Players must take responsibility

ONCE can be dismissed as a slip, twice is sloppy but three times is downright slipshod. The Blues have now conceded in the last minute of an away game three times in a row and leading sports psychologist Dr George tells football writer Derek Davis how it has now become a self-fulfilling prophesy for Ipswich Town players and how they should address the problem.

ONCE can be dismissed as a slip, twice is sloppy but three times is downright slipshod. The Blues have now conceded in the last minute of an away game three times in a row and leading sports psychologist Dr George tells football writer Derek Davis how it has now become a self-fulfilling prophesy for Ipswich Town players and how they should address the problem.

LIFE and sport can be measured in inches and in seconds.

In rugby and boxing in particular it is imperative not to give an inch. In football territorial advantage is less important, indeed going back to start again can be a good thing. But even so players need to fight inch by inch to take control of a game, which is why every player must scrap away to force themselves into a lead and fight even harder not to concede an inch.

Possibly more important is the minute-by-minute and second-by-second control in a match.


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We saw at Derby how quickly things can change and how vital seconds can be.

Derby were on top and had what looked a just goal followed, before Ipswich took advantage of a lapse of concentration by the Rams players and scored an unlikely opener.

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But more devastating was Ipswich's own lack of focus in the last few minutes of the game as Derby plucked out a last gasp winner.

In isolation, as upsetting as it was for Town to lose in that manner, it is not too worrying - but the fact that the Blues lost to a late goal for the third game in a row is of colossal concern.

The only difference is that at Pride Park the defeat was not against a team from the north whose name begins with 'B', and that the Rams' goalscorer was Arturo Lupoli and not someone called McCann.

Dr George Sik from Diss is a leading sports psychologist and believes the Town players should stop absolving themselves of blame and take it upon themselves to break the habit of conceding at set plays, and more especially in the dying seconds of a game.

Dr Sik said: “As with all patterns of behaviour it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the players will now believe it is outside their control. They will put it down to bad luck and surrender any sense of responsibility. Sub consciously they will sit back and let it happen because they will believe it is not their fault.

“It is easy to fall into the trap of not blaming yourself in a team and it is easy to diffuse responsibility by saying it is not your fault but the guy next to you or it is down to bad luck.

“Then when you think you won't do anything about it.”

While the Blues have been made to pay for their lack of attention at set plays a dozen times already this season, it has been particularly galling to concede in time added on in three consecutive away games.

The first at Burnley almost three weeks ago came when a short corner caught them out and Chris McCann headed Alan Mahon's cross in, two minutes into time added on.

At Barnsley the fourth official had already raised the board showing four extra minutes when Grant McCann latched on to a headed clearance by Simon Walton before driving in the Tykes' winner.

Then at Derby on Wednesday it looked as if the Blues were going to snatch a draw before Lupoli reacted quickest to Michael Johnson's knock-back from a Morten Bisgaard corner to give the Rams victory.

So instead of having an extra three points the Blues were minus nine for the trio of matches.

Manager Jim Magilton has said that 'responsibility' has become a dirty word within the club and Dr Sik agrees that the only way for the pattern of behaviour to change is for the players to each take it upon themselves to change.

He said: “It is a question of saying 'this has got to stop' and all the players taking responsibility and ensuring they do something about it.

“They need to draw a line under it.

“Mistakes are more likely to happen away from home, where there is much more of an unknown factor regarding supporters and surroundings. The players will be more susceptible to falling into a negative pattern, but they must stop thinking that it is not their fault and it is down to bad luck.

“Instead of convincing themselves that it is not down to them, they need to address the problem individually and as a team. The moment the board goes up to signal time added on should be enough to alert the players to the danger and they will by now be aware of the problem, and it is highly unlikely it will happen a fourth time.”

Ipswich can avenge the late loss at Burnley on Saturday when the Clarets come to Portman Road and can ensure they halt the run of late defeats at Cardiff City the following week.

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