BIG INTERVIEW: Anthony Wordsworth admits he was ‘deeply hurt’ to be dropped and insists he is determined to prove manager Mick McCarthy wrong
- Credit: Archant
Since signing from Essex neighbours Colchester United, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for Ipswich Town midfielder Anbthony Wordsworth. STUART WATSON spoke to the rejuvenated 25-year-old ahead of tonight’s game at Huddersfield.
Having been dropped from the squad completely for the draw against Nottingham Forest, were you surprised to go back into the starting line-up for Saturday’s game at Blackburn?
“I wasn’t really surprised because the gaffer had said I was having a rest. I had to believe in what he said. I always thought there would be an opportunity for me to go back in. It might have been different if the boys had won against Nottingham Forest though.
How do you feel you’ve done since coming back into the side recently?
“I feel I’ve done well. The gaffer’s always been on to me about working hard and doing the other side of the game and I think I’ve did the most running in our whole team for both of those first two games (Brighton and Derby) I played.
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“I was one of the leading players in terms of headers and tackles too. I think I made it difficult for him (McCarthy) and I would have been really disappointed not to have been put back in against Blackburn.”
Is that what’s changed, you’ve been working harder?
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“I always believe I’ve been doing it. I think the gaffer maybe didn’t know what type of player I was. I always believe in myself; I know what I’m about, I know I work hard, I know I can score goals. I just have to try and prove him wrong.
“I think I need maybe 10 to 15 games to show everyone what I can really do. I think I’m just doing enough at the moment and I’d like to do more.
“Hopefully in those two games (against Brighton and Derby) I showed the fans a little bit of what I’m about. I’d like more game time to show more. I’ll keep fighting to prove the manager wrong.”
How hard was it not being in the first-team picture for much of the season?
“It was difficult because I know what I can do, I thought I should have been in the team and, for whatever reason, I wasn’t. Yeah, it was hard.
“As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens. I still feel like I’m trying to boot down that door though and prove the manager wrong.”
What’s your relationship with the manager been like?
“Off the pitch he’s been good to me. He’s a great manager, but it’s hard to say good things about someone when they’re not picking you.
“He is a good man and he’s been loyal to players. I couldn’t really complain about (Cole) Skuse going back in after injury (against Forest) because he’s right, if that had been me then I would have been angry if I hadn’t been put back in.
“Also he’s said that if you come in and do well then you keep your place. I did well against Brighton and Derby and ended up sitting in the stands for the Forest game. That was hard, it almost makes you lose faith in football really.
“What can you do though? You can either moan about it or get on with things and do your best to try and get back in the team.”
It sounds like you were upset by the manager’s decision to rest you for that Forest game then?
“I was upset but the manager had his reasons for what he did. I still wanted my team-mates to win, I was probably our best fan from the stands, but yeah I was deeply hurt and disappointed because the manager always says that if you come in and do well then you keep your place and that wasn’t the case. I was deeply upset.
“I just had to deal with it because if I disagreed with him it wouldn’t have made any difference. I just tried my best in training again, got my place back against Blackburn and hopefully have done enough to keep my place this time.”
Did you speak to him after that match to tell him how you felt?
“We had a discussion. I had to agree with because he’s the manager. I can say my piece but it’s not going to change anything. I’ve been there before in the past where I’ve disagreed with managers and it doesn’t really get you anywhere. The best thing you can do is get your head down, work hard and try and get another opportunity.”
Did you ever think you might have to leave the club, short or long-term, to get games?
“Not really. I’ve obviously got another year, possibly two, on my contract. The option of an extra year is in my favour if I want to take it up.
“Maybe going on loan was an option. A few clubs came in for me but the manager decided that it wasn’t the right time for me to go so I had to stick around.”
Have you been unfairly type-cast as this creative midfielder who maybe doesn’t work hard enough off the ball?
“I think I’ve got this unique running style where it maybe looks like I’m not working hard, but – as I say – if you look at the stats I’ve done more running than anyone else in the team in the games I’ve played in.”
I vividly remember a pre-season game at Barnet when the manager was shouting at you to close down players throughout...
“That’s the type of manager he is, he likes players who work hard and get in peoples’ faces. I know I’ve got that unique running style where I look lazy, but I’ve covered more distance than anyone else in the games that I’ve played. I feel like I’ve worked hard and done all of the things he’s asked of me.”
You’re obviously quite proud of those running stats!
“They come out Monday morning after the games and I think I was the first one there to check on them! When I saw that what I believed in was right I was very happy.”
Everything had started so well for you following that move from Colchester too hadn’t it?
“I remember when I first came back from that injury (fractured vertebrae) the manager put me straight back in and I scored against Hull. I thought I’d done well, but after that I didn’t really get a look-in which I found difficult.
“I’ve worked hard, not moaned, tried to get my head down and tried to prove him wrong. I say ‘try to prove him wrong’, I think he does think I’m a good player, but he’s obviously been loyal to the players who have been there from the start for him. I’ve obviously got to try and kick down his door.”
Have you always believed that you were good enough for the Championship?
“I know I can play at this level, I just needed someone to give me the opportunity. That hasn’t happened so far, but hopefully I’ve shown the manager that I can play at this level and he’ll put me in from here on.
This is almost like a new start for you isn’t it?
“It feels like that to be honest. The last 13 months have been a nightmare really with injuries and not being involved. It has been a bad time. Hopefully things can change.”
Finally, you played in central midfield against Brighton and Derby and then out on the right at Blackburn. Where’s you best position?
“I’m a central midfielder – I’d like to play there. The position where Jonny Williams played (just off the striker), that’s where I played at my previous club (Colchester) and I scored a lot of goals from that position. It’s going to be difficult to move him out of there at the moment though because he’s been on fire. At this moment in time I’m just grateful to be in the team.”