Chambers: Not Acceptable For This Club
Sunday, 24th Jan 2021 10:41
Frustrated skipper Luke Chambers admits Town’s current position is “not acceptable for this club” and that the Blues, beaten 1-0 at home by Peterborough yesterday, have to start beating the division’s better sides if they are to be promotion contenders this season.
The loss to Posh, the Blues’ fifth home defeat in six, saw them drop to ninth in the table, two points off the play-offs but now 10 from the automatic promotion spots.
Asked what he made of Saturday’s game, settled by Mark McGuinness’s 69th-minute own goal, Chambers said: “It was a tough result to take, I think we played with a bit more intensity this week. The lads were certainly trying to press, certainly trying to implement the game plan.
“But we’re still leaving ourselves a mountain to climb a little bit, we’re missing chances, we’re giving chances away, so it’s a tough one. What do I say? It’s not good enough. Not good enough.”
What are the missing chances at one end and giving opportunities away at the other down to? “When you’re out on the pitch it’s just decision-making, you’ve got to make the right decisions at the right time.
“Listen, the goal, any centre-half playing there that’s happened to them before, so we can’t be starting to point fingers at anyone.
“It’s a tough one for Mark to take, he’s learning the game still, a young player. But those things are going against us at the minute.
“We’ve had chances at the end today, we probably haven’t created loads throughout the season, so when those come along we’ve got to make the difference.”
Town have beaten only two teams currently in the top 10, Accrington and Crewe earlier in the campaign when the Railwaymen were well down the table, while losing eight games against sides at the division's top end. Last season they won only twice against teams who finished among the 10 above them.
“If we want to be promotion contenders ourselves that’s the minimum requirement,” Chambers added when asked whether Town need to get that monkey off their back.
“We gave ourselves a decent enough platform, we got away with the penalty miss but I felt we played a little bit further up the pitch, we were higher as a defensive unit and we were able to get some pressure on them, so they didn’t cause loads of issues.
“But we’ve got to find a way to beat those better teams, the teams that are higher up the league if we want to be challenging at that top end.”
Is there a danger of there being a mental block when up against the top sides? “Whatever you guys talk about really. At the end of the day, it’s another game and another three points. You have to try and beat whatever’s in front of you. We find ourselves still in a good position in the league. We’ve got games in hand, we can still achieve something this season.
“I’m talking here with a lot of frustration but that happens half an hour after the game’s finished. It’s not all doom and gloom, we’ve got players coming back fit, we’ve got a lot more options, I think we’ve got a lot more legs in the team the last couple of weeks, which have shown more in our pressing and our defensive play.
“But we can’t just keep losing out in the fine details in games, that’s what we’re doing at the minute.”
Town are going into a period where games and opportunities to pick up points will quickly with no let-up.
“Every game’s an opportunity at the minute and we have to take it,” the 35-year-old added. “Games are coming thick and fast so there’s no point in dwelling on things, we have to put it right.
“I stand here as a footballer, I’ve been doing it for a long time now and what do you say? It’s not good enough to be beaten 1-0 at home against one of your promotion rivals when it was a game we could have taken something from.
“The games will come thick and fast now, we can whinge about it all the time but Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday is what you are as a footballer. You need to be ready, we need to prepare properly as players and be ready for the challenge on Tuesday again.”
The former Nottingham Forest and Northampton man continued: “It’s frustrating, look where we are. It’s not acceptable for this club, so I’m very frustrated but we have to keep going.
“We’ve got a game Tuesday [at home to Sunderland], like I said before, what do you say? You’ve got to keep spirits high in the dressing room, that’s what I keep trying to do for the boys, I put my arm around Mark at the end there just to say ‘Look, we’ve got another game on Tuesday, it’s not all your fault, you can’t put it on you because there’s a lot more to your life than football’.
“It eats away at the team at the minute, I’m going home Saturday night to see my wife and my kids and that won’t leave my mind, I won’t be a good person to be around for the next couple of days but you have to suck it up.
“There’s another game Tuesday and if selected we need to be ready to play and put in a performance because at the minute, when it counts we’re a bit short.”
Quizzed on whether spirits are keeping up in the dressing room, he said: “You have to, what can you do? We are living in unprecedented times and what are we going to do, let everything consume us, all the negativity, even if you don’t ready all the stuff, you can still feel the stuff that’s going on.
“But the boys have to keep going. As a footballer, you’re lucky that you have another game, but if you don’t perform over a long period of time, you won’t be playing at that level, that’s football.
“You have to be mentally strong and I think we’ve got to bounce back as a group and we’ll look to do that Saturday-Tuesday.
“All I can do here is talk about the game and how it went and how the situation is, a lot of frustration but I think we were a lot better on the front foot today, stopped them playing a lot more than we have against teams who seemed to have a lot more of the game than they should do, especially at home.
“I felt that was a positive we could definitely build on, as a said earlier, we had quite a few chances and we have to really score those.”
Is he concerned by the recent home form? “It had been good up until the last few weeks. We had a good start at home, that’s two [defeats] in a row.
“There are no fans here obviously but it’s still our patch. I don’t think we let them come here and cause us massive issues today, so that’s a positive but it’s very hard to talk immediately after a game when you’ve lost 1-0 in a game from which you think you probably should have got a bit more out of.”
Chambers says the returns of the likes of Teddy Bishop, Gwion Edwards and Flynn Downes after injury is another positive, as well as new recruits Josh Harrop, currently out having tested positive for Covid-19, and Luke Thomas, who made his debut as a sub against Posh.
“Exactly, they’ve been a miss but we’ve still had a big enough squad to really have a go at things,” he said. “I think we were lacking in a striker today. Obviously it was a big ask for Aaron [Drinan] who hasn’t played lots of minutes over recent weeks, it’s a tough gig for him up there on his own.
“We need the players back, we need them staying fit, it’s no good people just coming back for one game, it’s a tough ask. It’s going to be even more intense now, so we can’t wrap anyone up in cotton wool, you’ve got to be ready.
“It’s as simple as that, you’ve got to put your body on the line for this football club or there’s no point in you even being here.”
Striker trio James Norwood, Kayden Jackson and Oli Hawkins were all missing, the former two due to minor niggles and the ex-Portsmouth man as he has to undergo a knee operation.
Chambers says those players create a hole but he says that can’t keep being an excuse: “We’re missing some players, but what are we going to do, talk about that forever?
“What can you do about it? You can’t do anything about it, you’ve got to get on with it, there’s games. We’re not stopping games, we’ve got to play so it doesn’t really matter who is available we have to put the shirt on and produce, simple as that, everyone.
“We have to do that on Tuesday night, regardless of whether it’s on the TV, down the park, at the training ground, it’s here, it’s our home, there’s no fans, there’s no pressure, just go out there and try and play. That’s all it is, a bit of freedom of thought and just going out there and having to give your all.
“I think the lads do give their all in every game, you can’t question their commitment, you can’t question their endeavour, they’re trying their nuts off, it’s just not working out for us at the minute.”
Personally, he says he’s ready to play Saturday-Tuesday having operated in his less-favoured right-back role all season so far.
“Nothing changes for me, I’ll be available for my team-mates, for the club,” he said. “If I’m picked I’ll be ready to play, trying to do my bit.
“I’m a member of the team, I’m trying to motivate the boys and keep everyone going but at the end of the day we have to put in a team performance, one to 11, and the boys off the bench, we can make a lot of subs as well, so it’s definitely going to be a squad game over the next few weeks. But I’m ready to play as and when.”
Regarding new signings Harrop and Thomas, he said: “It just sums our luck at the minute, Josh getting diagnosed with Covid. They’ve looked sharp, they’re Championship level players, so they’re adding quality to the squad. It’s just a shame we couldn’t see Josh out here today because he made a real impact in his first session.
“He’s probably not played as much as he’d like to but Preston had a really good season last year and they’re up at the top end of the table, so to get a player of that quality, it’s going to make a big difference. However, we’re going to miss him for a few games now. We can’t keep looking at what’s not available, you’ve got to look at what is available.”
Looking ahead to Sunderland’s visit on Tuesday, Chambers is looking forward to it and to putting Saturday’s frustrations behind him.
“Yes, again, we’ve got to be ready to go,” he said. “What can you do? You can’t sit and sulk about it. There’s no one more frustrated about the situation than me, and the players themselves, so we have to stand up and be counted.
“What more do you say? These games are coming thick and fast and you can’t keep letting opportunities pass you by.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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