Big interview: Jay Tabb on giant-killing at Old Trafford, contentment at being a fringe player and being taller (but not as good) as Ryan Fraser

Ipswich Town midfielder Jay Tabb

Ipswich Town midfielder Jay Tabb - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Ipswich Town face Manchester United, at Old Trafford, in the third round of the Capital One Cup tomorrow night. STUART WATSON spoke to Jay Tabb, one of several fringe players who could get their chance to shine.

Q: Hi Jay. So, you’re the expert when it comes to winning Capital One Cup matches at Old Trafford aren’t you?

A: *laughs* “I suppose so. I was part of that Coventry team that won there in 2007. It was really good. They had a half and half team – senior pros and younger players – and it was a fantastic evening. We won 2-0 with goals from Michael Misfud.

“I wouldn’t say it was the highlight of my career, but it’s certainly a game that sticks in the memory. It was something to be proud of.”

Q: What’s was like playing there?

A “It’s weird. When you turn up and see how big it is, the Theatre of Dreams and all that… When you grow up and watch Match of the Day, Man United were the biggest team.

“We played really well. When you’re playing against a team as good as that you have to work your socks off. I think as a team we covered over 12km or something like that.

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“We had a couple of chances, took them, and restricted them. We weren’t all over them, but it wasn’t exactly a backs to the wall job either.

“You’re hoping to win, but you’re not expected to so you can play with a bit of free rein.”

Q: Not many players in this Ipswich squad will have played on such a stage. What’s your message to them?

A: “Just enjoy it really, it’s a great occasion. Thousands of kids grow up wanting to be footballers, only a handful make it and only a handful of them get to play at places like Old Trafford. Just relish it, enjoy it and just try and make sure that the first thing you do is a good thing because that settles you down.”

Q: Have friends and family been bothering you for tickets?

“There were for the Coventry one, not so much now because they’ve lost interest – I’m getting old! I’m sure Ipswich have sold their full allocation of tickets though.”

Q: Has the fear factor that Manchester United had under Sir Alex Ferguson diminished slightly?

A: “It’s different, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s gone. I wouldn’t want to play against them week-in, week-out, that’s for sure.

“Louis van Gaal is a great manager, they’ve started the season pretty well and they’ve got some great players. You’re definitely always fearful when you play against Manchester United.”

Q: The manager has said Saturday’s game against Bristol City is bigger for the club...

A: “Week-in, week-out the Championship grind is what we do. This is kind of the pleasant distraction.

“We’ve got another big game on Saturday against Bristol City. I’m not too sure what team he will pick, but whoever is selected will want to test themselves.

“But the league is the main priority. We had a really good season last year and we want to go one step further. Even though it’s a big game, the main goal is to be playing Man United next season twice.”

Q: Is there any player at Manchester United you particularly admire?

A: “All of them. The guy they’ve signed, Martial, has had a pretty good start to his United career hasn’t he? They are too many to name really. They have a squad packed full of talent.

“I’m not too sure what sort of team they are going to pick, it will probably be a bit mix and match, some experienced first team pros and maybe a couple of youngsters.

“They will probably have the majority of the ball and we’ll have to work hard.”

Q: You made more than 30 starts last season but have been restricted to just two league Cup appearances so far. Any frustration?

“Not at all. We’re doing well, I played in the two cup games, I got a goal and did okay, but we’ve got a stronger squad this year – simple.

“Ryan (Fraser) has done exceptionally well, Ainsley (Maitland-Niles) has done well, Larsen (Toure) did well the other night, Tommy Oar has come in and looked good in training. It’s one of those things.

“If the team’s winning that’s the main thing. When the team’s winning it’s a happy training ground. You want to come in to work every day and have a happy atmosphere and that’s what we’ve got at the moment.

“If you’re not involved you’ve just got to make sure you’re fit and ready. The gaffer knows that with our squad, whoever he leaves out will make sure they are ready.

“It’s not frustrating, it’s life.

“I know Ryan Fraser is better than me. I’m not going to playing ahead of him.

“We just did eleven v eleven in training today and had two really good sides. It’s a stronger squad than previous years. That’s good.”

Q: Are you able to look at things that way now you are older?

A: “That definitely comes with experience. When you’re younger you’re desperate to play all the time. I’ve been playing 14 years now, played more than 100 games, and understand what’s important.

“If you want it to be all about yourself then go and play golf or tennis. Football is a team game. If you start sulking it doesn’t achieve anything, it just makes you stressed and doesn’t do anything for team morale.

“We’ve got a great team spirit and we’re all together. If someone is not playing then it doesn’t mean they don’t talk to anyone else.

“It’s all about he bigger goal.”

Q: Would you consider going out on loan?

A: “No. I told the gaffer the other day that I don’t want to go out on loan. I enjoy training with my team-mates here and working with the gaffer and TC (Terry Connor). I have no intention of going out on loan.

“Plus, when you go out on loan you have to sing a song as part of an initiation and I’ve done enough of them now!”

Q: You mentioned Ryan Fraser earlier. He tells us that you’re exactly the same height...

A: “No way! I’m a good foot taller than him! Andy Liddell (fitness coach) gives us a bit of stick on that. Ryan’s a really good addition and fitted in really well in the changing room.”

Q: They say anything can happen in the cup. You were in that Reading team last lost 7-5 to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup weren’t you?

“I don’t want to think about that! I was so depressed after that game. We were 4-0 up, they equalised with the last kick, and we ended up losing 7-5 after extra-time.

“I’ve had some good times in Capital One Cup though. We spoke about the United game, I scored against West Ham on TV too, so hopefully Wednesday night can be another good one.

“I’ve got a 100% record at Old Trafford (played one, won one), so lump your money on us!”

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