‘We were a bit naive, but it’s about learning’

Our under-21s slipped to a 6-2 defeat against Cheltenham Town in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night - but Freddie Ljungberg believes that it will be a valuable learning experience for his side.

We showed flashes of quality and dominated possession in stages, but ultimately going down to 10 men in the seventh minute cost us the game.

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

on the manic start to the game…
We were a bit naive and that’s why we play this tournament, for us to learn. We lost the ball a little bit in the beginning while we were playing out from the back and that’s what we have to learn from. I told the boys that if they’re on you like that then maybe you need to change the way you do things and be intelligent. I still think that we’re the better football players so we should have been able to play the ball out, but you have to see the options and what they’re doing. They changed their system to a back five which was a bit different from what we thought, which makes the way we play out from the back different, so it took them a bit of time. Then obviously we got the sending off and they scored from the free-kick and that killed us unfortunately. We had some players that we integrated back into the game and some changes we couldn't do until later because they couldn’t play more than 25 minutes, so we tried to get them into the game at the same time but it’s difficult when you get a sending off.

on the way we finished the first half…
In the middle of the second half we played really well after we made the change and we changed the system a little bit to how we felt would be right, but for example Gedion couldn’t get on until there was 20/25 left because that’s all he could play, so we waited for that little bit. We had a game plan in the second half to go out there and go for it, but we made some naive mistakes again at the start of the second half. It’s always tough but I felt when we were back to 4-2 there were some good chances and we thought maybe we could get back into it, but they were experienced and they played well and they kept at us, so well done to them.

on whether he wishes his side could have displayed their football with 11 men…
Of course we would have, but to be able to dominate possession like we did at times with one man less is a good thing, but at the same time the scoresheet doesn’t lie, we lost clearly. In the end they countered and killed us off, so we have to learn but it’s tough when you play against Coventry, play really well, beat them 3-0 and lose her like this, but it’s always difficult when you get a sending off and give away some easy goals.

on the positives that he can take away from the game…
The positives are that we can learn and try not to make the same mistakes again. Small things that we will look at when we look at the videos and the players will then be able to see the mistakes that we’ve done and learn from it because most of the goals they scored are from individual mistakes. Then when you do that against professional players who do this for a living and are a bit older you get punished - and that’s what happened today.

on John-Jules leading the line…
Yeah, he played really well and kept the ball well. Sometimes we did really well but our mistakes killed us a little bit and they had some good players who put the ball in the net. It was tough, but with 10 men that early on we still did alright.

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