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Ward: Everyone's Disappointed, the Lads Are Hurting in There
Wednesday, 25th Nov 2020 11:42

Left-back Stephen Ward felt Hull City’s greater ruthlessness was the difference between the sides during Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to the League One leaders at Portman Road. Ward says everyone in the dressing room was hurting after the game and knows they need to play better and react when Charlton visit Portman Road on Saturday.

Mallik Wilks put the visitors in front in the second minute, Josh Magennis made it two in first-half injury time and sub Tom Eaves made it three with 13 minutes left to end Town’s home league 100 per cent record.

“They came with a game plan. I don’t think the score reflects the game went in terms of what we did on the ball and the positions we got in,” the 35-year-old said after the match.

“But at this level when you’re going to win a league, you’ve got to take your chances, you’ve got to be ruthless in both boxes.

“That’s probably the difference tonight, they were a bit more streetwise than us, we were just not as ruthless as maybe we could have been. And that’s the disappointing thing.”

The former Republic of Ireland international agreed it’s a lesson he and his colleagues need to learn quickly.

“One hundred per cent, we know that as a team,” he added. “We’re very pleasing on the eye, we play good football, we can dominate games. Like I said, it’s just getting that little bit more of a ruthless streak in us.

“From everyone, not just the front lads. Up front, at the back, throughout the midfield, we’ve got to be a bit stronger because when we have the ball, you can see in most games, we can dominate for long periods.

“On the turnover maybe we just need to be a little bit more ruthless in getting the ball back and getting back into our shape and making ourselves a bit more difficult.

“But listen, we’ve not been like that all season. We haven’t conceded many goals like that, we’ve been quite resilient, quite solid.

“But when we’re playing a team that’s up there, you maybe need to have that little bit more ruthlessness that we didn’t have tonight.”

No one needs reminding that the Blues are still to beat only Accrington of the teams in the top 10 this season, having defeated only Fleetwood and Gillingham, both 1-0 away, of the 10 teams that finished above them in the last campaign.

In addition to Hull, Town have lost at Doncaster, 4-1, Lincoln, 1-0, and Sunderland, 2-1 so far this season.

But Ward insists the Blues are capable of taking three points from one of their fellow challengers.

“Of course we can,” he said. “If you look at all three of those games, I don’t think we were outplayed or overawed in any of the games. Like I said, maybe there is that stigma that we can’t [beat the top teams] but of course we believe we can, we just maybe have to learn from the games where we’ve not won.

“Credit to Hull, they had a good away performance, but you wouldn’t say they came and outplayed us or out-footballed us but they were just more ruthless and that’s the bit that we need to get into our game.

“From last year, the lads have said the same, we maybe struggled against the top six. It’s something we need to work on.

“Starting Saturday we need to show against a decent Charlton team, who are going to be up there, we need to bounce back, we need to reflect on what we didn’t do right in the games we have lost because in a lot of the other games we’ve done well.

“But those games, we have to have a look at ourselves and look at how we approach them and how we turn the record around and get a result against one of these teams.”

Following the Addicks’ visit, the Blues have away trips to Oxford and Plymouth but Ward dismissed the suggestion that that makes Saturday’s match an even bigger fixture.

“Every game’s big,” he insisted. “If you’ve got aspirations of getting promoted, every game’s a massive game, no matter who you’re playing.

“The three points against Shrewsbury is the same as three points against Hull, against Portsmouth. It’s important we react.

“When you lose a game it’s massive that you show character that bottle that you can come back and get a result after it, and that’s what we need to do. We’ll recover and we’ll get ready to go again.”

Asked what it was like in the dressing room, the Dubliner said: “Everyone’s disappointed, we’ve got what we needed to say off our chests after the performance. And we move on, we learn from it, we’ve got a lot of good young players in that dressing room, a lot of lads will strive to go on in their careers, there's real talent in there. Anything we can do or any little pointers [we can give].

“There’s no pointing fingers, we’re in it as a collective and that’s the most important thing. And as a team we know the performance tonight at times was really good, but there were a lot of areas, especially in both boxes, that we can do better.

“The more the younger lads learn, and we’re still learning as senior pros, you’ve got to pull it all together and that starts Saturday again.”

Quizzed on whether it was an open forum with everyone getting their say, not just the more senior players, he added: “We’re all in it together, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 19, 20, 30, 31, 32, we’re in it as a team, everyone’s striving for the same thing. Everyone wants this club to get promoted.

“So, whether you’re playing well, you’re not playing well, you’ve had a good game, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got an opinion, you say it and everyone takes it on board.

“And that’s the way it should be at a club because, like I said, we want to get promoted so if there’s anything to be said, it’ll be said and then you move on and you go again. We reflect and we go again and we show our character on Saturday.”

Reflecting on the current injury situation with Jon Nolan (groin), Gwion Edwards (hamstring), James Wilson (knee), Teddy Bishop Ankle), Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes (both knee) all sidelined at present, and with Freddie Sears having suffered a hamstring injury last night, Ward said: “That’s been tough, it’s not an excuse but it has been tough, we’ve lost a lot of key players, even as far back as Cole and Flynn.

“We’ve lost a lot of key players, we’ve got players coming back now, Nors [James Norwood] I thought was really good tonight, looked really sharp, looked back to himself. We’ve got Aaron Drinan coming back, Kane Vincent-Young’s not too far away hopefully.

“Listen, losing Teddy and Nolo for this game was a big blow at the weekend, but we’ve got a strong enough squad, that’s not an excuse, that’s something that every team is going to have to contend with this season, especially with games coming thick and fast.”

Does he believe the young players in the squad are mentally tough enough for a League One promotion battle?

“They’ll have to be,” he responded. “They’re learning on the job, so any experience that they have, I’m sure they’ll all take something from tonight’s game.

“I feel that we’ve got a really mentally strong group, a good mix of youth and experience and, like I said, they’re learning. A defeat like that, as a player you reflect on it and it can only make you stronger and I’m sure that will be the case for a lot of us tonight.”

Looking ahead to December and the return of up to 4,000 fans to Portman Road for the visit of Portsmouth, Ward believes that will give the Blues a boost.

“Brilliant, yes, Fingers crossed,” he said. “We’ve missed the fans in here. I’ve obviously not played in front of anyone, even family members being able to come to the games. It’s been tough with your family not being able to come and cheer you on and support you.

“So that’ll be a real lift and I’m sure whatever numbers we can get in here, they’ll be loud and they’ll get behind the team because we’ve missed them and you need them in your home games, especially games like tonight. You do miss them.”

Ward is aware that there is negativity among the support, particularly after Tuesday’s result, but accepts that that comes with the territory and he hopes fans will stay behind their side.

“Listen, that’s the nature of playing for a big club, and we are a big club in this division,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we will give it our best to get promoted, we will work as hard as we can and having the fans behind us will be an extra man for us really.

“I would hope they’ll stay with us as long as possible. We know we need to play better and react but let me tell you the lads are hurting in there tonight and we want it as much as anyone.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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ITFCsince67 added 14:30 - Nov 25
You have look like like and play like you want create chances to be ruthless.

planetblue_2011 added 14:31 - Nov 25
So you should be it’s just not good enough!!
It’s been like this for years now, every fan has surely had enough.
I certainly have!!

runningout added 14:38 - Nov 25
We have been a joke of a club for a long time. It may seem easy to say, but it’s blooming true. Restructure is needed now not tomorrow

CraigEdwards added 14:41 - Nov 25
Performance related pay for me.
The only one that would have got paid was the one we gave away.

MickMillsTash added 14:47 - Nov 25
They way we are playing, full backs do not have to defend, Garbutt would have been better at least he can run.

Bert added 14:47 - Nov 25
“We are pleasing to the eye”. Really ? Yes, we can play a decent passing game occasionally but this slow build from the back with no product is not making me feel at all entertained or happy. I’m a glass half full chap but if Lambert steadfastly refuses to acknowledge a plan B is necessary he will lose even the most loyal supporters.

norfolkbluey added 14:54 - Nov 25
This performance just reflects the last six years of PL's managerial results. If we keep him as the manager he will eventually see the club disappear down the swanny. We have a large squad of players so injuries shouldn't be a problem. It's down to the manager. There seems little hope of us beating teams in the top six or seven and that is not promotion performance. The constant disappointing performances is corrosive for the fans and undermines confidence in the team. We have amazing statistics and still lose! That is down to a lack of guile in the box and confidence in the players. We need a manager who kicks butt when players underperform. Not like sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army saying 'well you did awfully well but never mind losing because they had a game plan'! Bobby Robson had big bust ups in the changing rooms when he was manager. This club needs a shake up and a cut in wages if they underperform. I wouldn't pay a pound to watch this dross because even when we win the performances are 'iffy'. I thought McCarthy was dreadful towards the end but now I'm wondering if I was wrong!
The players are hurting, what about the manager; he should be saying sorry about my inept strategies against average teams and an even bigger sorry to the supporters. Playing as we are we would be torn apart in the Championship. Things have to change soon or there will be even less than 4000 supporters left to come back. Frustration Rules. Sad days. COYB!

DifferentGravy added 14:57 - Nov 25
I dont really have a problem with Ward being rolled out to say his bit. Hes done well for us this season. Gets done for speed on occasion but hes never been blessed with pace. If we were more attack minded he could just sit in the back line and talk the game from there.

Injuries/poor performances aside......for me it has more to do with the tactics....and that fault lies with Lambert. Players out of position(Freddy/Jackson), players looking confused/uncomfortable in their role(Huws/Lancaster) or players not contributing (Judge). If we didnt have enough fit midfielders to fulfil a 4-5-1 then we should have reverted to another formation.....we had more than enough forwards on the bench, Even if Lambert feels we dont play well using a 4-4-2 on a regular doesnt mean you should just dismiss a formation entirely. We didnt even attempt ANY kind of tactical or formational change. What would it have mattered if we took a more direct approach for 20 minutes, played 3 /4 forwards up top, yet lost 0-4!?!? At least we would have tried an alternative. Its about problem solving. Not banging your head against a brick wall.......or in our case.....passing the ball endlessly around the back four until we finally create one perfect seamless attack the entire game.....or eventually a player makes a mistake.


multiplescoregasms added 15:05 - Nov 25
Really don't believe any of the rubbish the players/staff come out with anymore. Oh bless, are they hurting? Well pull your finger out of your ars* and start playing like footballers. What the hell are you lot doing during the week? Seriously, some of you should just go now, and that includes the 1st team staff. Facts......strikers who don't score........lightweight midfield with no one taking charge........several players way beyond their use by date.......a constant stream of injuries for what reason? Oh, and when Nolan goes on about Norwoods superb acrobatic goal in training, why the f*ck are they doing stuff like that in training? Are they that stupid? The club is rotten, and we will lose the few assets we have in the very near future if we do not change things now. Time to go Lambert.

Kesblue66 added 15:06 - Nov 25
What a load of cobblers.They are not hurting half as much as us.

BettyBlue added 15:34 - Nov 25
Wardy, you will lose on Saturday. Fact.

And do you realize you can't just keep saying we will do better next game.
That sh*t has got us into League Div 1.

None of you have the ablity to turn it around.

You proved it last night. QED.

Now crawl under a stone until you're contract is cancelled in March

SickParrot added 15:38 - Nov 25
Blah, blah, blah. Heard it all before but nothing changes. If the players and management are hurting did they cry all the way to the bank?

ChrisR added 16:15 - Nov 25
Nine Games , 6 defeats , lucky to win those 3 against Gills , Crewe and Shrewsbury , looked 2nd best in those games .Team is spiralling downwards just like last year , no fight , no desire ! PL can not inspire or motivate the squad .
He does not sound bothered either way , that's when you can make out what he is saying! Just go please !

WhoisJimmyJuan added 16:15 - Nov 25
Vanmunt, agree but we already have disappeared into irrelevance under this owner/manager/player disinterested combo

dirtydingusmagee added 16:28 - Nov 25
wish i hadnt read that, its left me in tears.Those poor players.

dirtydingusmagee added 16:38 - Nov 25
we have an owner with no ambition,a manager with no idea, a team with no guts or passion i think our position in Lge 1 at present is a bit flattering and the true picture is yet to come. Wheeling out players with sob stories and excuses no longer cuts it, it has become a tiresome routine,for far too long .Lets be honest even our ''best'' players are hard pushed to put two games together with what it takes.

BettyBlue added 16:41 - Nov 25
You know the saying with Lamberty,

8th in November, 14th at the end of the season.

(He hasn't finished above 14th in the last 12 years in any league.)

superdicksy added 16:41 - Nov 25
I think the COVID 19 pandemic saved lambert last year with no fans being in the ground
It was very toxic in there
Think his time is up now
once a budgie always a budgie
Plenty of good managers available

BettyBlue added 16:43 - Nov 25
Perhaps we could let Wardy take Judges role.

That way his nose could play up front with Norwood.

SingBlue added 17:14 - Nov 25
The interesting comment from Ward there was how players from last season said to him, when he arrived, that we struggle against the top teams. This is clearly ingrained in their minds and we are beaten before we step on the pitch and Lambert doesn’t seem to have the influence to effect this.

spanishblue added 17:17 - Nov 25
A few years ago I swore I wouldn’t set foot in the ground while MM was playing crap football,nothing has changed apart from it’s got worse, I’m retired haven’t kicked a football in38 years my Ball skills and passing is better than our defense, doesanybody actually know what to do as a team unit, after 2 years I’m of the opinion it’s come in you who’s played this that and other rubbish your time is up, the year after next we’ll be in the conference or whatever it’s called

EatonBlue added 17:25 - Nov 25
What annoys me most is that the Shrewsbury game should have been a wake up call. As was the case last season, other teams have worked out how to deal with our system. There has to be a Plan B and Plan C plus the management skills to put those into effect.

Bluroo added 17:28 - Nov 25
We’re being duped by the manager and now the players. 60% possession by tapping it around at the back in your own half is not “dominating games”. That would be 60% possession mostly in the opponents half ripping them apart which we are NOT doing!!! Frankly keeping the ball in none threatening areas whilst 1-0 down suited Hull! Lambert and Ward are just deluded if they think there wasn’t much between the teams. Hull created 6 clear chances we created none.

NorthFar added 18:41 - Nov 25
Like a broken record.

Linkboy13 added 19:02 - Nov 25
Time for a different strategy i would like to see a foreign manager appointed we've tried young managers, experienced managers it hasn't worked. I think if we appoint a foreign manager they normally bring good players from abroad who don't cost the earth. Wagner at Huddersfield took them from bottom of the championship to promotion to the premier league, and then there's Farke at Narwich he's done ok. Let's face it most of the successful managers are foreign.

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