|Charlton Athletic 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 7th December 2021 Kick-off 19:45
McGreal: Nowhere Near Good Enough
Tuesday, 7th Dec 2021 23:21
Interim manager John McGreal admitted the Blues were “nowhere near good enough” as they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Charlton at the Valley.
McGreal, in charge for the first time following Paul Cook’s sacking on Saturday, agreed it was a hard night for Town having spent a lengthy period talking to the players in the dressing room before appearing in front of the media.
“It was. I thought we were in the game for 20 minutes and then there just seemed to be a bit of a period where you could sense it going after 20 minutes and obviously they scored the goal,” he reflected. “For me it looked onside, but someone’s saying it was a little bit tight.
“But for 10 or 15 minutes after that, we just lost our way a little bit. Couldn’t get the first pass away, couldn’t really control the ball as we’d like, there was a little bit of a fear factor.
“But then I thought we just got it back a little just before half-time and I thought ‘OK, at least we’re still in the game’.
“But in the second half we were literally our own worst enemy. I think we were in possession, there was a turnover and just a simple ball puts them clean through. That’s been our achilles’ heel at times, especially tonight anyway.”
Confidence an issue? A hangover from the weekend’s events? “Obviously confidence is a bit of an issue at the moment. You don’t need for me to tell you that. But again it’s our job to pick it up.
“Training was bubbly. Again, today the warm-up was very good, they’re saying the right things, the energy levels seemed to be there, the performance was there but it’s nowhere near long enough, nowhere near good enough to carry us through to get something out of the game. Charlton were well worthy winners.”
George Edmundson spoke to the media after the game and said the players were honest during the lengthy dressing room chat after the match. Is that something McGreal welcomes?
“I do, but the proof’s in the pudding,” he continued. “I’ve been there before. Defeats, I’ve said to the guys, some of them have played at different levels, higher levels and I’m sure in their career to date they’ve had a massive dip in their form.
“But now to be playing for Ipswich, they’ve obviously had a massive high to come and play for Ipswich, so now we’ve got to get those boys back to that high again because there are some good players in there.
“It’s now just getting that confidence, trying to instil a bit of belief and just energise them. That’s what we’ve got to try and do, energise the team.”
How much can he do? “I’ll try my best at doing anything. I’m in for a couple of games, see where that goes and then obviously we’ll see when the new manager’s going to happen.
“My remit is literally to come in, try and energise the lads, try and get a couple of good results. It hasn’t worked tonight but we’ve got to go again. Simple as at football, you win some, you lose some.
“They’re on a bit of a low at the moment but we’ve got to go again, there’s nothing else to do. That’s what football’s about, especially in our league leading up into the Christmas period, they’re coming thick and fast.”
At the whistle Toto Nsiala was involved in a confrontation with angry supporters at the front of the stand with Christian Walton, who was acting as peace-maker, then shoved by a supporter, who as a result was led away by the police.
Asked about the incident, McGreal said: “The fans have come in their thousands and we’ve got to put performances on the pitch. It’s two weeks before Christmas, they’re putting their hands in the pocket, they’re coming in their thousands. I know as a player, especially the away fans, they come every single away game.
“Come Saturday at Wigan, there will be thousands there again. We, as a team, we’ve got to be performing better, a lot better because emotions are high at the moment with the manager going and a couple of results haven’t gone the right way. So we’ll try and rectify that for the fans.”
Asked to clarify his view of the incident, he added: “I don’t know. I sent the lads over, I always do with the fans. They pay their money to come. I sent the lads to clap the fans and that’s all I know to date.”
Town can’t spend too long licking their wounds with a visit to Wigan on Saturday, then an FA Cup trip to Barrow, before Sunderland are at Portman Road.
“You’ve just got to go again, you’ve got to go again,” he said. “You’ve got to stand up tall, get your shoulders back, get your chest out and go again because the games are not going to wait for anyone. The games are there, the fixtures are there, so you’ve just got to take it on the chin and move on.”
Is it about personality? “Absolutely. Character, a lot of character. But, as I say, if you go through individuals in there and one of the main attributes you pick would be character. Now the character’s getting tested. Let’s see what they’ve got come Saturday.”
The frustrations shown at the end weren’t just relating to today’s result or recent events at the club but two decades of underachievement at Portman Road.
“I’ve been in the door for a couple of days,” McGreall continued. “My remit was literally to put a team on the pitch. Try and get a couple of results as the interim manager. What’s gone on in the past, I haven’t been privy to that at all.
“I live in the area but I haven’t been privy to that, but with the fans, whatever type of fan, the Charlton fans get this place rocking at the minute because they’re in a good bit of form. We’ve got to try and get to that stage ourselves.”
Is he going to have the players in for work on the training field tomorrow with little time between now and the Wigan match.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves,” he added. “There’s a little bit of a chat going on in there. Obviously, the travelling that we’ve got at the moment is quite a lot. What we’ll do, we’ll assess with the staff we’ve got and we’ll come to a decision on that.”
McGreal has so far had little time to work with the squad: “Monday, an hour or two and then we travelled. We got a lot into them, a lot of prep into them, how we want to try and do things.
“And, as I say, for 20-odd minutes I thought we were OK. I thought we were well in the game, but just that confidence when the first goal goes in. You see it up and down the country, teams that are a little bit low on confidence have got to drag themselves up and we’ll be there to try and help them. That’s our remit to try and lift the lads.”
Charlton caretaker-boss Johnnie Jackson has shown what can be done from a tough position. Something McGreal would hope to emulate? “He’s doing a brilliant job. I think he’s still only interim, isn’t he? He’s got them playing a certain way, a high energy team and some quality players throughout.
“And players that are in form. That’s how he’s done it. We’re trying to do that ourselves because we’ve got another tough fixture come Saturday.”
Jackson was delighted with his side's display, which he says is as good as any they have put in since he was put in temporary charge in October.
“That’s probably the best performance yet – obviously I’ll have to watch it back to make that assessment properly,” he told South London Press.
“It’s hard, just after the game when the emotions are still pumping and the adrenaline is high, but we were completely dominant in the game. I was wondering how we aren’t further ahead before we get the second.
“At 1-0 you’re only a lucky deflection, a ricochet or them creating something – because they’ve got good players – away from perhaps it going 1-1.
“I’d have been really, really disappointed with that for my players because they wouldn’t have deserved it for the shift and performance they put in. I’d have been devastated for them.”
He added: “We’re improving all the time. We play to Conor [Washington]’s strengths, we know what his movement is like. Jayden’s physicality and Conor’s ability to run on the top line is something we could utilise even more.
“It was a great finish from Gilbs [Alex Gilbey]. I’m delighted for him because he has been outstanding for me.”
Regarding whether he will be offered the job on a permanent basis, he said: “It’s a question for Mr Sandgaard, isn’t it? You probably don’t believe me when I keep saying it, but we are in positive discussions.
“I’m hopeful we can get it sorted soon. Performances like that are only going to help.”
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