|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 Middlesbrough|
Sunday, 6th May 2018 Kick-off 12:30
Klug: They Couldn't Have Given Us Any More
Sunday, 6th May 2018 15:45
Town caretaker-manager Bryan Klug felt the Blues squad couldn’t have given him any more during the 2-2 home draw with Middlesbrough in his final game and throughout his four-game tenure as temporary boss.
“They couldn’t have given us any more, could they?” he reflected after Patrick Bamford had grabbed a last-gasp equaliser for the Teessiders.
“That’s been true in all four games. I know it didn’t always work out but I thought the effort was fantastic.
“At the end of the day it would have been nice to win but you can’t deny that Middlesbrough played their part in a fantastic game and our goalie had to make some fantastic saves and there were blocks etc.
“But at times we played some good football and that was the pleasing thing. We were asking the players to play with a bit of quality against a team who were very good.
“Obviously Freddie Sears scoring early was a great thing for us and then I thought they got on top, although I thought we had a threat.
“In the second half, it was quite end to end with the majority of possession with Middlesbrough and we rode our luck at times.
“I couldn’t be more pleased for young Shane McLoughlin coming on and getting involved and getting us a penalty.
“And then it was just whether we could hang on, wasn’t it? An extra 40 seconds for a booking and apparently the goalkeeper was wasting time. He should have booked him for that if he was, I didn’t see that. But there you are, that’s football, you take it.
“If you’d have said a month ago that we’d have ended with that kind of game with that kind of atmosphere, I’d have been delighted.”
After a fractious campaign the season ended on a positive note with a crowd of nearly 19,000 getting behind the Blues and warmly applauding them at the end.
“That was how I was going to judge whether we’d been successful,” Klug added. “Four points out of 12, you’d like to have more than that but at the end of the day, going around the town and talking to people and seeing the atmosphere in the ground, it’s good to see and it’s something to build on.
“I talked to the players about that, it’s something to build on. The spirit is always going to be there with this group and if we can add in some quality that’s a task for the new manager. But I think there’s something to work with.”
Going back to the game, Klug was pleased with the way his side started the match: “It’s been a difficult week to prepare the team, obviously last week was a good result but we were literally running out of players and didn’t know who would be fit.
“We worked on a few things but I think we probably did catch them cold a little bit, they might not have been expecting the way we set up or started. Again, we were encouraging them to start on the front foot, and I thought they did that.
“And Freddie came and got a goal, a bit like the old Freddie and we’re all delighted for that.
“It was a good start but against a good team, a bit like we played Villa, any one of the top six you know are going to come and they’ve got some good players and they caused us a lot of problems.”
Asked about the play-offs in which Boro will face Villa, he said: “I think it’s going to be fantastic to watch the play-offs, I think it’s going to be so exciting, I see really good teams in there, and Boro are certainly one of them.
“I think in Mr Traore, I had to shake his hand at the end because, Myles Kenlock has had a real battle with him, but I think he’s probably one of the best players I’ve seen at this level.”
Klug says he’s surprised Adama Traore, who provided a threat throughout, is playing in the Championship.
“I’ve only watched a couple of their games and obviously the game plan is to get him the ball as much as possible and he gets you fouls, he creates chances, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as quick as him, Kevin Beattie was probably the only one who could keep up with him,” he continued.
“It was great to see that out there and it was a real challenge for us but in terms of the play-offs, Villa were very, very good here, Boro were probably just as good today and Fulham have had a great season and Derby are a good side.
“That’s what the Championship is about now and we’ve got to aspire to reach those levels. I think we caused them a few problems today but I wouldn’t say we’re there yet.”
The caretaker-boss says it was a late decision to start Jordan Spence and Cameron Carter-Vickers due to knee and ankle knocks respectively.
“Literally this morning,” he said. “They did do a little bit of training yesterday, but you’re never sure with the injuries they had whether they’d report in injured today.
“Jordan played but he was a little bit sore, which was why he came off in the end. It was just causing him a problem, a medial ligament injury. But I thought he was terrific. I could go through the whole team, I don’t think anybody let us down today.”
Should anything be read into loan pair Carter-Vickers and Callum Connolly starting? “We’d have them back straight away, wouldn’t we? Of course we would.
“I think you wanted to put probably as much experience [out there] and those lads have done really well and they deserved their chance to play in front of this crowd because they’ve had to play in some of those games where it wasn’t good.
“But both of them, personality and character, you couldn’t want any better, so as much as I’d like to see all the young players out there, I thought they deserved their chance today.”
Reflecting on the end of his four games in charge, he said: “My overriding emotion, I’m quietly quite pleased. It could have gone worse, that was always at the back of my mind.
“I think I’ll reflect in time and think that it was a great experience. And the main thing is experience for Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg and the players have shown their appreciation for them, and that can only be good for the club. And if it’s good for the club it makes me happy.
He added: “I want everyone to support this club and the club has great values. I’ve been brought up that way, 1977/78 was my first season at the club and for me, I think it’s a great football club and I’d just like to behave and have pride in it.
“That’s what the club’s all about, people getting behind the team. We can see the team’s not ready for certain challenges yet, but you can recognise the effort, and I think that’s what the club should be about.”
The squad will now depart for the summer having been given their close season fitness programmes by fitness coach Andy Liddell.
“They’re all going their various ways. We’ve debriefed them and they’ll no doubt be going to all the hot spots, Dubai or wherever, and I’ll be going to Felixstowe or something,” Klug said.
“They’ve all been given their programmes for the summer, Lids has sorted all that out.”
“There’s two ways of approaching the game today,” he said. “You can make five or six changes but then the players you’re leaving out then haven’t played for 10 or 11 days [before the first play-off match] and you worry about their fitness levels - would they go in a bit stale, a little bit off the pace?
“Or you could play them and know the week ahead is a more relaxed week. Seeing the weather, I said to them on Friday and today before the game that this wasn’t just a game of football, it was a game for fitness because of the hot weather. It gives me a chance to work them at the weekend and take it a bit easier next week. And that was how we approached it.
“It’s always a tough place to come to. Ipswich are running round and they’ve got some energy and they’ve done well for Bryan and it was important we approached the game in the right way.”
Pulis was a member of the Bristol Rovers side Town beat 3-0 in a replay at Portman Road after a controversial 2-2 draw at Eastville on their way to the 1978 FA Cup final, which they won 40 years ago today.
Reminded of that match, Pulis said: “That was a joke that game! Bobby Gould had a goal disallowed that was not offside! His son, Jonathan, is on the bench with me.”
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