Interview

‘That’s the best full game I’ve seen from them’

Our under-21s beat Coventry City 3-0 on Wednesday night - and Freddie Ljungberg believes that it was our strongest performance of the season so far.

Emile Smith Rowe broke the deadlock in the fourth minute, before Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock scored late in the second half to ensure that we left the Ricoh Arena with all three points.

We spoke to Ljungberg after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on marking 20 years since signing for the club with a win...
I’ll have to say thanks to the boys. It was a great day!

on their positive start and handling some late pressure in the first half...
That’s what we talk about and this is why I wanted to play in this tournament. This is men’s football and they need to understand that sometimes you get under pressure and it’s a different kind of football. They crossed the ball a lot in the later stages of the first half and we dealt with it, and that’s part of the football. Of course when it comes to the beginning we want to be offensive, we want to play football and get at it and keep the ball, so the boys did great.

on his side showing greater game management in the second half…
Yeah, exactly. Even in the end of the first half it was about game management too. Sometimes you won’t have the ball and you’ll have to do more defending and they did that. Then we talked about that they will get tired, there will be spaces and you have to be brave and play out of the back to get space, so they did everything and I’m really proud. I said to them that that’s the best full game that I’ve seen them play where it looked like proper football.

on the importance of finding the right balance between youth and experience…
In general terms I think it’s important in under-23s or under-21s to find a mix and if you look in Germany they have some much older players to give some leadership and understanding for the young players and almost be the coach on the pitch, so it’s good of course, but we had quite a lot of young players and we didn’t have a problem with the rules because they’re quite complicated, but it was easy!

on the experience of playing against a League One side…
It’s great - it’s invaluable! Like I said, this is what I think is most important for my boys. They played against grown up players and you could see that. Sometimes there were harder tackles and they’re not physically as strong as their opponents, so they had to work on other thing.

on Joe Willock’s performance…
He played really well and he’s a very good player, but today we shouldn’t just bring out Joe. There were other players that made great contributions and I’m just very proud of them all.