Nsiala: It Doesn't Matter What League You Come From
Friday, 3rd May 2019 17:34
Town defender Toto Nsiala is unhappy that he and his team-mates who arrived last summer from Leagues One and Two have, in some quarters, been blamed for the club’s relegation from the Championship.
Following his release by Everton as a teenager, 27-year-old Nsiala spent the bulk of his career at lower league level before being transferred from Shrewsbury in May last year, one of 12 new signings made by manager Paul Hurst after he succeeded Mick McCarthy in the hot seat at Portman Road.
“I don’t think it matters what league you’ve come from,” said Nsiala. “I’ve seen and heard a lot of people saying the lads from League One and League Two have not had the best step-up but I don’t think that has really been the case.
“At other clubs players from the lower leagues have stepped up and played really well in the Championship, so that’s just another excuse that I think is a bit harsh and disrespectful to the lads in question.
“They’ve all tried their best but the team hasn’t worked. Now we’ve got to find a way of gelling, getting stronger and winning games next season.
“It’s got nothing to do with players from League One or League Two. There are players in those leagues that I’m surprised are still playing there and haven’t stepped up yet. It’s just how it has worked out.”
Nsiala is also honest enough to admit he has not been at his best since joining Town. Asked if he was happy with his form over the past eight or nine months, he replied: “No, not personally. I’ve not been at my best but it was always going to be a bit of a tough step-up, especially without having pre-season with the club and coming into it straight away.
“I’ve always felt I’ve been chasing things fitness-wise but at least that will be different next season.
“Has playing in the Championship improved me as a player? I’ve got to be honest and admit the results would say not a lot.
“But in training with the manager and having better players around me I’ve had to be switched on and I believe I have learned a lot, especially in the last couple of months, and I’ll be taking that into next season with me.”
The team spirit that exists at Town is another reason why Nsiala believes he could be back in the Championship next year. “With most teams in our situation, bottom of the table and getting relegated, there would be a split in the dressing room and a lot of unhappiness,” he explained.
“But here we have a lot of togetherness – we go to the cinema together and things like that – and we’ve all said that whatever happens we stick together.
“Even the lads that are not involved, they are still rooting for the lads who are, and that is not always the case at clubs that are relegated. It has surprised me but it’s something I have really liked.”
Nsiala has been in Lambert’s starting line-up for the last three games and will be hoping to make it four in a row when Leeds come to town on Sunday for the final fixture of the league programme.
Reflecting on the season overall, he said: “I’ve been in and out of the team. It’s been tough but you just have to make sure you train properly, which is what I’ve done, and just get on with it.
“We’ve not had many clean sheets but that’s just the way it has been. At the other end we’ve hit the bar or the post, or missed a really good chance, and then the other team has gone and scored.
“Our luck hasn’t been great either. There have been a lot of times when the other team has hit a post and the ball’s bounced back perfectly for them to score but at the other end it wouldn’t happen to us. It’s what it is meant to be, that’s how I see things.
“It’s just been a mental thing coming here, trying not to over-think things. I tend to shoot myself by reading comments and seeing what people say about me. It can lead to you starting to doubt yourself and that shows out on the pitch.
“Recently I’ve just stopped letting it get to me and I don’t care what people say. I’ve just tried to perform as well as I can and look to become mentally stronger.
“I did see a sports psychologist, probably about six years ago, and what has stuck with me is that you’re only as good as what you think of yourself.
“There are a lot of people with opinions and they say stuff but I’m learning that you can’t let it get to you.
“After Sunday I’m going to turn Instagram off. I’ve been on there a lot, looking at comments from players at teams that are getting promoted or in the play-offs.
“It actually hurts to see some of my friends doing well. Yes, I’m happy for them but I want to be in the same situation as them.
“Come Sunday I’m going to stay away from it for a couple of weeks then I’ll recharge the batteries and refresh again ready for next season.”
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