Can you give your reflections on the performance?
Obviously it was a massive game for us, playing away against a really good team that makes very little errors, that concedes very little and that they are extremely dangerous. I think we had some really good periods in the game, we went ahead, but the red card changes the context completely. We had to dig in, we had to suffer, we showed great resilience, we defended the box extremely well, and that’s why at the end we got the points.
How much of a concern is your red card record?
Very worrying. To be fair, it’s the first time I’ve seen a red card like this in 18 years that I’ve been in this league. I think you have to be pretty willing to give a red card in that situation. But still it happened. We know that playing with 10 men in this league you’re not gonna get points, enough points, the points that we want and we have to stop it. But to be fair it’s difficult to find more arguments and more ways to transmit that to the players. Everybody says it’s the most disciplined group they’ve seen in the last 15 years, but still we are getting red card for other things.
The team showed great resilience and character to grind out the victory didn’t they?
I keep telling you guys how close they are, how much they like to play together, the unity and togetherness around that dressing room and how willing they are to defend that shirt every single match. I really mean it when I say that and today was another example. I think we have so many and that’s why I’m proud to be the coach of these players.
With the squad being slim this now means another suspension. Martinelli is a player you can’t afford to lose isn’t he?
No and Gabi has been extremely good the last few months. I think the level that he’s playing at, the way he’s been every game, the way he’s been evolving. It’s a real shame because he’s gonna miss the game now because we need him and because we are really, really short.
Do you feel referees are targeting you as a team because you’ve had so many red cards?
If you ask me if I’m happy with the decisions we’ve had this season, I’m not at all. But that’s a conversation I will have privately with the officials. We need explanations, we need explanations with what happened in VAR and I need explanations with what happened today.
Have you had those conversations already?
No but they are gonna happen soon.
Could you reflect on how good Rob Holding was after he came on?
Today he deserves a lot of credit. He was on the bench, he was ready to help. His attitude, his commitment to the team whether he plays every week or plays one minute, it’s incredibly good. He’s a really good influence for the rest. Today he really helped the team, the way he defended the box made a huge difference. Thanks to him we won the game.