Jack Ross met the press ahead of our trip to Portman Road on Saturday. Here’s a full transcript…
Any injury news?
“We still have some missing and some edging closer to full fitness also. Aiden [McGeady] has had a full week of training and is more or less up to speed now, Max [Power] is getting closer in terms of the amount of training he’s done. Duncan Watmore has picked up a knock and is unavailable, Charlie Wyke and Ethan Robson are both still unavailable. But those who missed a lot of pre-season like Aiden and Max, Chris [Maguire] missed a bit also, they’re getting back towards full fitness now as well. All three have trained all week. Ideally you would like every player available for all of pre-season, but we had most of the squad for the majority of the sessions. Aiden and Max were obviously both carrying their injuries from last season, but with the exception of that we’ve been okay. It is frustrating when you pick up little niggles here and there that impact on everyone being available, but by and large we’re okay.”
Reflections on the Oxford game…
“It’s one game out of 46 league games. I always have a slightly different outlook on things because, probably unlike my most people, I watch the game more than once. I’ve watched it probably three times, and from different angles also. So the post-match reaction as a manager is the one I think is most difficult to get right because it’s very quick after the game and there’s emotion involved in it. But after watching it again you can adjust your thoughts on it. Sometimes it can be consistent with what you thought at the time, and looking back on Saturday, I think what I said after the game I still stand by. I thought our general play was good, we had a lot of opportunities in terms of working the ball into the final third, it was just our final ball, either from wide areas or within the box, just wasn’t good enough. I said that immediately after the match and having watched it again it would be a fair criticism. So a lot the parts of the play and what we’ve worked on were good. The last part, which is the hardest part and also the most important part, we need to be better at.”
“Yeah. We want to be more flexible in how we approach games, as most sides are now. That can be in game too. Some people probably might not even realise we changed to a back four in the latter part of the game because sometimes the difference between a back four or three or five is not obvious. You have to have a flexibility within any system, even if it is your starting one. So the idea was to be more flexible to give us more options not just for starting games, but within games as well.”
Ipswich on Saturday...
“We knew this would be a difficult fixture, regardless of when it would fall on the calendar. But for us, in order to be where we want to be this season we have to go and look to get the win. I think once the dust had settled on last weekend, the players looked back on the game and we spoke and they were of the same opinion as me, that parts of the play were good and if we could replicate those and add in that final quality we lacked, we have every chance of winning at Ipswich.”
It doesn't feel like too big a gap to bridge to be successful...
“The margins in which we fell short last season were small. I said this post-match Saturday that there’s a myth around what those margins were. It wasn’t that we didn’t score enough. I know this because I look at these key details, and on average in the last five or six seasons you needed around 75 goals to get promoted and we scored 80. But on average you’ve got to keep 20 clean sheets and we only kept 13. So, this myth that goes around about why we fell short is not the reality. We need to keep clean sheets in games, and Saturday was another example. Keep a clean sheet and score and you will win the game. I know it sounds very simplistic but that was another lesson for us at home, because every time we fall behind at home we give the opposition something to hang on to and that makes it more challenging because the game becomes a little more stop-start which affects the flow. The fine margins we want to improve on, the players are aware of but the hardest part is then doing it on the park.”
Will Grigg firing on all cylinders make your job a lot easier?
“There’s a collective responsibility to score goals, but naturally your attack-minded players are the ones it falls upon more greatly. We put 34 crosses in the box, many not so good, but some which were good quality. It’s then how we capitalise on those good balls into the box. We have a number of players in the squad who we feel can contribute goals and over the season on average we need our top five scorers to contribute around about 55-60 goals between them. And that’s what we need to get from them.”
The next two games are tough…
“I think at the moment everybody would agree with that. But I think if you look at last year, would many have predicted Luton would have won the league? Probably very few did, even though they had that momentum of winning the league. So at the moment, looking at the squads on paper and the size of the clubs, you’re they would hope to be competing at the top, but as we discovered last season it’s a tough league to go and win games week-in, week-out.”
Are you pleased with the transfer business so far?
“I’m satisfied with it, given the parameters that we now work under at the club. I think there needs to be a greater appreciation and understanding of those. The club has been in a huge transitional period for a while now and we recruit in a very different market and under very different circumstances. So, given that, with the exception of George (Dobson) which was a very small fee, we recruited players that were out of contract. That market is large in numbers, but it’s not always large in quality. We feel that the ones we’ve brought in have the necessary quality to get us promoted.”
Can you still do more business before the window closes?
“We said on Saturday that we still feel we need more cover on the left-hand side of the pitch. We have Denver there who is a young man and we feel has a big future, but we need competition in that area of the pitch and also depth. He’s the only real natural we have in that area. We have players that can cover there, but ideally you want players who are natural there. We have been working on stuff, but when the Championship and Premier League window closes today, that will impact on the availability of some players, and also the ability for us to bring them to the club with the parameters we work under. The window closing for them today shuts down the number of possibilities these clubs have to get certain players out.”
Sympathy or advice for Ipswich…
“Even if I did have any advice to offer I wouldn’t want to do that. They’re going to be competing with us to try and get promoted. But they have a very experienced manager in Paul Lambert, and I think any club in this league will view them as a big club and will recognise it when they go to Portman Road and the size of the crowd and the history, it makes it challenging.”
Could it be a good time to play Ipswich?
“No, I never really look too much like that. I think you have to play every team home and away and although that sounds simplistic, the plan never really changes on how to play against them. We found that last year. I don’t think any game got harder or easier, depending on when they played us. We always knew this would be a tough game and a challenging game, but one which we should look forward to because it’s a good venue to go an play in.”
Could you put a figure on how many more new players you would like?
“That priority is the left sided player. Other than that it’s hard to say. I don’t work with the budget here and I’ve never had one, so it’s difficult for me to say with certainty what I can and can’t do. But we would certainly like to address that issue on the left hand side of the pitch.”