Christophe Berra on hurt pride, being too fancy and expecting to be a ‘marked man’ against Birmingham tonight
Ipswich Town host Birmingham City in a televised Championship clash at Portman Road tonight (7.45pm ko). STUART WATSON spoke to centre-back Christophe Berra after a rollercoaster few days.
How big was Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Leeds following last Friday’s 5-1 loss at Reading?
“Massive. I don’t think we’ve won there since I’ve been here, it’s a difficult place to go, but we were solid and put on a great performance. It was back to our normal stuff.
“Against Reading we weren’t ourselves, we played differently. We weren’t up and at them and squeezing them and making a fight of it.
“We were maybe a wee bit more nicer on the eye with the ball, too nice, and that’s not us.
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“They were ruthless, they had six shots and scored five, and that happens in football. We get on with it, we move on and we bounced back quickly on Tuesday night.”
What were the emotions after the Reading game?
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“Obviously you’re hurt and your pride takes a hit getting beat 5-1, especially as a defender. You just have to take it on the chin. In this job you’ve got to be hard-nosed and get on with it.”
The manager kept faith with the back five. Knowing that loyalty is there must help?
“It’s difficult to get a team performance if you keep chopping and changing. The gaffer is not one for that.
“We’ve not got a big enough squad to do that either.
“He always keep the faith with players. If performances drop for two or three games then I’m sure you’d get the call to his office, but the whole team didn’t hit the standards we’d set in previous games.
“It’s good to get a kick up the backside now and again. Tuesday night we went back to what we’re good at.”
For all the talk about the added quality in attack, it must have been pleasing to get back to basics and keep a clean sheet?
“When you have added a bit more flair sometimes it can be a bit lop-sided but that’s football for you. We go out and we just want to win games and obviously to keep a clean sheet was an added bonus.
“We limited Leeds to very few chances, maybe one shot on target in the whole game, so it was back to our normal selves.
“I think the team from back to front played as people expect us to play and against Reading we tried to play differently and tried to be a bit more fancy on the ball. We probably passed the ball more than we had all season. I had 30 or 40 passes (against Reading) and on Tuesday night I had about 15 or something and we kept a clean sheet.
“We know what sort of team we are, we know what we’d good at, and we got back to that on Tuesday night.”
Is it a case of picking your moments – in terms of when to go gung-ho and when to be solid – now?
“We just need to do what we’re good at and go from there. If it’s not working in games I’m sure the manager might try to change it.”
Fifth at present, you could go second tonight. Is the table starting to take shape?
“It’s a cliché, but the table doesn’t matter until April/May. I think Forest went on a long unbeaten run at the start of last season and they didn’t even make the play-offs. There’s no point playing well now and then dropping loads after Christmas. It’s about being consistent.
“This has been our best start to the season since I’ve been here though. Thirteen points from seven games. If you go by two points a game over a season that is usually good enough for promotion.”
How’s the hamstring? The initial prognosis was a month, but you recovered very quickly to make the Reading game.
“It was supposed to be a month but I managed to come back quicker than normal. All credit to the physios.
“It’s felt fine in the last two games, but you never know with muscle injuries. I’ve just got to make sure I keep doing my rehab and have a bit of luck.”
Tommy Smith’s scored two goals already this season, you must be itching to get off the mark!
“Yes, because we always have that little goal rivalry! I’ve not really had many chances to be honest but as long as the team is winning that’s all that matters. It’s always good to score goals yourself but the main priority is the team and winning games.
“I was reading the other day that I’ve scored three goals in four games against Birmingham so hopefully I can continue that but I’m sure I will be a marked man this time when I go up for set pieces.”
Your thoughts on Birmingham?
“We know it is going to be a tough game. Last season it was 2-2 and 4-2, both end-to-end games, and they are a real threat. The manager’s got them well drilled and Donaldson up front is a real handful so we know we’ve got a hard night ahead and we need to be at 110 per cent.”