Penney: We Should Be Able to Beat Anybody in This League
Tuesday, 28th Sep 2021 06:00
Town new boy Matt Penney believes the Blues are capable of beating any side in League One – even if the current table, in which they occupy a place in the drop zone, suggests otherwise.
Rock-bottom Doncaster Rovers are the visitors to Portman Road this evening and few, if any, supporters will be satisfied with anything less than victory as manager Paul Cook and his players go in search of their first home win of the season.
Richie Wellens’s team looked as if they might drag themselves away from the foot of the table at the weekend when they led 1-0 at Plymouth midway through the second half but the home side equalised and then snatched all the points when ex-Town loanee Conor Grant converted a last-gasp penalty.
Rovers’ only win this term was 10 days ago when they defeated Morecambe 1-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium and they are still seeking their first away point after losing all five games on the road, scoring just twice and conceding nine goals.
Penney said: “With the standard of players we have in our dressing room we should be able to beat anybody in this league. It doesn’t change anybody’s mindset that we are playing the team at the bottom because we approach every game wanting to win and this will be no different. The only thing on our mind going into the Doncaster game is that we want the three points.”
Asked if the league table was a concern at the moment, with 38 fixtures yet to fulfil, the defender replied: “We have had a lot changes and brought 19 new signings into the club so it might be closer to Christmas before we start looking at the table and where we are.
“At the moment it’s just about performances and getting points on the board. Pre-Christmas we’ll have a proper look at the table and start concentrating on that.”
Penney is a likely starter after coming into the side at the weekend for the injured Hayden Coulson, when he was in the strange position of having family and friends in both the home and away sections of the crowd, which was the biggest at Portman Road so far this season.
He explained: “My family have been down to a few games, particularly my little brother. He was down at the weekend with some mates and I had mates who are Wednesday fans there as well.
“They were in with the away fans and I could actually hear them during the game. I found it so funny in the first half when I was on their side of the pitch and it gave me a real buzz.
“The others were in with the home crowd and I met up with them all afterwards so it was a good laugh.”
Penney believes the presence of new signing Samy Morsy, eligible after completing the three-game suspension that accompanied him from Middlesbrough last month, will provide Town with a welcome boost and it is likely that the Egyptian international midfielder will also take over the captain’s armband.
He said: “I’ve played against Samy a couple of times in the Championship and he’s a great player. He’s a great lad as well and he would make a difference to any team so we’re lucky to have him.
“He’s a great competitor and I’m grateful he’s going to be kicking other players and not me, that’s for sure!”
Penney has started half of Town’s eight league games this season and featured off the bench in another two. It is largely a consequence of injuries, plus Cook’s varied team selections, that not one single player boasts an ever-present record, while goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky and midfield pair Lee Evans and Scott Fraser lead the way having all missed out once.
Delighted that he made the switch to Portman Road in July after turning down a new deal at Hillsborough, Penney also has a spell in Bundesliga 2 on his CV after he spent the whole of the 2019/20 season on loan at St Pauli and even scored in their biggest game, the local derby against Hamburg, to help his team to a 2-0 win.
He added: “Basically, it was the old Sheffield Wednesday manager, Jos Luhukay, who got me out to Germany. He was head coach of St Pauli and he rang that summer and said he would like to take me on loan for a season. He told me it was a great opportunity, that I would play regularly and that I would love it.
“I had always said to my family and friends that I would love to go abroad for a spell, not just to experience a different way of football but to sample the culture of the place.
“So when the opportunity came along I went with it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. It was really, really good and it’s the highlight so far.
“I learned so much and at the age of only 21 it was a phenomenal experience for me. I knew zero German when I went out there but after a difficult couple of months I started taking German lessons and I was soon able to get by.
“That was all part of the experience and I soon began to understand what was being said in the team meetings.
“Would I do it again? Absolutely, I would and it’s always a possibility in football. I think it would be easier for a single guy, rather than someone who is married and has children, to move abroad.
“That was why I bit the bullet and went out to Germany. I didn’t have any baggage – it was just me and a willingness to go to a foreign country and learn how they did things differently.
“I had never been to Germany previously and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I found Hamburg a beautiful city and really enjoyed my time there. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any young players who get the chance that I had.
“The football is less physical than it is in England and I think it is easier for young players to break through to the first team over there.”
Penney also explained how he had changed his position over the years, adding: “I started as a left winger and I played there right through to when I was 18. I filled in at left-back and left wing-back for a few games and it kind of stuck.
“I’m still operating down the left side but these days I’m regarded as a full-back or a wing-back and when I’m playing my relationship with the player ahead of me is hugely important.
“Scotty [Fraser] has been in that position alongside me on a few occasions and we are good mates off the pitch as well. I think it shows on the pitch when you have a good connection with a teammate off it – on the same wavelength you could say – and I do enjoy playing alongside Scotty.
“But I’ve played with Bersant [Celina] and Kyle [Edwards] as well and they are also great players.
“Partnerships and team chemistry are massive in today’s game. It is developing all the time and I think you could see positive signs of that in our recent games. I’m sure it will continue to get better right across the side in all the key areas.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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