BIG INTERVIEW: Christophe Berra on his contract, goal target and Ipswich Town ‘not getting enough credit’

Christophe Berra celebrates his second equaliser at Birmingham. PHOTO: PAGEPIX LTD

Christophe Berra celebrates his second equaliser at Birmingham. PHOTO: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town centre-back Christophe Berra was named the club’s Player of the Year in his debut season. STUART WATSON spoke to him about his contract, goal target and the Blues’ slow start to the seaosn ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Derby County.

Q: Five days on, how do you look back on last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Norwich City?

A: To lose a game to such a poor goal was disappointing. I don’t think there was much in the game up until that point, but that little mistake changed the whole aspect of the game. They had a few chances on the counter-attack, maybe because we were a bit more open, but if it had been nil-nil at half-time I don’t think there would have been much in it. At the moment small little mistakes in games have been costing us. I don’t think any team has cut us open though, it’s just little individual errors.

Norwich have got a good squad, they’ve just come down from the Premier League and their budget is massive compared to ours. There wasn’t that much in the game though. Without that goal it might have ended nil-nil, but I guess the better teams take their chances.

Q: These sloppy conceded goals of late have been somewhat out of character haven’t they?

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A: It’s not like us, but it happens. I’ll make mistakes as well, everyone makes them throughout the season. They just seem to all be coming at once. We’re getting punished at the minute when sometimes you get away with it. Someone said we are one point better off than at this stage of last season, so we’ll take that as one positive.

Mistakes happens to the top teams in the world. We move on. That’s football for you. There’s another 43 games to go. We’ll get our luck throughout the season as well.

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Q: Does it hurt more as a defender when poor goals get conceded?

Defenders pride themselves on keeping as many clean sheets as possible, but you defend from the front and throughout the whole team. We’ve got good characters in the squad and good players. If you look at the consistency we had last season then we’ve got a good chance.”

Q: On a lighter note,your two goals at Birmingham took you to seven for the club. You didn’t score in four-and-a-half years for Wolves. Where’s this come from?!

A: No I didn’t score for Wolves, you’re right! It was my Ipswich debut against Birmingham, I scored a goal and, I don’t know, maybe you just go up there (for corners) with a bit more confidence. You get one, start being in the right place at the right time and it just keeps going for you. Hopefully I can add a few more throughout the season.”

Q: Are you a bit of a frustrated striker in training then?

A: Gerks (keeper Dean Gerken) has a go at me sometimes because I start wandering up front in training matches! As a defender I’m used to heading the ball and kicking it, but you don’t always have to train as a defender. Sometimes it’s enjoyable to go up front and score a few goals. That’s why you play the game really.

Q: Come on then, what’s your goal target this season? We hear the players have all declared their targets and the three who miss out by the most have to buy dinner at the end of the season...

A: We all set targets. But I’ll keep mine to myself for now. If I hit that target I’ll let you know!

Q: Derby away on Saturday. That was a funny old game last season wasn’t it? 4-1 up at half-time only to draw 4-4

A: First half we played really well, got off to a great start, they got one back just after half-time and after that it was backs to the wall. The home game against them was a good memory for myself (scoring the last-gasp winner in a come-from-behind 2-1 win), a good atmosphere on a Tuesday night.

We’re hoping for more of the same on Saturday, but, let’s be honest, we know it’s going to be a tough game and that we’ll have to play to our maximum to get something out of it.

Q: How highly do you rate Derby? They lost in the Play-Off Final last season and are a lot of people’s tips this season.

A: They’re a good attacking team, they play good football and seem to score a lot of goals. They should have gone up last year, they dominated the Play-Off Final (against QPR) and lost to a counter-attack. They’re probably hurting from that and will be out to hgo up automatic this time around.

Let’s be honest though, they’re not going to look forward to playing us. They know what they’ll be in for. We just have to try and defend well and take our chances.

Q: What do you think opponents expect when preparing to face Ipswich Town?

A: At Portman Road especially they’ll be expecting a high-tempo game, they’ll know they’ll need to work hard to get something out of the game and that they’ll have to defend their box.

We’re dangerous. I don’t think we get enough credit sometimes for playing football. If you look at the stats against Norwich we probably had more passes than them. Stats don’t always mean everything though. We’ve had games where the opposition have had a lot more possession than us and we’ve won 2-0.

Q: You’re now in the final year of your contract. What’s the latest on that?

A: As a footballer you like to have a bit of security and I’m no different. We’ll just see what the coming months bring.

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