BIG INTERVIEW: Ipswich Town midfielder Paul Anderson talks about ‘bad eggs’, the lack of a drinking culture and why the Blues’ quality shouldn’t be overlooked
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town – unbeaten in nine and sixth in the Championship table – host pre-season title favourites QPR at Portman Road tomorrow. Midfielder Paul Anderson spoke to the EADT and Ipswich Star about a lack of ‘bad eggs’ in the dressing room, Mick McCarthy’s man management and why talk of a lack of quality is ‘harsh’.
Q: Has it been frustrating not to play lately (one start in eight)?
A: “Yeah, a little bit, but we’ve put in good squad performances, we’re on a great run and we’re all in it together to get the results. We’ve been getting the results and we’re in a great position, so while it’s frustrating on a personal note I’m also happy that we’re doing very well in the league.
Q: Has the team’s good form made it difficult to go knocking on the manager’s door?
A: “Of course. The lads have been doing really well. It’s not like anyone has been doing badly and you can go and ask the manager ‘come on, give me a little chance here’. It is frustrating, but we’re all in it together. There’s a great squad feel and we’re all just happy to be in the position we are.
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Q: What has Mick McCarthy said to you?
A: “He’s spoken to me on several occasions on the training ground and just said ‘don’t get frustrated, you’ve been fantastic for me, keep doing what you’re doing’. Unfortunately some of the formations we’ve been playing haven’t suited me quite as much and he’s told me I’ve probably been a little bit unlucky not to be on the team sheet.
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Q: Could you play in a 4-3-3 formation?
A: “I’d love the opportunity to play in the top three. It would mean little less defensive duties for myself, which would be nice! Again, the lads have been doing so well and the manager is picking the team he believes is the right one. You can’t argue with that because we’re getting the results and we’re in the top six.
Q: How do you assess your first season at Ipswich so far?
A: “I think I’ve slowly got into myself. It’s always difficult when you come to a new place, bonding with the rest of the lads and learning the new style of how the manager wants to play. I’ve never played so narrow before. He’s asking me to do a different job. I feel like I’ve learnt it quite well, and I’m still learning, but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to being at my best.
“It was tough getting relegated (with Bristol City last season). No disrespect to League One, I didn’t want to play in League One. I was fortunate enough to be given a chance at this level again. I feel like I’ve done my part within the squad and I’m thankful to the manager for his belief in me.”
Q: Do the fringe players feel like they will get a fair chance to impress?
A: “I think if you’re given your chance and you take then the manager is going to be fair with you. He’s showed that if you come in and perform well then he’ll give you another opportunity. All the lads know what the gaffer is like – he’s black and white, he says it how it is and you know where you stand. Everyone will have a great opportunity to be involved over the next few games because it’s still a busy period with the (FA Cup) replay.
Q: Is it hard to be at your best after a long spell without games?
A: “It is tough. You’re expected to come in straight away and perform, which can be difficult if you’ve not played for a month or so. It’s not easy, but that’s football and you’ve just got to keep yourself fit in training, do that little bit extra and just make sure you are ready when you do get that chance.
Q: The manager has bemoaned the lack of a reserve league to keep his fringe players sharp. Do you agree?
A: “It’s strange how it’s all changed. It’s great for a young lad, but for first teamers it’s difficult because you can only have three overage lads playing in the Under-21s games. If you do need two or three games to get back up to speed you don’t have the opportunity. The rules are the rules though and you just have to go along with it.
Q: Tell us more about this team spirit that all the players keep talking about...
A: “There’s such a togetherness within the group. There’s not a single bad egg within the changing room, which is a bit of a novelty, you normally have someone who is moaning or bringing something which is not so good. The lads have been fantastic and we all support each other, no matter who is in the starting eleven.
“Obviously there are certain groups that get on better, you get that in any walk of life, but if I was to sit down at the table with any of those lads in the dressing room I could have a conversation and it wouldn’t be awkward. Everyone gets on.
“When we go out, we tend to do it as a group rather than people going off with their own mates. Luke Chambers tends to organise little social outings. There used to be a cinema group, a few of us play golf, we’ve been go-karting and paintballing.
“To be honest there isn’t a drinking group here, there normally is at clubs, but there’s not here at all – everyone is focussed on the football.
“Everyone has such good banter in and around the training ground. You can have a laugh when sometimes that’s not allowed at clubs.
“I think that’s a big factor in football. If everyone is enjoying it and getting on then you are going to perform at a much higher level than you are if there’s not a group togetherness.”
Q: Everyone seems prepared to do the hard work on the pitch that the manager demands...
A: “Yeah, everyone is prepared to work for each other. You always have the odd luxury player, but I don’t think we’ve got that here. David McGoldrick has scored a lot of our goals, but you can’t class him as a luxury player because he puts in a shift and works hard for the team.
“You look at the top teams. People talk about Barcelona and how fantastic they are going forwards, but they are probably the best team in the world at working hard off the ball. That’s why they are successful.”
Q: Is it fair to say that there might be six teams with more quality individuals, but not with better team spirit and organisation?
A: “I think that’s harsh. We have lots of individuals who have great ability. We have (Cole) Skuse, who is one of the best technical players I’ve seen at this level, (David) McGoldrick can make something happen out of nothing. We’ve got a back four that are prepared to fight for us. You don’t want your back four bringing the ball down and doing tricks.
“We’ve got a great squad and I think it would be harsh to comment on a lack of ability. I think we do have ability.
“We’ve got no reason to doubt ourselves in any way whatsoever. We believe that we are good enough.”
Q: Can Ipswich Town finish in the top six?
A: “I think the fans can appreciate we’ve come a long way from what it’s been in the last few seasons here. At the start of the season we played it down a bit and talked about consolidating, but we always said within the squad that we were aiming for the top six and we still believe we can do that.”