Pre Walsall Presser


Here’s Jack Ross’ pre-Walsall presser in full…

On the Barnsley draw

"There wasn't an awful lot disappointing with it. It was disappointing we didn't win the game because there is an expectation upon us to win every game but we are in a position to achieve what we want this season. We travelled to a team who have been in equally as good form as us in recent months and earned a point from a tough game so I am a little bit surprised sometimes by the negativity that surrounds it because on balance it was a draw against a team who where they are in the league for a reason."

On the run of scoring in every league game this season ended

"That hadn't been mentioned that much until we failed to score which is sometimes a reflection on the way things are looked at here. It was almost taken for granted and then when we fail to score it becomes a big deal. To score in that many consecutive league games takes hard work, takes ability, takes endeavour. The players have shown that loads of times. We failed to score against a good team. A team whose home form is outstanding but still we got something out of the game so from that side I was proud of them."

Is negativity irritating Ross?

"I wouldn't say it is irritating me but you have to be realistic with everything you say and do. I can't be defensive or can't protect the players record if you don't have the facts to back it up. We have not lost a game in any competition since December. The players deserve more credit than they get at times. People have this misconception that we should run away with this league. It is absolute nonsense. It is disrespectful to other teams, players and managers in this league. Every point we have achieved this season we have had to really earn. Every point we earn from here on in we will have to work really hard for as well. I think the good thing is from within here, the players understand how hard they have had to work to get where they are and also understand they are in a good position to achieve what they want this season. We are not in a position whereby it is a longshot to achieve what we want to get out of this league. It is still within the realms of possibility."

On injuries

"Nothing new. Obviously we had a number unavailable. We have since had Tom Flanagan, George Honeyman and Reece James joining back in training. Obviously George continues to be suspended but Reece and Tom are back fit and available."

On previous Walsall encounters

"The one league game turned out to be in difficult circumstances with a man sent off wrongly in the first half. The cup game had a weird feeling about it having been down there a week earlier in the league and then playing in front of a much smaller crowd. The replay at the Stadium of Light, we didn't play well. We made a few changes to the team and we chucked something together that didn't quite work for us that night. Walsall deserved to win the game but Saturday will be a very different game in terms of the intensity of our performance and the atmosphere as well."

On Walsall game

"It is just the same as every other team in this league. They will try to combat what we do well and then it is just about finding ways of doing what we do well to the best of our abilities or find different ways to win games. This season has 12 or 13 teams that still have a realistic chance of being relegated which means there are an awful lot of teams with stuff to play for. Walsall fall into that bracket as well. When you look at the amount of teams in this league it is unusual to be in mid-March and have only a couple of exceptions who know they have very little to play for. As time goes on that number will decrease but it means the competitive nature of the games will remain high between now and May. When you manage this club there is an expectation that you win every week. There is a belief that you win every week. There is a hope that you win every week. So for me, nothing really changes. The consequences, perhaps, become more acute but we know at this stage of the season to achieve what we want, we need to be winning games. That starts on Saturday, particularly now we are going into a period where we don't play a league game for a number of weeks after that.

On the international break

"It is important we head into the break with a win. I think the difficulty for us is the number of fixtures we are going to face in the final month of the season. Post-Portsmouth, we have nine games in just over a month. We have had a tough week recently. On the back of those games, you welcome the break. But the consequences of it - I would much prefer to play Fleetwood next week - we have to deal with it. We will just our tweak our schedule a little bit with the international break, to make sure the players come into this final period ready to go. It has been a demanding period recently and this enforced break gives us a little bit of time to ourselves but equally the schedule after that is something no other team has, so we need to make sure we use this break properly. The significance of the games increases so we have to be at our best both mentally and physically. It is a case of managing our players through this period and that will probably be reflected in my team selection from time to time. With nine games in a short period of time we are going to need everybody in the squad."

Does Ross think fans would have taken this position now had it been offered to them at the start of the season?

"I don't know if that would be the case. For every fan that would say yes there would be another fan who would say no. We were a Premier League club two seasons ago. I find the belief that we should run away with this league unrealistic but I am in this job every day. There are a lot of things I do in this job that people don't see so it has been challenging this year for many different reasons. There is a spirit and an atmosphere, that is not very easy in the aftermath of two relegations, that has galvanised us a little bit and we have managed to maintain a fairly balanced emotion through everything that has gone on this season. I was very clear when I first came this season in what I wanted to achieve. If we were sitting here and we were a million miles away from achieving that then that would be some different. But dealing with the facts and reality, we are in a position where we can still achieve that. It is a healthy position to be in but we would like it to be better. Maybe if we could have turned some of those draws into victories then we would be in a little bit better of a position but we are where we are and we can only affect what lies ahead of us. We have 10 fixtures left so that is a lot of points left to play for. There are a lot of tough fixtures ahead for the top four or five so at the moment of time the focus remains on winning our matches."

On George Honeyman's red card

"I think I dealt with this in the aftermath of the game. The behaviour of both technical areas, I had no argument with us both being punished for that. However, do I have any issues of my players and staff looking after each other? No, I don't. You have to be careful with how that manifests itself but we are in a situation where everything is very emotional and the adrenaline that flows through people is hard to describe unless you are directly involved in it. There was an element of looking after each other and that is testament to the spirit that has been created in the last eight or nine months. I would never defend people blindly however, if it is the right reasons for doing it, you can balance it out I think."

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