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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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Woolfenthen added 11:01 - Feb 17
Yep like you all did last night

Gilesy added 11:02 - Feb 17
Heard it so many times! Meaningless waffle - not Harrop's fault of course. What else can he say, but it's just noise.

belgablue added 11:02 - Feb 17
It’s times like these when the manager and owner must be replaced.

BlueWax added 11:04 - Feb 17
For consecutive seasons we have made flying starts and then fell away drastically.
Can anyone give some light into why this is?
It just seems like groundhog day bringing players out saying the same old story.
People are worried about PL mental health...well how about the mental health of our long suffering fans?!

phillev added 11:05 - Feb 17
If we are going to have to have a player come out with the usual sounbites can it please not be a loanee!

LWNR2013 added 11:05 - Feb 17
How do you replace the owner?

LWNR2013 added 11:06 - Feb 17
Send loanees back. They don’t need this.

crossyitfc added 11:14 - Feb 17
Stop talking

Kropotkin123 added 11:18 - Feb 17

DifferentGravy added 11:19 - Feb 17
Of course players have to take their share of responsibility...they are the ones on the pitch.

But, irrespective of the noises being made by the latest player to be pushed out in front of the camera(a new loanee no less), they are clearly not 100% behind the manager.....and why on earth would you be!? Constant rotation, negative tactics, out of position, dropped when you play well etc etc

You can huff n puff all you like.....but if the tactics/formation/results of the manager are failing over a sustained period of time.....it becomes increasingly difficult to buy into the ethos....and ultimately you lose respect and desire to play for said manager.

Purely based on the pitch.......Lambert has to go. These players are far from world beaters......but they are better than this.

Im flabbergasted that Lambert lined up with 1 up front against second from bottom. A team that had scored 1 goal in 9 games......and then.....with 19 minutes left.....finally brings on our best forward but remains with 1 up top.............in a game we simply should be winning. How could you NOT feel frustrated playing for a manager who does that!?!?

Is it because Lambert is so completely inept/clueless OR is he simply trying to force the owners hand for a big payoff.....OR both.

Pencilpete added 11:24 - Feb 17
I'm not going to slag the lad off because he's been with us 5 minutes and played 2 games but we've pretty much heard every other player in the squad come out with the same drivel over the last 2 years and we are all still waiting for it to actually happen.

The last time we had 6 loanees here was the dying embros of Paul Jewells reign, it was a sign for desperation then and it's a sign of desperation now.

The fact we have to loan reserves off the likes of Barnsley and Preston in the first place is utterly embarrasing and a sign of how far we have fallen.

The only reason i can assume Paul Lambert still has a job this morning is because Marcus Evans has decided to have a lie in OR he's currently working out the severence pay anything other than that is disgrace.

maybe Phil who runs the site could knock up a template basically saying "Please cancel my direct debit, i am not making another payment to ITFC until Paul Lambert is no longer the manager" we could all print it off, addd our personals and post it to the club ... maybe a couple of thousand envelopes coming through the door losing them a $hit load of money will make them understand ?

Chris_Knights added 11:29 - Feb 17
Dear Josh

Please go and disrespect the fans by giving them meaningless comments that they’ve been hearing for the last 13 years. Oh and don’t forget .... Tell them we played really really well

Paul Lambert

Farmerpiles added 11:33 - Feb 17
How many times do players come out with this stuff. They must sit there and pray Towns PR staff dont point the finger at them as the next pasty to front up and spout the same waffle the fans have heard a hundred times before.

hadleighboyblue added 11:35 - Feb 17
I've seen more effort in the Sunday morning League .

Yes PL and his management team are hopeless , but the players performance last night was unacceptable .....talk is cheap , do your talking on the pitch , that's what you are paid to do .

Lightningboy added 11:37 - Feb 17
Why are we developing Preston & Barnsley’s players when League 1 should’ve been the perfect situation to give experience to the likes of El Mizouni,Dobra,McGavin,Baghott,Ndaba,Simpson etc etc etc....?

The answer - because our coaching staff are incapable of getting performances out of a really decent squad at this level.

Our owner is now burying his head in the sand - no doubt he’ll pull it out again when it’s season ticket renewal time by which point yet another year at this club will have been wasted.


Wickets added 11:38 - Feb 17
No movement in the final third ! pretty much sums up our season .

Radlett_blue added 11:43 - Feb 17
"When we had the ball the play was quite slow". Exactly - we could all see that. Why doesn't the manager or the captain do something about it?

wewerefamous added 11:47 - Feb 17
I’m not going to knock the lad but they may as well just keep playing a recording on loop. I’m so bored of hearing the same thing over and over again. The only person we want to hear from is Marcus Evans explaining what the hell is going on.

PortmanTerrorist added 11:54 - Feb 17
Feel for the lad, but wonder if he and Matheson routinely slowed things down and kept passing back/sideways at their former Clubs. Did not seem that way on few glimpses we saw if these 2 before last night.....but get them training a few days with our lads and the malaise sets in! As have said before, players now need to just stop talking.

MonkeyAlan added 12:07 - Feb 17
A different player saying the same cr@p after every match. But none of you ever step up! Evans you muppet.

BlueandTruesince82 added 13:11 - Feb 17
Ah here it is... "it can't/won't happen again" how many times have we heard that this season.

How many times has it happened.

Do us a favour, take a min. Sign this, you know you want to


BluedanW added 13:39 - Feb 17
Bore off!
Had enough of players telling us they need to do better, action not words is needed.
I'd rather they didn't bother with these interviews as tslk is cheap.

Carberry added 13:41 - Feb 17
So the protest had no effect on the players, that blows a hole through PR Paul's excuses.

LimerickTractorBoy added 13:58 - Feb 17
Excellent post Lightningboy... so true.

AlanG296 added 16:20 - Feb 17
Not a criticism of Harrup, who's just parroting the usual clichés they must coach into players from a young age, but shouldn't players "step up and take responsibility" every game they play? Isn't that what a true professional in any walk of life does day in, day out?

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