Harrop: It’s Times Like This When Players Have to Step Up and Take Responsibility
Wednesday, 17th Feb 2021 10:57
Josh Harrop says it’s at times like now that players have to step up and take responsibility, the on-loan Preston midfielder having made his full debut in last night’s disappointing 0-0 home draw with Northampton.
Harrop, 25, who joined the Blues on loan from the Lilywhites last month, played the first 59 minutes as Town toiled against the lowly Cobblers.
“It was a tough game, we didn’t really get any rhythm in the game in terms of movement in the final third,” Harrop said.
“We found it hard to break them down. When we had the ball the play was quite slow, which made it a hard night for us and they counter-attacked on us quite well.”
Why was that? “I think it was just making the right runs and movement in the final third, we were even a bit sloppy in possession sometimes. When we could have just played the easy pass, moved it and kept the ball ticking, I felt like we forced it a little bit sometimes.”
Asked whether there were harsh words in the dressing room either at half-time or full-time, the Stockport-born schemer said: “People have a word in the dressing room but nothing too bad, it was just more that we need to stick together now and push.
“It’s a point at the end of the day, we want to go into games like that and win them, but it’s a point so we’ve got to move on from this one.”
Does he feel for under-fire manager Paul Lambert? “He’s an experienced gaffer, he’ll be able to take that. But we’ve got to perform on the pitch, he puts a team out there and we’re the ones who have got to go and do it.”
Harrop dismissed the suggestion that the players had let their manager down: “I wouldn’t say we let him down, I think it was just a hard game. We put a shift in, we tried but it was just the final end product, the movement, we weren’t clinical enough.
“I think Nors [James Norwood] had a chance at the end which was unlucky, it was good movement but in the first half I think everything was a bit slow, the play was a bit slow and we never really got going.”
Harrop joined Town on January 20th but has had to wait to make his full debut, in part due to his lack of match fitness but also having tested positive for Covid-19 and been forced to self-isolate for 10 days.
He made sub appearances Blackpool and Peterborough and would have started at Shrewsbury on Saturday.
“It’s been a few months now without starting a game,” the former Manchester United youngster reflected. “I’m happy to get back in a starting XI and get minutes in my legs.
“I want to crack on from now, I’ve got that start out of the way which has been a long time coming. I’ve got corona and everything else out of the way, so for me I want to look forward now.
“I was set to start in [the Shrewsbury] game and it was off, so that was another setback, but I’ve got out there tonight, I’ve got 60 minutes in my legs and I feel fine.”
He says he’s ready to go again on Saturday if selected: “Definitely. There’s no rest now until the end of the season, it’s game, game, game, Saturday-Tuesday, so we’ve always got to be ready, we’ve got to go out there, we’ve got to put bigger performances in.
“It’s times like this when players have got to step up, they’ve got to take that responsibility on themselves to make things happen in games and hopefully with a bit more match sharpness I’ll be able to do that.”
Harrop believes there is the required spirit in the squad: “There are some big characters in the group and we’ve got to step up, we’ve got to push up that table. It’s all about getting points at this time of the year.
“Sometimes it’s not about performances, it’s about getting the points and winning games and I think we’ve got to manage games in terms of being able to do that.
“It’s not always about playing pretty football, you’ve got to do the hard stuff to get results and it’ll come. It’s just a matter of putting the effort in on the training pitch and getting out there and doing it again.”
He added: “It’s a tight squad, everyone’s got each other’s back. It’s just a matter of getting on a run. A bit of luck, sometimes you need a bit of luck in football.
“At the minute things might not be falling our way, chances might not be going in, but it’ll come, there are enough games for it to come as well, it only takes us to get on a run to push on.
“There are games on hand on some teams in the league, so it we get a couple of wins we’ll push up.”
He admits that last night’s game was a missed opportunity to push on towards the play-offs, although the draw did reduce the margin to four points with the Blues moving back up to 11th.
“It’s a point, we’ve got a point, but you want to go into games like that and take all three points and push,” he said.
“But games come thick and fast now, we’ve got to keep our heads up and we’ve got to keep going.”
Harrop was disappointed not to be able to try his luck at goal from a set piece: “There was none around the edge of the box, I was dying for one to be around the edge of the box but more just deeper crosses and corners. But they’ll come as well.”
The former England U20 international knows goals have to come from throughout the side: “Definitely, myself as a player I like to chip in with goals, I like to get assists and push on, but that comes with fitness and the more I play I’ll get that and I’ll get sharper in front of goal to take my chances.”
Asked about Monday’s Blue Action protest at the training ground and resultant small fire, Harrop played down its impact on the squad.
“Stuff like that happens in football, fans are fans, but we don’t let that affect us,” he said. “We’re a tight squad, everyone together, the gaffer, the staff, the players, everyone’s got each other’s backs, so stuff like that doesn’t really affect us.”
Can incidents such as that make a squad tighter? “It can. We don’t really speak about it, it was just one of those things that happened and we cracked on. No one was bothered, it was more focusing on the game ahead, focusing on what we’ve got to do ourselves to perform.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, Harrop knows that the visit of in-form Oxford is a big test for the Blues, but he says he relishes that.
“That’s what you want, you want to play against the teams who are in form, you want to show what you’re about,” he said.
“And I think it’s that time now, that time we’ve got to do that, we’ve got to step up, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do on the pitch to get results.
“I trust the lads, I’ve only known them a month or two, but I trust them to go out there and put everything into the games.”
The U’s are up to seventh having lost just once in their last 13 in the league, including a run of seven successive league victories, nine in all competitions.
Harrop says the Blues need impetus of that type themselves and believes there are enough games left for Town to get themselves back in the running.
“We just need that bit of luck in front of goal, one of those chances to go in and to get that momentum to kick on,” he insisted. “There are enough games left to play so there’s no saying we can’t push up.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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