Skuse: We're Going Through a Blip, We're Not Hiding Away From It
Sunday, 15th Dec 2019 17:12
Vice-captain Cole Skuse admits Town are going through a “little bit of a blip” at present but says no one is hiding away from it and is confident that squad has what it takes to finish the season in the top two.
Skuse skippered from right-back as the second-placed Blues were beaten 2-1 at home by Bristol Rovers on Saturday and admitted his team had a mountain to climb after allowing the Pirates, who are up to fourth, two early goals.
“Giving a team that’s in a good run of form and in a decent spot in the league, chasing similar spots to ourselves, a two-goal start, sloppy goals from our behalf as well, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“Even when they went down to 10 men, it’s still tough because they camp men in behind the ball and it’s tough to break down.
“On the flip-side, we still had chances, we got in good areas and on another day we could have nicked something.”
Despite being 2-1 behind at half-time a Town comeback to win 3-2 or 4-2 looked on with the Blues encamped in and around the visitors’ box in the minutes before the break.
“Yes, the two goals we conceded, without being disrespectful to them, they didn’t offer much more,” Skuse added.
“We had them penned in for a huge chunk of the first half and, you’d argue, without really threatening their goal too much in the second half, we had loads of possession and penned them in.
“It’s just a frustrating one because it was a big game for us and we’re on a little bit of a blip, which happens to every team, let’s not get away from that. We’ve got to look to turn that around as quickly as we can next weekend.”
The Blues are now without a win in their last four League One matches, three draws and Saturday’s defeat, with their last won the 1-0 success at Rochdale on November 5th. In all competitions Town have won once over 90 minutes in the last 10.
Asked whether Town are missing skipper Luke Chambers, Skuse said: “Yes, Chambo would be missed in any team not just because of his presence and his voice, his ability as well, he’s been around the block and he’s a very, very good centre-half.
“But saying that, in fairness to them, in the last couple of weeks the lads have been brilliant, Luke Woolfenden and Willo have been brilliant today, and probably warrant their places at the minute.”
The Blues have scored only nine goals in their last 10 games in all competitions and Skuse accepts Town are struggling to find the net at present.
“As a team, yes,” he said. “Like I say, we’re going through a little blip, which all teams go through. We’re not hiding away from it, we’re going to front up to it and it’ll turn for us.
“We’re trying to take positives from the negative situation. Granted we’ve just lost at home to a team in and around us, but we’ve still got a game in hand, we’re still in second place and we’re still in December. There’s no league ever won in December.”
Bristolian Skuse, who was with Bristol Rovers as a schoolboy before joining Bristol City where he spent 17 years before signing for Town in 2013, says he has no long-term concerns regarding the run - “No” - and still firmly believes the squad is capable of finishing in the top two.
“Of course I do,” he insisted. “I’m not just saying that to you because I’m stood chatting to you now, you don’t come and think, ‘Jesus, we’re in a false position, it’s a false dawn’. It’s not. We’ve earnt our place.
“And it’s a huge credit to the group of lads that we’ve got to have turned around the mentality we had from last season. Let’s not get away from the fact that we were losing and drawing most weeks, we had a really poor season.
“To spin that round and be second in the league this early in the season is a credit to everyone.”
While fans have for the most part stuck with the Blues, there were a smattering of boos at full-time on Saturday and Skuse is aware there might come a tipping point if the poorer form continues.
“There’s always going to be because we’re a huge club and I know the gaffer has said it before, we’re there to be shot at, everyone wants to come to Ipswich or play Ipswich and beat Ipswich,” he added.
“So we can’t cower away from it, we’ve got to be bold and when the fans do turn you’ve got be bold and take the ball and still be brave.
“But are fans are brilliant on the whole, they’re a great group and they deserve a good, positive season this season.”
While Town’s away form - 23 points from 10 games - is the best in the division - Rotherham are second with 20 from 11 - the Blues are 16th in the home form table having taken only 13 points from nine League One matches at Portman Road, winning just three.
Asked what he believes is behind the disparity, Skuse said: “It’s definitely the approach from the opposition, but that’s credit to them, they’ve come with a game plan, to do a job and get the result.
“We’d be doing exactly the same. That’s the Ipswich Town badge and name going ahead of us, teams want to come here and do a number on us.
“And if that means coming here to set-up and camp behind the ball and hit us on counter-attacks, we’ve got to be big enough, brave enough and ugly enough to come away from the game having dealt with that.”
Skuse admits it was a surprise to start at right-back, a role he often played early on in his career at Bristol City and has occupied on a handful of occasions at Town.
“A bit of a surprise,” he said. “JD [Janoi Donacien] fell ill overnight. With Chambo coming back from a serious neck and back injury it’s a bit too soon for him, so the gaffer said he needed me to play at right-back, which is something I’ve done before. It’s not brand new to me, it's showing a bit of versatility and if it’s helping out, it’s helping out.”
At Friday’s press conference manager Paul Lambert said that at 33 Skuse won’t go on forever and praised the recent form of youngsters Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes in central midfield. However, Skuse believes he has a few more years in him yet.
“I’ll never go on forever, that’s one thing you definitely can’t do, but I’m far from at that point yet,” he said.
“I feel really fit, I feel good, I feel as if I’ve had a reasonable start to the season. I’ve played every league game up until last weekend, so I feel I can offer far more for far more years than just the end of this one.”
Reflecting on Dozzell and Downes, he added: “They are talents and you can’t hide away from that, they’re England internationals and they deserve all the plaudits they get.
“I’m not the one that picks the team, the gaffer picks the team and he’ll go with the team that he wants to go with.”
Looking ahead to the games over the Christmas period, the Blues are at Portsmouth next Saturday with a visit to leaders Wycombe, who are now seven points ahead of Town, the pick of the holiday fixtures on New Year’s Day.
“Big games," Skuse reflected. "Some very tough games and, like I say, we’re not going to hide away from anyone, we’re bold enough and brave enough to go and take anyone on.”
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