Skuse: We Can See Light at the End of the Tunnel
Monday, 3rd Dec 2018 06:00
Midfielder Cole Skuse says he and his team-mates can see light at the end of the tunnel, despite Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest leaving the Blues seven points from safety at the bottom of the Championship.
Skuse says the Blues, who are still to taste victory under new manager Paul Lambert with their current winless run now up to seven matches, are able to take more pluses from games now, even those they've lost.
“A defeat’s never easy but we’re far from beating ourselves up,” Skuse said after the game at the City Ground where Town last won back in 1999.
“We’re not hiding away from the fact that we’re bottom of the league, we’ve come away to Nottingham Forest and we lost 2-0 but we’re taking loads more positives from losing games and bad situations at the minute.
“As a changing room, as a club, we’re in a much better place at the minute and we’re really trying to take the positives out of the defeat.”
Millwall’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City on Sunday meant the gap to safety remains at seven points, a still very significant and rarely bridged margin from this point in a season.
“As I say, we’re not hiding away from the fact that we’re bottom of the league, it’s clear for everyone to see, but there are no panic buttons being pressed, there are plenty of games to play,” Skuse added.
“We’re putting in good performances and, I don’t want to sound like a broken record and sound like I’m just trying to smooth it over with you guys [the media], but we genuinely can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We can see it ourselves. It’ll just take that one game where it will turn for us, we’ll get a result and we can see ourselves picking up plenty more points.”
Regarding keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, whose error led to Forest’s first goal having made a mistake for Bristol City’s opener in the 3-2 defeat at Portman Road on Wednesday, the 32-year-old said: “Bart’s old enough and he’s definitely ugly enough to dust himself down and pick himself up.
“He’s an older man in the changing room and he’s going to make mistakes, he’s made mistakes his career, he’s going to make mistakes in his career like anyone in any walk of life.
“But he’s proven in the past three of four years, he’s been voted the Players’ Player of the Year for the past three years and you don’t turn bad overnight. It’s a couple of mistakes, he’ll dust himself down and he’ll be fine.”
Skuse echoed manager Lambert’s words insisting that confidence isn’t an issue despite the current situation.
“Definitely not, definitely not,” the Bristolian stressed. “And, like I say, this is genuine, I’m not coming out here talking to you guys putting a gloss on it, we’re not in there sat facing the floor, beating ourselves up.
“We’re not hiding away from the fact that we’re bottom of the league but we’re in a far more positive place and we’re playing some really good stuff and it’s only a matter of time before that good stuff turns into results.”
Town have kept only one clean sheet this season - in the 0-0 home draw with 10-man Bolton - but Skuse reiterates that the Blues’ fortunes will change now Lambert has taken over.
“I don’t want to keep repeating myself but we’re not hanging ourselves up on the fact we’ve not got a clean sheet,” he added.
“We know the games are ticking off quick, it’s not going to last forever and we’ve not got forever to turn this situation around and we’re not hiding away from the fact we’re bottom of the league, but we’re not worrying.
“The manager’s instilled a really good mindset into the players young and old that things will turn soon enough.”
Skuse agreed the defeat to his old club Bristol City was probably more of a blow to fans than the Forest loss and praised supporters for their commitment and backing home and away, 1,493 having made the trip to the East Midlands.
“Wednesday was disappointing because we were at home against a team that were on a bad run themselves and we’re kicking ourselves a little bit that we should have beaten them, especially having gone 2-1 up,” he admitted. “The goals we conceded were poor.
“The fans travelled in their thousands today and they’re fantastic at home. I feel as if they’re onside, everyone’s onside, the atmosphere’s been fantastic.
“Even walking around the town, walking around the place you can feel a much better atmosphere and I can only thank them for travelling today because, as we know, Ipswich is geographically challenged, it’s not the closest place to everywhere.
“So for them to travel down here and to have come out in their thousands on a wet Wednesday night, it's massively appreciated by all the players and all the staff.”
Asked whether he felt the current situation was difficult for younger players such as Jack Lankester, who made his full debut at Forest, Teddy Bishop, who made his first start since Boxing Day last year, and Flynn Downes, who was among several members of the squad to watch the game from the away end at the City Ground, Skuse said he thought the opposite.
“I’d disagree I think,” he reflected. “If you spoke to them and asked them, the morale and the atmosphere amongst everyone is not a bottom of the league team.
“You can see that Bish and Jack play with no fear, they did today, they played with a bit of an ease, that bit of spark for us.
"Bish showed glimpses of Teddy Bishop when he’s bang at it and I’ve said from day one that he can play at the very top when he’s fully fit.
“And Jack can be the same, he plays with no fear, he plays with a weight off his shoulders and he goes and expresses himself.”
Skuse says he and the other senior pros have a role to play helping the youngsters making their first steps into senior football.
“We’ve got quite a young squad, so maybe you do, you find yourself going around, talking to lads more, checking how they are, ‘How’s your day today…’, so you probably do.
“There are a couple of us older ones but, as I said, the lads are playing with a real good morale and a freedom at the minute that’s been instilled by the staff that there are not too many concerns.”
Skuse paid tribute to skipper Luke Chambers who made his 300th appearance for the Blues at Forest, the club he left prior to joining Town in the summer of 2012.
“You know the relationship me and Chambo have got, he’s a very, very close friend of mine,” he said.
“He’s not just played 300 games for the club he’s been a massive character for the club on and off the field.
“He’s the best captain I’ve worked under and the stuff he does for the club off the field, I don’t think it goes unnoticed because everyone appreciates what he does, but he’s a fantastic captain, he deserves all the plaudits he gets for making his 300 appearances and hardly ever misses a game. He deserves every bit of credit he gets.”
New boss Lambert has lavished praise on Skuse since he took charge and the midfielder says he’s enjoying his football working under him.
“A lot more,” he admitted. “The gaffer’s come in and he’s been very, very positive with myself from day one.
“He’s been the same with most players, to be fair. He’s taken the shackles off a few and said, ‘Go and express yourself, play your football, get on the ball and enjoy yourselves’.”
Is being able to express yourself what has changed since Lambert took over? “I’d say so, you’re playing with an enjoyment again. You’re not enjoying the fact that you’re bottom of the league, it’s a horrible spot to be, but the lads are in a far better place at the minute, they’re really enjoying themselves.”
Lambert said last week he wished Skuse was 27 not six years older, something the player himself agrees with.
“I wish I was 27 at times when I’m getting up tomorrow morning with three kids it’s not easy,” he added. “He’s been very complimentary from day one and I can only thank him for that.”
Skuse says his role for Lambert is more like the one he played under Mick McCarthy and at Bristol City.
“I’ve never been a player that’s going to go and get 20 goals a season,” he said. “If people think that I should be going and getting 20 goals a season then that’s not going to happen, I’m not that player.
“But I played that position a lot for Bristol City and under Mick I played a lot of games there, that is essentially where I prefer to play.
“I like to think I read the game quite well and I can get on the ball and give the ball to the likes of Bish and Jack, any of those forward-thinking boys who go and do their bit. That’s what I’d prefer really.
“By being that deeper one you can get on the ball and get on the half-turn and play forward more rather than being up the field with your back to their goal.
“That’s not me, I’m not a Teddy Bishop, I’m not a Jack Lankester, I’m not going to create loads, I prefer being deeper and getting on the ball and giving balls forward to them boys.”
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