Gill: Establishing Early Season Momentum Was Vital
Monday, 2nd Sep 2019 15:18
First-team coach Matt Gill believes it was vital for the Blues start their campaign well and gain some early-season momentum following last year’s relegation from the Championship.
And Town have done precisely that, picking up 14 points in their first month in League One, taking them to the top of the table by two points.
“It’s been good, it’s been good to be involved in,” Gill said. “Turning that momentum from last season was going to be vital, especially early on in the season.
“I think the players had a really good pre-season and have got off to a steady start, which has been great.
“I think the fans have been a big part of that, obviously, helping turn that momentum and making the environment at Portman Road really vibrant and that’s been really enjoyable to work in.”
He says it was important to start well: “Very much so, last year ended like it did and you get used to that feeling, so it was obviously very important to start that pre-season well, work the lads hard and get loads of stuff into them.
“And they’ve taken that into the fixtures, so it’s been very pleasing to see. Obviously it’s still early days but we’re really pleased with how it’s taken off so far.”
Having made that positive start the Blues have now set themselves up as the team to beat in the division, however, former midfielder Gill, 38, believes that would have been in the case anyway.
“I would imagine that would probably have been the same regardless of where we are in the league,” he reflected.
“I think we’re a big club in the league, most people’s cup final is coming to our place, so it was always going to be tough.
“So I’m pleased that we’ve got over a few battles so far and it’s pleasing to get the wins on the board.”
Gill, who was brought to the club by Paul Lambert when he took over last October, says some players will relish having a target on their backs.
“That’s right, the lads are going to have to show loads of courage this year,” he continued. “There are going to be times where teams come and defend really well, obviously we went behind against AFC Wimbledon and I think we showed loads of courage that night, coming from behind, still having belief, sticking together.
“I think the fans were great that night to help that and that’s going to be the case many times this season.
"Everyone’s going to need to show bravery and show courage to get on the ball when maybe things aren’t going great just to get those important wins and goals that we need.”
Gill played in League One in his playing days and says there have always been one or two clubs like Town and Sunderland at this level.
“There’s always been one or two big clubs or bigger clubs, the likes of Leeds that played in the league, Charlton, Forest were down there, Southampton,” he recalled.
“There’s always been big clubs at the level, so it’s important that we make sure we stick to doing what we’re doing and really carry on.
“We're going to come up against teams that are going to be hard to play against, away from home there’s going to be some really important fixtures, but at the moment we just need to do what we’re doing, take one game at a time and keep churning out those results.”
Town’s bench at the weekend included Jon Nolan, Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell with the former pair set to feature against Tottenham’s U21s tomorrow.
“Andre's away with England, which is great for him, but Nolo and Huwsy have got an opportunity to build that fitness up,” Gill added.
“Nolo missed a little bit of pre-season, so it’s important for those boys and there is massive strength in depth, which is brilliant for the club and there could be a lot of games this season and you’re going to need everybody. So having everyone at full throttle is going to be important.”
Gill had praise for Flynn Downes, who has enjoyed a hugely impressive first month of the season which he capped with Saturday’s third goal.
“Flynn's been superb, I can’t speak highly enough about him,” he said. “He’s a great lad to work with, very low maintenance, gets on with it, works really hard, is desperate to improve and he’s shown that in his performances this season. I’m really, really pleased for him and I’m sure he’ll carry on.”
Gill says having a strike pair who have already netted nine goals between them - James Norwood with five and Kayden Jackson with four - gives the rest of the team a boost.
“It does give a massive lift, knowing that you’ve got goals in the team is perfect,” he continued.
“At times last year, I’m not speaking out of turn, we probably felt that if we conceded then we were going to struggle to win games because we were struggling for goals a little bit.
“This year to have loads of firepower is superb, the boys are in really good form. Will Keane’s now in the building as well and Jordan Roberts, so we’ve got loads of options up front, so it’s an opportunity for everyone to be really forward-thinking and attack-minded.”
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