on board so far. You’ve always got a chance if you’re well organized in this league.
In fact, if Diouf had scored [his chances] against Bolton and Blackburn we’d be top of the league!
Injuries & Loans
We’ve got to look to getting points on the board here, before having a break and getting a few faces back like Norris and Green.
Paul Green’s doing some running now, but he’s not played any games yet. Norris is looking closer to returning, and I was considering bringing him on last match, but I don’t want to rush him back.
I’m also still looking at getting another face in, so the bench should look a bit better in the future.
I think we need to be able to change games, so I’m having a look at the moment. [The potential loan signing]‘s not going to excite the fans, but it’s a player I’ve known and I think can do a job.
I think our lack of knowledge and nous regarding defending set pieces has cost us. I talked to Tom Lees earlier in the season, and gave some marking to Rudy, so [after Bolton] who do I give them to now? Pearce can’t take everybody! It’s disappointing really… we talked this morning about them.
We haven’t had a clean sheet since Wolves, but Lees and Pearce have played very well in open play.
I don’t think we’ll get anywhere near the playoffs if we concede 16 goals every 8 games.
We’ve had a tough run of fixtures, and I think the next 10 games will be vital. The lads are doing as well as I expected them to do. I think they’re enjoying it too, and you forget how many are new. Think of the other night – 4 out of the back 5 are new, probably 8 overall.
My teams play better when there’s a bit extra in games I think, like in derbies. I think the lads will enjoy Barnsley; we’re used to that [derby] atmosphere, because we’ve always got 3,000-4,000 travelling with us, so I think we’ll do well.
I’d be very disappointed if we got beat 5-2 [on Saturday]. I think the whole club’s changed in the last six months, we’ve strengthened mentally now. They’ve got some threat, but we have. We’ve got players not just busting a gut to start the game, but to get on the scoresheet or keep in the team. It’s good, especially when you’ve got lads like Norris coming back.
Faces, New and Old
Tongey has helped me because he knows how I play, he’s stablised the team, taken a tough role, helped Brown come into the team, helped with Byram or White on the right side, and allowed us to get Dioufy into a free role which is his best position, because as we saw against Blackburn he can’t mark down the wing very well.
There’s one or two lads who I haven’t had a great look at, but who I will do eventually. We brought Sanchez [Payne] in the other week. I’d like to bring a few to the squad to whet their appetite. I think we surprised one or two of our academy lads in pre-season when we called Sam [Byram] up. I’m not sure everybody felt he was ready, but it worked out well.
Sam reminds me a little bit of Nathaniel Clyne [the 21 year old Southampton full-back], in that he was just never fazed by anything. In fact I remember having one or two lads earlier in my career who went on to better things, and thinking they’d panic in the playoffs, and they were the ones who were relaxed and enjoying it. So I don’t worry too much about youngsters, I think lads bring a fresh atmosphere to a changing room as well if I’m honest.
And Browny’s been good for that as well. He and Pughy have been training after sessions end to make sure they’re ready when they get their chances. It’s a good example for the kids, and I don’t think Diouf has been as fit as this in years.
And you do play better when you’re enjoying it.