‘If something is starting to knit back together then that will be a success for me’ – read full transcript of Bryan Klug interview
Bryan Klug today held his first press conference since being appointed Ipswich Town caretaker manager. Here you can read the full transcript.
Q: How does it feel to be Ipswich Town caretaker manager? You must be very proud?
A: Yes, in some ways. It’s obviously nice to be considered for something like this, but there have obviously been circumstances leading up to it and when you care about the club, like we all do, you don’t want those things to happen.
It’s quite unusual circumstances. I’ve spoken to the players today and said ‘usually these things happen when results have been really, really bad and it needed a change – but it’s not really that sort of situation’.
Everybody here in the training ground is sad to see Mick go, really.
Q: When did you hear from (owner) Marcus Evans?
A: It was early on in the week. He rang and obviously it was a phone call I didn’t want to take. I’ve no agenda here at all, but if I’m asked to do anything for the football club I will do it.
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I’m very lucky to have been at this football club for a long time and if I’m asked to do anything I’ll give it a go to the best of my abilities.
It’s not something I have sought or even thought about, but when the question was asked I was obviously willing to give it a go as best as I can.
Q: So it’s clearly not something you want beyond these four games?
A: I think the owner’s words were ‘there’s no-one else so you’ll have to do it!’ I took that as a compliment!
There’s no agenda whatsoever at all. I think, obviously, Marcus is going through a process and that was obviously part of the conversation for me to say I will cover it for as long as he needs – that’s looking like it will be until the end of the season.
Hopefully we can all help him to get the right management team in here that is the right fit for the club.
For me, as I said to the players this morning, this is not what I do. I haven’t got the qualities, and I don’t want some of the qualities, that I think you need to cope with this job.
Q: A word on Mick – you obviously got to know him well over the last five years or so.
A: I actually came back from Tottenham a few months before Mick came in. I can remember the first meeting with him talking about the young players.
Six years ago we didn’t have a lot I thought would be able to help him, but over the years I have toiled away with the rest of my staff trying to improve that situation – that’s ongoing obviously – and he’s been absolutely brilliant.
I think the record of actually giving players an opportunity is second to none. We’re right up there in the Championship in terms of minutes for under-23 players.
That’s sometimes through circumstances. Obviously, from my point of view, I only want them to go in when they are good enough and they are going to stay in there and will improve the team.
He’s helped us all develop those players and been very supportive of the programme we are putting together to make sure we get very good young players.
Q: You’ve picked Chris Hogg and Gerard Nash to work alongside you in the role. What have you seen in those two young coaches?
A: In the last five or six years, certainly the last 18 months, a big part of my job has been developing coaches as well as players.
It would be a real dream for me for us to not only produce young players, but also young coaches who understand what this club is about, how we go about things and can guide it in the future.
Those two lads have been here a few years. They are ex-players, and we have a few of them working in the academy, so they understand the club. They are modern, they are not like an old fossil like me!
It’s a great opportunity for them to learn in the coming weeks. I tell everybody that it’s always about learning and trying to make yourself better. These lads buy into that.
We’ll all make mistakes. But it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn something from it.
It’s a great opportunity for them. We’ve also got the skipper (Luke Chambers) who wants to be a manager. He’s going to help me out and deal with the senior players.
It’s a situation that none of us want, but we now have to use this situation to get something out of this last month.
Q: There were other options to assist you – well-known former players like Alan Lee, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble…
A: There are few not speaking to me at the minute! They’ve all got knowledge so I’ve said to them ‘don’t be grumbling about it, come and talk to me’.
We have got loads of people who care about the football club and want to get involved.
Q: Geraint Williams is also back at the club…
A: He’s got great experience, but he’s only really working two days a week with the younger players. He was a big part of Wales’ success story (at Euro 2016). He’s a really, really good coach and I’m trusting him to look after my job at the moment.
At various times when I come under more stress he’ll be there as a crutch for me I’m sure.
Q: So you asked Luke Chambers for some assistance?
A: Yes and he certainly didn’t have to be asked twice! He’s got a lot to offer. He’ll learn from this situation too. And he’ll certainly be able to help me.
Over the last year or so I’ve probably, as a supporter, only seen four or five games a season because I’m out watching the boys on loan at the likes of Tilbury, Bromley and Aldershot.
I need as much help with putting a good programme together as possible. He (Chambers) has got a lot to offer, as has Skusey and the all the senior lads.
They are all, at the moment, buying into it - though that might not be the case when they see the team I pick for Saturday!
Q: You talk to supporters, you’re a supporter yourself – you must have noticed how a gulf has opened up between fans and club? That needs to close doesn’t it?
A: That’s really sad and really concerning. I don’t want to go into all the detail of that, it’s in the past, and hopefully we can put all that behind us and can all enjoy what is a great football club.
I’ve lived in the town for 40 years now since I came down in 1977, so I know what the club means to everybody and it breaks your heart to hear people talk a certain way.
Even at academy level that’s started to affect our recruitment – and that’s never happened before.
But that’s the past and I just hope that people can come down and enjoy themselves again. Because that’s what it’s supposed to be about isn’t it? It’s supposed to be enjoyed.
If we lose all four games you guys (the media) will be all over me, I know that! But if nothing else, if at the end of this month I can say something is starting to knit back together then that will be a success for me.
Q: How important are results over these four games? Or is it as much about performances, experimentation, a few kids getting games?
A: I share one trait with Mick – I like winning games of football. I do think there is a bigger picture here though.
Obviously it’s a tough league and every game is going to be tough. I did have a giggle with Mick when I saw the games he’d left us to get through. I look at the managers I’ve got to face and I’m sure they are quaking in their boots coming up against me!
Performances are important – but I’m coming from a youth development background, so I’m allowed to say that! But I know the game is about winning.
These are fantastic games coming up and I want the lads to go in and express themselves and play and enjoy it.
I know what the game is about though. I’ve been around a long time.
Q: Fans will be expecting a lot of kids to get games over the next four given your academy background. Will that be the case?
A: I think there has to be a balance for a variety of reasons.
I very much think that the development of these players is about finding the right time for them to step up.
Listen, I want to get as many minutes for as many young players as we possibly can.
But you’ve got to be fair and make sure you are putting out a team that is very competitive.
Of course I’m going to put them in whenever I can, but at the same time the more senior and established players, if they are performing the right way… I’ll take it game-by-game on what people show me.
If it’s possible we’ll get them on the pitch – of course I will.
Q: You’ve got your own style and the way you want your teams to play. Is it unrealistic to be able to see evidence of that in the first team over the final four games?
A: I think that will be very difficult. Especially when players have been used to something as long as they have. It is very unusual when a manager does five-and-a-half years.
To throw something completely different at them…
And there is so much that you want to keep because we want to win and stay competitive.
I think to change too much will spook players. There will be some differences, but there’s not going to be a revolution. That would be ridiculous to expect. It will take a longer than one day of training to achieve that.
Q: How will you feel on Saturday morning - excited, nervous, a bit of both?
A: Nervous probably. Of course I’ll be excited, but this is not really what I am about. There are things in football that I am better suited to.
When came down as a 17-year-old and had I looked Mr Robson in the eye and told him I’d end up doing this then he would had laughed at me!
I’m very fortunate to be in this position and I am very aware of that. It’s a big responsibility isn’t it?
Q: Bryan, we know your philosophy to the game of football – you’ve used words like freedom and enjoyment. But you’ve rightly said that maybe it’s easier to do that in a youth development environment away from the pressure-cooker of Championship football. Can those two things be knitted or does there need to be an element of pragmatism?
A: It’s very difficult to get the balance right. The focus on the world of professional players is to always be competitive. My world is focused on development and learning and it’s not make or break on results.
I think you have to be pragmatic in the Championship because it’s a very, very tough league. It’s moved on from 10 years ago when Jim (Magilton) and I were doing it. It’s such a different game. Analysis is leading a lot of it. The organisation (of teams) is a lot more pragmatic.
Of course you can be very expansive if you’ve got the best players, but if you are not organised you are going to get over-run.
There are extremes at both ends of the scale.
Q: You have great sympathy for Mick and clearly everyone inside the club is sad with how it’s ended, but can you also put on a supporters’ hat and see the frustrations from their point of view too?
A: I’m really not going to make any comment about that. I just want everybody thinking about being positive really.
There are certain things that have happened. It’s wrong that the manager of Ipswich Town has to be escorted from a ground (Brentford), that’s what has prompted me having to be here today and that should never, ever happen.
That’s not the club I know. That’s not the people I know. That’s all I really want to say about that.
What I really want to say is ‘can we be positive now?’ Can we please be positive? I can’t stress that enough.
When I was speaking to the lads I said ‘Portman Road has become a very difficult place to win so well done for getting a victory on Tuesday’.
I don’t really want to dwell on that though.
Q: You said that since you returned to the club in 2012 you’ve been trying to get the academy production line moving again. It seems to be. We’ve seen some encouraging debuts recently and I know there is excitement surrounding some of the lads further down the age groups. How bright is the future of this football club in that respect?
A: It’s a work in progress. The manager was supportive of what we are doing, as is the owner. We have plans in place. I’m very pleased at the amount of players that are coming through now.
We have a real plan of how to get them to where they need to be. This year has been a little bit disrupted because some of them have actually had to be involved with the first team probably before they should have been.
The academy staff, led by Lee O’Neill, who is absolutely first class, are making progress. We provide value for money. We have to justify all the spending to Marcus and I do think we have a value for money academy.
Q: The academy is very much at the centre of Marcus’ plan for the club moving forwards. Producing from within is the best chance this football club has got to progress amidst an uneven financial playing field isn’t it?
A: I think it is. Unless our circumstances change then we need to work really hard. That’s what we are doing.
There has been a lot of effort put in and we’ll continue to do that.
You’re right – that’s a big part of Marcus’ plan. It’s the best way to get the football club back on line.
It’s going to require a lot of patience. The whole world thinks everything has to be done now. What we are fighting for is to give boys as much time as possible where they can get into an environment and be tested.
It is a question of patience. You have to find the right time and the right circumstances for young players.
I think Mick would have been dipping them in and out at this stage of the season.
I spoke to Steve Wigley at Fulham and he said he went and knocked on (Slavisa) Jokanovic’s door and said ‘you’ve got to play this lad (Ryan) Sessegnon now’. I would love to be doing that, but they are not quite there.
I’m saying ‘let’s give them a chance because in two years time he might make a difference’. We have lots of players in that bracket that need 50 games of men’s football before they are judged.
Q: There are a lot of people now, following Mick’s announcement, saying ‘what do Ipswich fans expect?’ and painting a doomsday scenario. You’ve talked about positivity. It would be nice to paint a positive picture for this football club moving forwards and to say things can be bright. I think fans are ready to buy into a long-term project.
A: I think the club needs to communicate that plan better. That’s obviously something that Marcus is going to do. I know he is going through a real process to find the right kind of manager for how we want the club to develop.
But that’s not for me to really talk about.
I can tell you that he is doing things in a way that makes real good sense in terms of taking the club forwards.
There are different types of managers Marcus could look at. That’s his choice and he’s putting a lot of thought into it. I’m sure he’ll let people know that.