Judge: I Think It’s Just That Bit of Confidence
Tuesday, 6th Apr 2021 13:37
Midfielder Alan Judge believes a lack of confidence is behind the Blues’ recent under par form and knows they have to show much more going forward than they did in yesterday’s dour 0-0 draw away against bottom club Rochdale.
In the eight games since new manager Paul Cook took charge, Town have won only twice, have drawn three and lost three.
Reflecting on the 0-0 draw at Dale, Judge said: “Stalemate, to be honest with you. I don’t think either team had much quality going forward.
“I think it was just one of those games. If you were here you could see the conditions weren’t the greatest but that’s not really an excuse, it wasn’t good enough going forward from either team.”
Judge came closest to scoring for the Blues when his first-half shot flew narrowly wide: “I thought it was going in and then it just moved away at the last minute. I think that sums it up, one shot is not good enough, is it?”
Town are 20th in a goals scored League One table having netted only 41 times this season and the 32-year-old says it’s something Cook is trying to address on the training field.
“The gaffer’s implementing a few different things and we’re trying to get them into the game, find the pockets here and there,” he said.
“But sometimes you just have to play to the conditions and we would have wanted to get it down a bit more today but the conditions [had an impact on] the game, but we need to be better going forward.”
Having defeated second-bottom Bristol Rovers 2-1 on Good Friday, Judge admits that not beating bottom side Rochdale was a missed opportunity to build some momentum.
“Yes, exactly,” he said. “I thought we were going to nick it at the end there with Josh [Harrop] when it just sat up on him and the lad’s made a great tackle at the last gasp.
“But we’re unbeaten [over Easter], we drew here today, we won our last game, we walk on to the next game and we still believe we can do it, there’s eight games left.”
Reflecting on the overall picture, just over a month after new boss Cook replaced Paul Lambert, he said: “We’re implementing the gaffer’s style, it’s taking a bit of time. The gaffer’s worked out he probably doesn’t have certain personnel he wants to play his way, which we’ve heard him say.
“But he knows we’re giving him everything and he knows he’s got an honest bunch of lads in there.”
Is that difficult to do at this stage of the season? “Players have to adapt, we have to adapt and, as I said, the manager’s has a certain way of playing and we have to adapt to it. He’ll soon find out who he can trust and who he can’t.”
The Dubliner insists the players are up to the job in hand but are lacking self-belief at the present time.
“I think it’s just our confidence, you know, believing,” he said. “We are good players, I think it’s just that bit of belief.
“We’ve taken a bit of stick and I think probably rightly so in certain things but we’ve been hit and hit and hit but we believe we are good enough.
“I think it’s just that bit of confidence, to take the ball on the run, not to be afraid to break the lines, play passes into the forward players, stuff like that. Confidence is massive.”
He added: “I think maybe we’re a bit tentative. We’ve got brave players, we definitely have brave players but sometimes we’re just a bit tentative. Not looking for someone else to do it but we’ve got to start taking that responsibility, all of us, not just one player, all of us.”
Cook said after yesterday’s game that if Town continue to pick up two points a game, as they have over Easter, then that ought to be good enough to keep them in the hunt. Judge concurs.
“As the manager says that’s two points every game you’re racking up,” he said. “So we just crack on to the next game. We’ve got two fixtures, big ones, MK and then Wimbledon, and we go from there. You pick up four points there and you never know where that leaves you.
“I’m not sure what way the games in hand are at the minute but we don’t want to be running out of games either.
“MK and then Wimbledon on the Tuesday, hopefully we’ll pick up four to six points and that will be great.”
Are the players keeping a close eye on the table with the Blues eighth, three points from the top six following Monday’s match.
“It’s hard not to be table watching, let’s be honest,” he added. “But we still believe it. I know the fans aren’t happy with what they see sometimes but these aren’t easy places to come. These teams, they’re grafting to stay in the league.
“I think the main thing as well was we didn’t lose it, we didn’t go gung-ho, the manager was pretty adamant about that, that we don’t lose the game when it comes to the last 10 minutes. Not what we wanted, but we’ll go on to the next game.”
Does the team believe they can make the play-offs? “Yes, we do, certainly, especially when you come away. I know Rochdale are at the bottom and we’ve come away with a point but it’s not an easy place to come.
“We’ve just got to keep believing, keep going and hopefully, the football is getting better, it wasn’t great today but I think even in the Bristol Rovers game there were signs of it. The manager wants to play a high press with high intensity and we want to get that.”
In terms of his own game, he says he likes the role he’s played over the last couple of games, to some degree a number 10 but with other responsibilities.
“With the way we’re setting up at the moment it’s covering eight, 11, 10 positions, but I don’t mind it,” he said. “The gaffer wants to get me inside more and then out of possession to get back in and get in front of Wardy [Stephen Ward] .
“There’s a lot to do work-wise, but I don’t mind that and I think he knows that I’m that type of lad.”
Judge has scored four goals this season, only top scorer James Norwood, seven, and Gwion Edwards and Jon Nolan, five, have netted more. The nine-times-capped Republic of Ireland international says he can grab more and new boss Cook is encouraging him to get into positions where he can do so.
“The manager’s got me into a lot more better positions to get me higher up the pitch,” he said. “I don’t have to come deep for it really. I’m getting more shots off and he wants me to have more shots and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“I maybe should have scored against Plymouth when I got the pull-back from Kayden but the thing is I’m getting in those positions now.”
Norwood is currently out with a thigh problem and Judge says the Blues have been unfortunate with injuries to their front players throughout the season.
“I think we’ve been pretty unlucky up front with how our front boys have been picking up injuries here, there and everywhere, a bit unlucky for them,” he continued.
“Nors has been unlucky, Kayden’s had his injury problems, hopefully they’ve gone, Oli’s had his, they’re gone, Aaron’s come back, so we’re hoping they’ll be the last [injury problems they’ll have]. Troy’s been away for the last 10 days [with Ireland] so it’s good to get him back.”
The Blues have been much better at the back with only four League One sides having conceded fewer than 38 they’ve shipped this season. Yesterday’s clean sheet was their 15th of the season, the joint-fourth best in the division, with three having come since Cook took over.
“One thing is that if we’re not scoring, we don’t give many away and we could have nicked it at the end possibly with Josh, he was unlucky, he didn’t see the lad come back,” Judge said.
“It’s hard because we’re giving everything we can but we know we can be better and that’s the frustrating thing for us at the moment.”
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