Roberts: I’m Really Excited For Next Season
Sunday, 9th May 2021 15:04
First-team coach Gary Roberts is really looking forward to next season following a summer of hard work.
Roberts, 37, took the post-match press conference after the Blues’ 3-1 home victory over Fleetwood at Portman Road and was delighted that Town were able to find the net on three occasions having netted in only one of their previous eight matches.
“It’s been our achilles, we haven’t scored enough, we knew that,” Roberts said. “But at Portman Road, we’ve started quickly, apart from the Wimbledon game we’ve started really quickly and we wanted to maintain that and once you’re getting goals like that the game’s done.
“The second half is always going to be a little bit fiddly. They came out, changed their formation, made a change and that made it a little bit more difficult.
“But I thought they were brilliant today, the boys. Started on the front foot, worked their socks off and we’ve come away more than happy.”
Roberts says there had been positive signs in the previous two matches, the 2-1 win at Swindon and then the 0-0 draw at Shrewsbury.
“Definitely,” he said. “We possibly could have scored more goals at Swindon, definitely at Shrewsbury and today to get three goals is nice, it’s pleasing.
“It’s been a little bit painful in front of goal for us, but today we got three and we’re more than happy.”
Is that work at Playford Road paying off? “With this shape you can put players in positions to cause damage. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. We haven’t had much luck in front of goal and you need luck, luck is big in the game.
“You try and put players in positions to hurt teams and we haven’t really gone on and killed teams or punished teams like we should. But today we did, we blew them away and I think we deserved to win the game.”
He added: “There was a lot of energy in the team. I thought Troy Parrott was brilliant today, worked well with James Norwood, a bit of a partnership going there, just a little bit too late because he goes back [to Tottenham]. I think all the forward lads, even young Dobra, they were a breath of fresh air today.”
Town’s season might have been different had Norwood, who took his tally to 10 for the campaign with the opener this afternoon, been fit for more of the campaign.
“He’s a good striker, he’s scored goals all his life,” Roberts continued. “He’s had a couple of niggles here and there. If we can clear them up he’ll be a big player for us.”
Skipper Luke Chambers may well have made his last appearance for the club and it was noticeable that all the team went towards him at the end and gave him a hug.
Quizzed on whether Chambers will be moving on, the player himself having hinted as much on Instagram after the match, Roberts said: “There are going to be meetings tomorrow. The players will sit down with the manager and they’ll discuss that. It’s not for me to say.”
Reflecting on Chambers. he added: “He’s an unbelievable player. I look at him, I’m a couple of years older than him and the body on him compared mine is something different. I don’t know what they’ve been eating down here.
“He’s a terrific player, a really good lad and he’s been brilliant for this club. He did well today, played really well today.”
Despite a summer in which there will be big changes to the squad, Roberts says there are players already at the club who will have a part to play.
“The squad’s big, the squad’s really big,” he said. “There’s quality in it. As the new manager’s come in, he’ll be wanting his own players and we want to improve this club.
“There’s a little bit of a buzz going around the town now. I’ve been here, I got a feel for the place, I know it a little bit.
“We’ve come in and we didn’t get to where we want to be. Next season we’ll have a right go and hopefully bring some faces in who get the fans off their seats.”
Roberts was a winger with the Blues between 2006 and 2008. Asked what it was like to be back, he said: “It would have been nice to win a few more games. At Portman Road, it’s always been one of my favourite stadiums, even when I played here. It’s a cracking stadium, absolutely brilliant.
“It’s a lot more painful on the other side than being on the grass, but I love being back here. The club’s brilliant. There are some exceptional people here who were here when I was here and it’s just nice to be back.”
How has he found the transition from player to coach? “The hours are a lot longer! You don’t get many hours off with this manager. I’m normally on a couch at one o’clock but I’m still in the office at seven. There’s a lot of work to be done, I’m enjoying it. If we can get success I’ll be more than happy.”
The Liverpudlian says it’s a great opportunity for him: “I retired [from playing] to do this job and to leave my career behind it had to be a for a club like this and an opportunity like this. I was thankful to the manager for giving me a chance.
“To come here, a club I’ve been at, the stature of the club as well, there’s a load of work to do but I’m more than happy to be here.
“I haven’t had a summer for a couple of years now and this one will be a bit shorter, there’s work to be done, work’s on the way and there’ll be more work to continue.”
Roberts says he will spend some of his summer working on his coaching badges: “I’ve got some to do, some more to finish so there won’t be many days off.
“I’ll be in Belfast at some point [working on his badges]. I’ll be about doing other work for recruitment and stuff. It’ll be a busy summer, probably not on the beach.”
Roberts has been living with boss Cook since they came to the club, which he says is very much a football-centric existence.
“We spend 23 hours a day together. It’s football, we both love football,” he said. “I’ve known the manager for a long time. When you come home from work at seven o’clock at night, you talk football until nine o’clock before you go to bed. You wake up at six, you talk football again. You can imagine, a week off football talk would be nice.
“But it’s been brilliant, it’s a big education with me. I learn every single day what the manager’s job is. People want to manage, you think it’s an easy job and let me tell you it’s not. I’ve seen that first-hand now.
“I’ve only been here for a couple of months but it’s a tough job. It’s been a real learning curve and I’m really enjoying it.”
Roberts has previously worked for Cook as a player at Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Wigan. He says it’s not really been a surprise that he’s kept being recruited given the success they have enjoyed with those sides.
“The clubs we’ve been at we’ve had success, so you expect a call,” he said. “If you’re successful someone you normally stick together.
“Paul’s been with Leam Richardson [his assistant at his previous three clubs] and they’ve had big success over the years, hopefully that can continue with me him by his side helping him every step I can.”
Looking ahead to next season, he added: “Hopefully we can just entertain the fans. Every team he’s managed has been a team on the front foot, who pass the ball, who get after teams.
“I think you’ve seen it in glimpses today. You’ve seen it at Swindon and Shrewsbury, but we need to be a fit team, we need to be a really fit team, which we will be.
“And get good players. We’ve got some good players at the club at the minute, no disrespect, and the players that are coming in, we want them to get fans off their seats, that will be the plan.
“I’m excited, I’m really excited for next season. It’s going to be a tough summer but football’s in a bit of a muddle in the summer with everything, but I’m really looking forward to next season.”
He says celebrating a promotion in a year’s time is what he is aiming for: “Yes, that would be nice.”
Fleetwood boss Simon Grayson felt his side showed a reaction to their slow start in which they allowed the Blues to go into a two-goal lead.
“We paid a heavy price for the sloppy start, without a doubt,” he said.
“To be two-down so quickly wasn’t good enough and then conceding a third gave us a mountain to climb.
“We actually had some good chances in the first half and it could have been 3-3 or 4-3.
“Every time Ipswich went forward they were ruthless and finished their chances, but we couldn’t do that and gifted them.
“In the second half we asked for a reaction from the players and I felt we got that.
“I said at half-time that it was about pride and producing a professional performance.
“Whether these boys are going to be playing for our football club or not next season, they were playing for their own futures.
“Someone may have been watching them today and thought ‘I don’t really fancy taking him now’ when perhaps they did before.
“That personal pride shouldn’t come from me, as manager. It has to come from within and we kept a clean sheet and had good opportunities in the second half, in addition to our goal.
“We’ve actually been very good apart from our last two away games, which isn’t what we want.
“Apart from that it’s something like seven clean sheets in nine games.”
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