No excuses from Georges

GEORGES Santos refuses to allow the fact that he has had five different partners in central defence to be used an excuse for the dismal goals against tally.

GEORGES Santos refuses to allow the fact that he has had five different partners in central defence to be used an excuse for the dismal goals against tally.

The big Frenchman has started in all five of Town's league clean sheets this season, partnered for three of those by Richard Naylor, while John McGreal stood alongside him for the other two.

The free signing from Grimsby Town has also played alongside Drissa Diallo and Fabian Wilnis and today he will have Matt Elliott as his partner. The on-loan Leicester City defender has already had three different central defence companions in his four games.

Ipswich have used 11 different pairings in the heart of the defence, not counting the odd occasions they have gone for three at the back, but Santos insists that is not the root of the problem.

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He said: “It is not a problem who I play alongside because they all have their qualities. When we lose it is not really down to having an unsettled defence. It is more down to us not playing as a team.

“It doesn't matter too much about changing the defence it is about playing as a team.

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“If the shape is there, from the front two, the midfield and the back, then we should not have problems.”

And Santos feels they are in good company.

He added: “AC Milan is a good example, they did not play as a team and they lost heavily (in the Champions' League this week).

“If we play as a team for the whole 90 minutes then we don't concede a goal. In September when we went on that good run we were playing as a unit and we did not concede as many goals.”

Just like in any other sport teams need the rub of the green and Santos believes Lady Luck has deserted Ipswich this season.

He said: “We have been a bit unlucky most of this season because when we have made a mistake, bang, it has cost us a goal. Other teams, for example Norwich, they made five or six mistakes against us yet did not concede a goal - that is the luck they have had.”

But the biggest factor has been the errors which have been committed by virtually every player in the team at some point or another.

Santos admitted: “Rarely do we have goals scored against us from 20 yards or have great goals scored against us, usually it comes from a mistake by us and it proves costly.

“We are being punished for those errors but that is part of the game and we have to get on with it.

“These things happen, look at 4-0 against AC Milan by Deportivo la Coruna, look at Real Madrid. Okay they are not the best defensively but they are still top of the Spanish league.

“We are not at the same level as them but we are similar in that we can score a lot of goals but as a team we let ourselves down defensively.”

Town have worked on keeping their shape all week in training but it is difficult for the team to change their style completely and become totally secure.

Santos agreed: “We can't really play boring football but it would be better if we were to win 1-0; it may not excite the fans but the results would be better.”

Santos played against Rotherham for Tranmere, Grimsby and Sheffield United and knows South Yorkshire well. His association with the Blades will ensure he gets a hard time by the Millermen today.

He said: “I was there for two years so I expect I will get plenty of stick.

“That won't bother me, it will just make me even more determined to win and to get the three points to get into the top six.

“Rotherham will be difficult. It is a small pitch and not a good one. They are very physical, they like to play the long ball, longs throws and set pieces so we know we have to keep our shape and stay focused.

“When they came here it was a tight game and we won 2-1 but again we made a mistake for their goal.”

A sixth clean sheet today would make a perfect birthday present for manager Joe Royle who was 55 on Thursday and would help Fabian Wilnis celebrate making his 200th Ipswich Town appearance.

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