Chaplin: They're Big, Important Signings For Us
Friday, 2nd Feb 2024 16:27
Having bolstered their squad with four new faces in the January transfer window, Town will be hoping the move pays off in the same way that a similar recruitment policy this time last year saw them end the season by winning promotion from League One.
After midfield pair Jeremy Sarmiento and Lewis Travis arrived on loan from Brighton and Blackburn respectively early last month, the Blues have also signed striker Ali Al-Hamadi on a permanent deal from Wimbledon and Kieffer Moore has returned to Portman Road, this time on loan from Bournemouth.
All four are set to be in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to face Preston North End and when top scorer Conor Chaplin was asked earlier today for his views on the new strike duo, he replied: “Today was their first day training together with us and they are big, important signings for us. They are both good additions to the squad, profile-wise, and they are both really nice lads as well.
“I’ve had a couple of days more with Ali than I have with Kieffer this week but I know Kieffer from being at Barnsley with him for a short time. He’s a great guy and Ali is a lovely lad too. They are two welcome additions.
“Kieffer and I were only together for a couple of weeks at Barnsley because I signed in the summer and Kieffer was finalising his move to Wigan at the time.
“We trained together but, if I’m right, I think we maybe only played one pre-season game together. We didn’t have much time together at all and it was more off the pitch [that we got to know one another].
“Ali has had a really good 18 months and scored a lot of goals, plus a lot of assists. He’s been really impressive and a standout performer in that league, so he is definitely ready for a step-up that he will also see as an exciting challenge. We’ll all be trying to help him with that.
“Physically, he’s in great shape and capable of competing at this level for sure. We don’t have to say too much about Kieffer because his career speaks for itself – the competitions he’s played in and the levels he’s played at, along with the goals he has scored at both domestic and international levels. It’s all there for people to see.”
Asked about his reaction to activity in the transfer market, Chaplin admitted: “We really don’t know too much more than the fans in the way of intel.
“It’s exciting for everyone when the transfer windows come round. I like to sit in front of the telly and see what’s happening, which players are going where. I like following it all on Twitter and things like that. I knew there was definitely interest in Kieffer and I was confident it was going to get done, so thankfully it has.”
With last week’s embarrassing FA Cup defeat consigned to the history books, Town now have 18 massive league fixtures through to the end of the season and Chaplin, who netted 29 goals in all competitions last season and is on nine for the current campaign, added: “I think it’s always nice when February comes along. By the time the transfer window closes you know exactly what you’ve got in the building and we’re looking to make it an exciting finish to the season.
“We’ve got two or three months left to really have a go at it and see how far we can get. It’s just about the process we’re on and looking to continue improving and see how many points we can pick up along the way.”
On a lighter note, Chaplin was asked what he thought of pal and teammate Wes Burns’s decision to ditch his ponytail last week to reveal a very different hairstyle. He laughed: “I probably wasn’t as shocked as a lot of people when I saw it. But although I knew he was going to get it done, it still took a bit of getting used to.
“He had stuck with his old haircut for so long and when you see somebody on a regular basis, almost every day of the week in our case, it still came as a bit of a surprise. I like it and I think he’s looking good. He’s lucky he can pull off things like that.”
The conversation quickly switched to more serious matters and Chaplin was asked again about the January transfer window. “It’s normal and we’re used to it now,” he explained. “We’ve been playing God knows how long, the staff have been in the game God knows how long, we’re all used to it.
“I think it shows the mentality of the group and there’s not anything in terms of noise that should affect players. I can understand it might be different for lads when they are maybe trying to get into or out of clubs but for the team in general not much has changed at all.
“I wasn’t surprised at all. I follow football religiously, so I knew about the goals Ali was scoring week in, week out. I knew about the quality and the physicality that he’s got – it was impressive – but it wasn’t just that.
“I’ve seen the underlying numbers behind it, in terms of how many chances he has been getting and also the chances he has been creating himself, which also says a lot.
“A lot of our squad have played in League Two and League One. There are so many good players out there and he’s such a good age as well to come and make the next step. We just need to help him settle in and help him try and get better as a footballer.
“I hope the effect will be the same as last year, otherwise our recruitment isn’t very good, is it? I don’t think there would be any point if it wasn’t the case. I think the only reason people come in the building is to improve us and I think that’s certainly what has happened with the calibre of player we have brought in.
“It’s a really good blend of age and experience at this level, I think it’s exciting and I can’t wait to understand more about their games and for them to show us what they’ve got and how they can help. The quicker we can help them to settle in, the better for everyone.
“I don’t just mean in terms of the changing room – I think that’s a given because it’s an easy place to settle in and I really mean that – but also in terms of on the pitch and the patterns of play and little messages you can give out.
“It’s the same in training as well and it falls on our shoulders as well as the manager and the coaching staff. It’s our job to help lads settle in and know where their passes and their movements are, and to understand each other’s games as quickly as possible. I think that’s part of our job as players and senior lads as well.”
Asked about the part that analysis play in today’s game, Chaplin continued: “It’s football now really. I don’t think when I first started coming through that it was a thing. Analysis was but in-game analysis is a big thing now in terms of half-time and tweaks here and there tactically. Whether it’s positionally or the shape, little things can make such a big difference.
“When I was new to the professional scene, I don’t remember it being a thing. I only really came across it at Barnsley, where we had foreign managers and I thought that maybe explained it a bit. I found it really helpful as a player and since I’ve been here it has gone to a completely different level.
“There are times in games when you might feel it’s not going your way, or you might think we’re doing alright, but when the boss and the coaches come in at half-time and show us things and change something, it usually makes a big difference usually, which I think probably explains why we have been successful in the second half of a lot of our games.”
When asked for his view on statistics, Chaplin added: “Some of them are pointless and some are really educational, definitely. I think that depending on your position and you as a player, stats are there for a lot of people to think they’ve got an opinion and are geniuses in the game without really knowing how much the stats really mean.
“As a person, and as a player, I think you probably need to know which ones are important and speak to the manager if you’re not sure and know where he wants you to improve.
“Stats like that – Expected Goals is probably the biggest one in the game now because I think you see the result and the expected goals are underneath; whatever the result should have been. Football doesn’t work like that but it has probably come on in leaps and bounds from when I first came through as a player.”
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