Skuse: Pressure Isn't the Issue
Thursday, 13th Feb 2020 16:16
Town vice-captain Cole Skuse has dismissed the notion that the recent run of results – just one point from the last four fixtures – can be attributed to the fact that some players are cracking under the pressure.
The Blues have seen their promotion challenge falter to the extent that they have dropped out of the top six and now trail leaders Rotherham, who also have a game in hand, by seven points.
With second-placed Peterborough six points better off, it looks as if Paul Lambert’s men have a huge task to grab one of the two automatic promotion places.
Even qualifying for the play-offs could prove to be beyond them unless they dramatically improve their recent form, starting on Saturday when Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion are the visitors to Portman Road.
But experienced midfielder Skuse, who spent Thursday afternoon at a adult disability football session to help promote Community Trust Day on Saturday, is adamant the problem has nothing to do with players being unable to cope with the pressure.
Skuse, 33, said: “Pressure isn’t the issue. It’s not as if you would walk into our dressing room, take a look around and think ‘He looks like he’s under a lot of pressure’.
“It’s not something you can easily gauge but we’re a confident group of players when we get out on the pitch.
“You wouldn’t say players are hiding away from the expectation and pressure. We’re still being bold and brave, and trying to win games.
“We still have 13 left to play and that’s a large chunk of fixtures and a lot of points at stake. But don’t get me wrong, we are not hiding away from the fact that we have not been on a great run recently.
“With the obvious exception of AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, we have been playing against teams in and around us in the table and not picking up any points.
“It has not been an ideal run of results, we know that, but we’re not at the point of absolute panic stations, crisis etc. We know we need to be better than we have been of late but there is still time this season to cement things and achieve what we want to achieve.”
Town were the early-season league leaders, remaining unbeaten in their opening 11 fixtures and taking a very creditable 27 points from the 33 available.
But they have struggled to recapture that form and have only triumphed on five occasions in 20 league games, claiming just 22 of the 60 points on offer.
Skuse added: “When we started the season as we did, turning around the mentality from last season when we finished bottom and were relegated, it was fantastic.
“But to not really bounce on from the position we were in, with points on the board and games in hand, has been really disappointing. But, like I said, there is still a chunk of the season to play for.
“But I know we can’t keep saying that. It has to start now and by that I mean against Burton on Saturday.
“We went to Wimbledon on Tuesday and we dominated large spells of the game, but it was without winning so we came away disappointed with a draw. So we need to put together a run of results and it needs to start straight away.”
Asked if the squad was good enough and if people were over-estimating its overall strength by talking about it as being the strongest in League One, Skuse responded: “We have proven, with the start we had to the season, that we have a strong squad.
“It’s not as if we have had a real thrashing by anyone, although I accept people will point to Peterborough’s 4-1 win at Portman Road.
“It may have looked like it was a slapping but, on reflection, it wasn’t a 4-1 game. It was very much a case of goals changing games but there are no teams in this division who have gone away and said they have absolutely battered Ipswich. That’s simply not the case.
“Are we good enough to get out of this league? Is the squad good enough? I’m not just saying this for the sake of it, but in my opinion it certainly is good enough. But that only adds to the frustration.
“When I look around the training ground on a day-to-day basis, and the dressing room after a game, it makes it all the more frustrating to be coming away from games thinking ‘We should have won that game. We shouldn’t have conceded four goals. We should be winning these games’.
“I got promoted from this level many moons ago with Bristol City and if you look at the current Ipswich squad it contains several players who have promotions to their name.
“You try to draw on your experience, the little percentages that can be added to the big percentages to get you out of the league.
“It won’t just be me or the older players, it will be everyone adding their bit between now and the end of the season.”
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