Chambers: We Are Still in Such a Good Position
Friday, 7th Feb 2020 14:26
Captain Luke Chambers says he would gladly have accepted Town’s current position in League One – fourth, three points behind the leaders and 15 games left to play – before a ball was even kicked this season.
While the Blues were early-season leaders, seven points clear of the third-placed side, and have seen their promotion prospects diminish somewhat, Chambers believes they are still well-placed to realise their end-of-season ambition of regaining their Championship status.
The 34-year-old defender said: “Fourth, three points behind the leaders? From the crap we went through last year and the way this place was, yes, I think we probably would have taken that.
“I also think the whole Ipswich Town fan base, the people connected with the club the way it was, I think everyone would have taken it.
“Because we had such a great start things are a little bit tinged with disappointment at the moment – and rightly so. We can’t be getting beaten 4-1 at home by one of our promotion rivals.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s three points and things can turn around so quickly, so we can’t get too disappointed. We can’t get too excited when things are going well either.
"It’s about achieving the consistency we need between now and the end of the season to meet our ambition.”
Teams who come down from the second tier automatically carry a burden of expectation and nobody knows that better than tomorrow’s opponents, Sunderland, who finished bottom of the Premier League and the Championship in successive seasons to find themselves in League One last term.
The Black Cats were strong favourites to win the title and only lost five games – Town have suffered seven defeats so far in the current campaign – but a surplus of draws saw them finish fifth before going on to lose in the play-off final at Wembley to Charlton Athletic.
Sunderland are in the promotion mix again this season, last week’s 2-0 loss at Portsmouth their first in 10 league games, and their fans are anxious that last season’s near-miss, which played a part in manager Jack Ross making way for Phil Parkinson in October, is not repeated.
Chambers added: “It doesn’t matter which team you are, the moment you start to do well the pressure and the expectation automatically builds, and then it transfers through from the stands on to the pitch.
“It’s about how you handle it. We handled the first 15 games of this season to transform the mindset of the club, the team and everyone around it, fantastically well, and we’ve almost got to go back and recapture that all over again if we’re going to produce what we need to get back to where we want to be.
“Sunderland are under a lot of pressure because of the size of the club. Whether or not they have the players for it, or if we have the players for it, remains to be seen. It’s all about the situation we are in and whether we can handle it and see it through.
“Can we handle it and would we have taken this position when we started out back in August? I think the answer’s got to be yes. We are still in such a good position.
“I know we have said it before but we responded from the first of January and found ourselves at the top of the league. There’s no reason why, within the next week or so, we can’t be back in that position again.
“We’ve got to keep things realistic. Every game is three points, so if you can take as many of them as possible and not lose too many it’s simple maths.
“We need to produce the performances we produced earlier in January and carry them into the next 15 games through to the end of the season.”
Town suffered a serious setback in losing to rivals Rotherham and Peterborough within the space of four days last week and Chambers reflected: “I felt we had turned the corner but I thought Rotherham outplayed us and deserved to win, although we could still have got something out of that game. That’s how close the margins are in this league.
“We gave Peterborough a 2-0 head start so we were chasing the game and got hit by sucker punches. A big part of it was self-inflicted. First 20 minutes we started well and then, all of a sudden, bang, it’s a penalty and we’re behind. Then we gave a silly second goal away and you’re thinking ‘How did that happen?’ But it’s not panic stations and I didn’t think it was a 4-1 game.
“When you sit down and try to see where things have gone wrong it’s easy to say we were crap, we were s***, we got battered. But I don’t think that was the story of the game.
“We were two-nil down against a free-scoring team and that was always going to be a mountain to climb.
“It’s who we are, the fan base we have, our history. Teams are fired up at Portman Road and it’s a difficult enough task before you start giving goals away to make their job so much easier.”
Chambers had plenty of sympathy for on-loan Wolves keeper Will Norris, whose error in being dispossessed by Sammie Szmodics for the visitors’ second goal proved so costly and meant Town had a near-impossible task thereafter.
He said: “That sort of thing is part and parcel of football. I spoke to him and reminded him that in the 1-1 home draw with Sunderland at the start of the season I was the one who made the mistake that cost us two points.
“There’s always a risk of something like that happening, especially if you play at the back, and if you’re a goalie, well, a mistake is usually followed by a goal.
“Will is big enough and his personality is more than strong enough for that to bounce off him.
“He knows he should have cleared the ball so there’s no reason why anyone should go up to him and say ‘You should have done this, you should have done that’. It’s glaringly obvious.
“He has done really, really well when he’s played and he’s a tremendous part of this squad who will be needed between now and the end of the season.
“You have to put these things behind you or they eat away at your confidence and you can never again be the same player that you were when you were playing well.”
Looking to the future, Chambers added: “The way I see it, we are now starting a 15-game season. Everyone has raised their game against us so far and it’s up to us to raise our game against everyone else now.
“We still have a fantastic opportunity and we should be thriving on the pressure, regardless of what league we are in.
“It is a chance for us to earn our place in the history of the club. We had the negative side of it last season and we should be striving to turn it into a positive this year.”
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