Burley on Season Ahead
Friday, 2nd Aug 2002 15:12
Town manager George Burley feels that pre-season has gone well so far and says that his players are determined and hungry to do well in the season ahead. Burley was speaking on Friday afternoon ahead of tomorrow's final pre-season game against Celta Vigo.
The Blues have a few players on the sidelines for the visit of the Spaniards, but there is good news on a number of fronts: “Chris Makin, Jermaine Wright and Alun Armstrong were all in training today, so they are coming along.
“Mark Venus and Ulrich Le Pen are still out, while Tommy Miller and Wayne Brown both got knocks in Wednesday at Brentford. Tommy Miller's injury seems to have settled down and we'll see what he's like tomorrow.
“Wayne Brown won't be available tomorrow but hopefully he'll be OK after two or three days. So, one or two missing but we've got the nucleus of the squad from pre-season which has done well.”
Burley sees the Spanish side which features the likes of Benni McCarthy, Gustavo Lopez, Alexander Mostovoi and former Arsenal man Silvinho as a tricky proposition: “It will be a very tough game against one of the best Spanish sides who are playing in Europe again this season. They've got some very talented players and I think it will be a very tough game.”
He will be starting Darren Ambrose at Portman Road for the first time and has been impressed by the midfielder's contribution so far this summer: “Young Darren has done well pre-season. He missed the last game at Brentford but he scored a cracking goal against Bristol Rovers has developed well. He's enjoyed being in the first team squad.
“He's another very good youngster come through the ranks, along with Darren Bent, over the last six months. He's a talented attacking midfielder player who can play on the left or the right, can score goals and I'm sure he's looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Town boss says his side have played particularly well in the first team friendlies against Bristol City and Brentford: “The last two games have been exceptional. Playing away from home against tough opposition is never easy and to win 3-0 shows that we are along the right lines.
“In the last couple of seasons we've played against top Italian and Dutch teams and it's nice to get a Spanish side for the fans coming back to Portman Road for the first time. The North Stand's finished now and it's a lovely stadium. I think everybody looking forward to the start and we're looking to jump straight back.
“Preparation is important for a good start to the season and the players are all looking hungry. I've said that from the start of the season we've got to look to score goals and to win the title we've got to aim to emulate Manchester City last season when they scored 100 goals. So, it's good to have had six goals in the last two games.
Burley says that the new larger Portman Road can be a big factor in helping his side: “The atmosphere's very important in the ground and the lack of a North Stand made a lot of difference. In the two or three home games everybody could feel that the atmosphere was tremendous and with 30,000 fans it's going to be great and can provide a big boost for the players.
“The fans have been absolutely tremendous, I was at our London Branch earlier in the week, and they've really stuck behind us. We've sold 18,000 season tickets and the fans, right to the last game of the season at Liverpool, were fabulous.
“We want to have a good season for them. Every season that I've been manager each year improved except the last one which was a big blow for myself, the coaching staff and everybody at the club and we're determined to have a good season this time and the fans and atmosphere are very important.”
There seems to be no change regarding the lack of moves in or out of Portman Road, however, the Blues' boss feels there is still time: “The market is very flat and there's not much happening, but there's still three or four weeks before the transfer window closes, so who knows what's round the corner?”
As for his first choice side, he feels it is a case of who is in form at the time: “At the end of the day we've got a squad of players and it's who's playing the best will get in the team. I've got options right through the side, right from the goalkeeper to the attackers. There are a lot of options and it'll be the players in form who will get a regular game.
“We're completely focussed on bouncing back straight away. Last time we went up through the play-offs, but I've said to the players we're aiming for that top spot, we know it's going to be difficult, it's a tough league but we're focussed and determined.
“Last season was a difficult one for a number of reasons but that's gone now. We are showing a lot of determination, belief and desire in pre-season and the players are aiming to reward the fans for sticking by us by taking the club back to the Premiership. We're determined to keep playing the style of football we're renowned for. Last season was difficult, but we're determined that this season we'll put it right.”
Photo: Action Images
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