Did the Villa equaliser rattle your players?
I think that is fair to say. I didn’t think there was much in the game. Both teams, up until we scored the first goal, huffed and puffed. I thought we were pretty solid and always looked a threat. You get your nose in front, and then the first goal doesn’t bother me too much, I understand we can do better in those moments.
After the first goal it was poor from us. We dropped our mentality, our intensity, the emotion of that goal effected us too much. We weren’t streetwise enough in them moments. You go into that mode in this division, you’re not going to be succussful and you can be two or three-one down before you know it.
For large parts I thought we looked a very good side, last fifteen minutes I didn’t like at all and it’s something we need to address and the players understand it.
How do you begin to address that?
We need to work, we need to be brutally honest, we need to understand exactly what I’m talking about. Things like the last fifteen minutes, you can’t brush under the carpet. Sometimes in football, there are certain things that happen with games coming thick and fast, you want to move onto the next one. The last 15 minutes there isn’t something we can’t try to address because if the mindset is that and the team perform like that I know we won’t win football matches. We’ll address that first thing and from there as always when we’ve had bumps, we’ve come back.
Is there a mental aspect where they can’t withstand the pressure?
We can withstand the pressure. We’ve withstood the pressure for large parts this year, we’ve been very good defensively. There’s definitely a mental side. This is a team that are desperate to win football matches, a honest bunch of players desperate to do well in this league and I just felt the emotion of the game when they scored – it took a big hit for us. Like in a boxing match sometimes you need to take a knee, regroup and survive and we didn’t have the mechanisms to do that today. At that point we’re still in the game and you can’t let the game transpire like it did after 1-1. That is disappointing and it’s something we’ll learn.
Where does it leave you in the relegation battle?
We’re right in it, right in this race. We’ve put ourselves in a very good position because of how well we’ve done this year in a short space of time. How well the group having taken on the information and understood the flaws and got better. With seven games to go we’re right in with a fighting chance.
What did you make of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s performance?
I thought he was brilliant today. Obviously come off international duty with goals and strikers, their main confidence source is goals. I think you see that. Very pleased with his all round game. Mitro and everyone else will judge him for his goals. I will judge him for his general play and his work ethic for the team and I thought he was exceptional in that. The icing on the cake was his finish and his goal which was massive. It’s just a shame it wasn’t a goal that got us some points today.
How is Ademola Lookman doing?
Looks a bit of a hamstring strain, so I’m not sure how bad that is and we’ll have to assess that tomorrow.
Could lack of experience be a disadvantage, do you need mor experience?
I feel like there’s a team here wanting to learn quick and that’s what we’re going to have to do and we’ve done that very well this year. You can always look at it when you get near the wire and analyse the mistakes. Top players learn from their mistakes and learn from them. We didn”t do that well enough today, we didn’t manage the game well enough and we need to improve on that.
Is the impact of the game defined by the response?
I think it’s clear the last 15 minutes wasn’t good enough. You won’t win football matches in the way we responded to the first goal at 1-1. There’s an innocence to it, I don’t think there’s anything other than that. The players need to understand that. I need to explain to them exactly how I see that last 15 minutes.
This is not something you can do on a training field, it’s something that comes from within a bit more. When you’re desperate and desperate to get points your emotion is so high, when it gets dented it then becomes so low. You need to stay middle of the road and we didn’t manage to do that when they equalised. It was a real hammerblow. As the game transpired we struggled from that moment.
I need to explain exactly what I mean, I played football for 20 years, I know exactly what I mean. It’s now my job to get that across so they understand where I’m coming from. This is a feeling, a nouse, a streetwise-ness, which sometimes this year we’ve fallen short. It’s a work in progress and hopefully the players like they all have done this year, taken it all on board and wanted to get better and hopefully that will be the case today.
Were Villa’s changes more proactive?
They brought on two players and they’ve brought energy to the game and scored a couple of goals so that’s how it works. You can look at it both ways.
You can look at me, have we reacted to those substitutions quick enough?
You could also look at the players and think are we flagging a little bit?
Or you can look at the team, individually and work out was it the subs or was it our actions, our emotions, how we managed the game that was the problem. We’ll work that out on the coach journey home and get a clearer picture. I know where I feel the game was lost today. My experiences and understanding and how I felt for the last 15 minutes was what I was talking about.