Interview

Ljungberg We showed our inner strength

Freddie Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg was keen to focus on the positives following our 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday night.

Despite taking the lead on the stroke of half-time through a stunning Xavier Amaechi strike, our youngsters slipped away in the second half and soon found themselves trailing.

Ljungberg provided an honest assessment of our defensive showing - but not without praising our spirited response that saw Gedion Zelalem equalise in the 86th minute.

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

on the performance…
It’s a complicated one. I’m very happy we responded and we came back because we’ve had a lot of injuries, suspensions and players going into the first-team, so the players have been a bit low on confidence because there’s been a lot of changes. That’s what happens and it’s good for us as an academy that we had them all up there in the academy, but they suffer a little bit when they play. We felt that today and talked about it beforehand and in the first half we totally dominated and played exactly to the gameplan and maybe could have scored three or four goals because we had a lot of good chances. In the second half we said that they’re probably going to come at you a bit in the press and they did and we said just turn them then, but unfortunately we didn’t do that and then we came under a bit of pressure. We conceded on a throw in and then we had the ball and two of our players bring it down, don’t communicate and run into each other and then their player gets the ball. We shouldn’t really say it, but sometimes when that happens you have to take the free-kick. Sometimes when you’ve made a mess of it you need to take a free-kick and then go again.

So then they were low at 2-1 down and then I was really proud of them because it’s been tough for them all mentally. They came back and scored the equaliser and dominated again, so that’s what I’m going to take away from this. That inner strength to come back and change the momentum. We’ve also got more and more players coming back. Of course the boys are disappointed and they feel like they lost the game, but we will take the positives that we reacted and scored.

on whether we would have won it if we had more time…
That’s what it felt like! We made two mistakes on goals that affected our confidence, but when we finally managed to get that second goal we were extremely strong once again, so we will work on that and I’ll focus on the positives 

on injuries to Pleguezuelo and John-Jules…
Julio’s been injured for 12 weeks or so with his ankle and after half-time he felt it stiffen up, so he’s not injured, we just decided to take a precaution with him. As for Tyreece, he just got a tight hamstring so he shouldn’t be injured either. We also started Robbie and Xavier tonight who haven’t played for three months, so I wanted to take them off but I couldn’t. They did really well though and they’ve got some minutes in their legs, maybe more than we thought.

on Amaechi scoring on his return from injury…
It was an amazing strike and I think he had two or three when he went past players and delivered some crosses as well, so of course there’s a lot more to come from him. He’s been out for a long while so I’ve felt really sorry for him. He was in full stride and playing really well, but suddenly he had a bit of pain in his foot, didn’t know what it was and it turned out to be a stress fracture, so that’s been tough for him mentally. But now he’s back and playing so that’s nice for him.  

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