Interview

Ljungberg - Everyone has to look in the mirror

Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg provided an honest assessment of his side’s 4-0 loss to Blackburn on Monday night.

Key players such as Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka were absent, but Ljungberg insisted that this was no excuse for the result.

We spoke to our head coach after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on ending the year in defeat…
Of course it’s hard to end in defeat, but that’s how it is. When we get a lot of players going through to the first team, it then affects the team from that angle because we don’t have the same kind of players and that’s just how the equation works. On one hand as a coach you feel extremely proud and happy that we’re getting so many players through and they’re not with us, but at the same time there’s a difference. We spoke about the players here and they have then been handed the opportunity to play. Of course today we played some players totally out of position because we don’t have enough players, but that’s when you [have to] stand up and be counted for. There will be people here watching but that doesn’t really matter, that’s when you get your chance. We folded today. They are a very physical side and we said that in the first 10 to 15 minutes we will play simple and maybe stretch them a bit because they’re very aggressive and like to get at you, and unfortunately, we lost the ball after 30 seconds, not doing what we had agreed as a team, and we were 1-0 down after 40 seconds. Then we did the same thing in the second half after three minutes and those are the basics that we agreed as a team that we won’t do. It’s a heavy heart after a defeat like this because you were hoping and wanting for players who get their chance to take it.

on failing to create clear-cut chances in the final third…
Of course, we need to do better, but it’s not easy. Cohen is a left back who was playing on the left wing and we tried to move people around and found some good positions, but we couldn’t make it count and that’s where we were missing that little extra quality.

on Xavier Amaechi making his return from injury…
Of course he’s been a big miss. He had a stress fracture and so did Robbie, so we’ve had quite a few long-term injuries. That was probably the highlight of the day when he came on. He was very good before he got injured but I think he only played three games before he got injured, so he needs to go slowly when he comes back into it. He will be a very, very good player but he needs to work because he’s missed a few months of football unfortunately.

on Amaechi providing his side with width…
We’re happy we’ve got a winger back, but as well for individual development and what we’re trying to do here. Of course it’s great to get someone back that can play in that wing position and he’s a great talent, so I was just sad for him that he was injured for so long.

on what he’s hoping to see from his side in their next league outing…
Hopefully we will get a few players back and we have a few suspended as well, so hopefully we will have those back. Everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror and not just think ‘oh, this player is missing and this player is missing’. We are the ones that are on the pitch and we are the ones who have to do the job. There’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves, we just have to get going again and, when we get chances, we need to take them.

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