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Aluko: We Can Handle Expectation
Saturday, 25th Jun 2022 18:38

Sone Aluko believes it is only right that he and his colleagues will carry a weight of expectancy into the new season, bookmakers and fans alike having confidence in Town as promotion contenders in what will be their fourth successive season in League One.

Rather than seeing it as a burden to the players, 33-year-old Aluko explained: “Of course expectations are going to be high and so they should be for a club of this size.

“We have a good squad and we’re fully aware of what we want to do. We played some good football last season but we finished in 11th place and that’s not where we want to be.

“Our points tally wasn’t bad, to be honest, but in the new season we want to push to be right up there at the top and we believe we can. No one is hiding from the expectation that we should get promoted.

“I’m well aware of that, the manager’s well aware of that and the squad are well aware of that and we look forward to the challenge.

“If you can’t handle that you shouldn’t be at any club because no matter where you play your football there's some expectation.

“No club is wants [players to think], 'Oh, we're going to get relegated this year'.

“Even if you're at the bottom you want to fight to stay in the league so that's an expectation in itself.

“If you want to be a footballer, if you want to be paid good money, if you want to earn a good living, you've got to deal with the pressure otherwise you might as well just go and play five-a-side. That’s the nature of the game and we can handle it.”


Aluko was talking after today’s visit to neighbours Needham Market, where manager Kieran McKenna fielded two different line-ups in each of the two 30-minute halves, clocking up an impressive 7-0 win after leading by a solitary goal in the opening period.

The much-travelled winger, who can also operate in a role behind the front men, said: “It was good. I enjoyed it and it’s always good to get back out there after a tough first week’s training.

“I thought we gave a good account of ourselves and I thought they did as well to be fair, especially when you consider they have not done a lot of pre-season work.

“I spoke to one of their directors and he said they had only done a couple of sessions before today, so to come out and play the way they did in the first half was very impressive. They look like a good team.

“The pitch was good but you usually find the grass is a bit longer in pre-season and that makes it a bit more difficult to run with the ball, but for a non-league side they should be very proud of themselves.

“We got the minutes in, got the hard work in and we were happy with the result in the end. Pre-season doesn’t get any easier – I think this is the 16th of my career – but it’s something we have to do and we have to find a way to get through it and enjoy it, and make sure we put the work in.

“You need to enjoy the fact that it’s uncomfortable at times because you know the advantages will come later in the season.

“Games like this are a way back into it and to get us focused, and getting your mentality right in terms of preparing for games. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re in a very privileged position doing what we do but every time we’re on the pitch we have to give our all.

“We press hard, we run hard and we’ll reap the benefits of our pre-season programme when we start the season at home to Bolton at the end of next month. We won’t be taking it easy in any of our pre-season games and I think we showed that today.”

It was a first chance in eight weeks, since Town ended last season with a 4-0 home thrashing of Charlton Athletic, for supporters to see the team in action and the travelling contingent quickly snapped up tickets to ensure a capacity Bloomfields crowd.

Aluko added: “Since I’ve been here the support has been incredible and we can already feel they are really behind us and excited about things going forward. It’s been a good day and I enjoyed the fact that the crowd were so close to us.

“Another big positive was that some of the new lads got some minutes under their belt, which is all part of the settling-in process, and they all looked good.”

When it was suggested there seemed to be plenty of positivity in the Town camp, Aluko elaborated: “We feel the club is going in the right direction and we have a strong squad with a good manager and good coaching staff.

“Everything is very positive and we just have to make sure we get the work done out on the pitch.”

Seasoned midfielder Dominic Ball, signed on a free transfer following his release by QPR, donned the Town colours for the first time and Aluko added: “I think Dom will be a great addition to the squad and the dressing room but I think all the new players will add something in their own way, although they will need time to settle in and get to know how we play.

“Dom knew the manager before and also a couple of the players, so that will help. Freddie [Ladapo] will be another senior player and I think we have a good mix in the squad between experience and youth.

“The young lads who have come into the squad look as if they have bright futures in the game and they just need to keep working hard to continue their progress. Cam [Humphreys] has looked really strong since we returned for pre-season training – he’s such a fantastic runner that he’s always going to stand out – and Tommy [Hughes] was good when he played in the second half today.

“Tawanda ([Chirewa] as well, he looked good, and all these lads know what they have to do to get games, they have to push, and pre-season is obviously a great opportunity for them to do that.”

Following another week at Playford Road, McKenna will be taking his players to Loughborough University as they step up their pre-season preparations and Aluko continued: “That’s going to be a tough week but it will be worth it when we get to the first game of the season. I missed most of last year’s pre-season because I came in late so I couldn’t comment on how this year’s programme compares.

“But the fact that I’m having pre-season here will definitely benefit me and I can already feel that I’m going to have a better start to the season than I did last year.

“It took me a while to get into my full stride when I signed last August so I made sure I came back for pre-season training in good shape and I’m expecting it to pay off for me by hitting the ground running.

“I can see it being a very different start for me this time. I’ll be setting myself a few targets for the new season but I’m not telling anyone else what they are.”


Photos: TWTD/PagePix



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BossMan added 18:55 - Jun 25
Whoever decided to bring Aluko in showed how us fans can act like split brats sometimes if not every signing is a headliner. He battles more like a DM than a winger or AMC and the Portman Road crowd recognised that. More of the same this season please.
13

ButchersBrokenNose added 19:11 - Jun 25
I really don't put a lot of stock in what bookies say. As much as I'd love us to win the league, I don't see it happening. MK Dons (who I thought were a better side than Wigan and Sunderland) are still here, we'll have to play a very good Derby team (who shouldn't have been relegated), and then there's always a dark horse who did poorly last season but will challenge for a play-off place this year. Never mind the seven other teams who finished above us, who will also be looking to get promoted. I like what Aluko is saying, and I think he's up for it. I'd much rather hear this than the self-entitled rubbish about being a big club we've been spoon-fed since we were relegated. A very tough season awaits.
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AlanG296 added 19:14 - Jun 25
Great positive comments on the expectation and "right up there at the top and we believe we can". Nothing ambiguous about that.
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Hipsterectomy added 19:23 - Jun 25
Aluko has to be one of the most intelligent players out there who clearly loves the game. He must be such a great influence to have around.
16

Kuqishitsonpukki added 19:41 - Jun 25
@ButchersBrokenNose - Derby will be lucky not to get relegated at this rate, they will be similar to Bolton a few years ago getting spanked most weeks, it’s a shame we don’t play them early on. I agree though that it won’t be easy, although we know that now!! Shef Weds are the ones making the big transfer moves and putting a big target on their head. Maybe it’s our season to sneak under the radar a bit, where the occasion of playing ITFC has become normalised for regular L1 clubs and so we can just get on with it! We will have to overcome the rubbish time wasting antics of many clubs though and we need a plan to beat them if we are to be successful..let’s believe our good times are just around the corner 🔵⚪️
11

blues1 added 19:57 - Jun 25
Butchersbrokennose. Of course it's gonna be tough. And no doubt we'll have a dodgy spell or 2. But why you think, atcthid moment in time, derby will be particularly good, when they only have 5 registered players right now, I dont know. They have a lot of work to do just to get a squad together, and with their future yet 100% clear, who knows what kind of team theyll be able to put out.
5

AlanG296 added 20:42 - Jun 25
What we the fans think about the challenge of the new season, or the strength of other teams does not matter. It's what the players, manager and coaches think that matters. Promotion is not won by the best players but is won by the best team(s). They need to believe that they are good enough to compete at the top as any club in the division. Respect every opponent but don't fear them. Promotion must be the goal, not some wishy washy top 6 finish. Mental strength will be crucial. And it's up to KM and his crew to ensure that the players deliver.
8

timkatieadamitfc added 21:56 - Jun 25
Anything other than promotion either auto/play offs will be an abject failure( considering players brought in from a higher league- chaplain, Morsey, Walton, edmundson, Edwards and aluko) imo.
Just hope McKenna is going to chose a settled team this season and stick with it,didn’t concede many and looked strong at back last season because (barring injuries/suspension) it was same players week in week out pretty much. The same cannot be said about midfield and forward with a different set of players virtually every game - aluko was the one, remember him having an absolute blinder in one game getting mom and then not playing for another 4/5 games.
And ffs 2 up top please
3

timkatieadamitfc added 23:41 - Jun 25
Sorry alang296 meant to mark up not down
1

Monkey_Blue added 08:55 - Jun 26
More than happy to say I thought signing him was a complete waste of time. Not only was he a plus on the pitch he’s an extremely impressive guy all around. I recall the EADT guys also didn’t see the point. Ashton has admitted the signing process was scatter gun… But this guy has been good value.
3

Barty added 19:23 - Jun 26
Personally I think we will go up as champions
2

timkatieadamitfc added 21:15 - Jun 26
👍let’s all hope you are right Barty
2

Bazza8564 added 08:01 - Jun 27
A couple of things strike me on comments above, we will be stronger this year because we have the resources to retain our core, lengthen their contracts and recruit. The ones who have gone are our choice not tempted away.
Other clubs like MK will struggle to hold on to talent simply because they don’t have that strength, did I read yesterday twine has gone?
Derby will struggle and I agree about the Bolton 2020 comment above. The takeover won’t go through quickly enough to stop the vultures picking off the good players, palace have announced a deal to sign one, and there will be others. I wouldn’t rule us out either from a move for someone like Lawrence.
So as much as there were sides that challenged last season still in the division, they all have to balance the books and sides like Bolton, who rebuilt last season and in January in particular, will probably be just as much of a threat.
Saying all that, we should be as strong as anybody…..
1

Karlosfandangal added 09:36 - Jun 27
McKenna will be gone if we don’t make the play offs, I can’t see the board letting another season go by with a mid table finish.

Bobby Robson had 3 poor season and we all know how that panned out.

McKenna won’t have the same luxury of time as Mr Robson did.

I think we will be in the Play Offs at least.
But as above have said MK Don Shef We’d Peterborough Barnsley Bolton we’re doing well at the end, a tough league indeed
1

Rimsy added 12:46 - Jun 27
Top pro is Aluko. We'll be champions this season, don't get the negativity from some. With KM at the helm we'll get off to a flyer. Last season was thrown away early on by Cook and his bizarre non tactics.
2

bingboast added 19:26 - Jun 28
16,000 season tickets sold, some people are optomistic, with a Canary like butchersbrokennose who needs enemies?What an ars..ole.
0


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