Head coach Chris Beech spoke to us about what will be a tough test tonight as the Blues face Cardiff City in an Emirates FA Cup third-round replay here at Brunton Park.
“To beat them will be a massive task but I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” he said. “We were excellent when we played them at their ground and I want a repeat, if not try and enhance that performance.
“What I will say is that I think this game will be far harder than the one we had down there. I think they’ll respect what we did, they’ll take that into account with team selection, even though they did pick a strong team in the first game.
“Neil Harris is trying to get to know all his players, he had a positive result and a clean sheet against Swansea in the derby, and they’re definitely going to come here and want to progress, because it’s good for him and his club.
“My job is to protect the opportunity we have. I understand we’ll need to be right at it. To go through this tie we’ll need all 11 players to be doing their jobs, and the three substitutes who come on will also need to be ready to affect the game.”
With the opportunity to progress to the fourth round there for both teams, he said: “I hear people use the term free hit or a relief of pressure, but it’s not.
“I look at it the other way, it’s an opportunity to make sure we get better, to go against higher-class opposition, and it’s a great platform for the players. They have to not fear it, but embrace the challenge and take it into our league programme.
“Let’s represent our fans, ourselves, in this game to the best of our abilities. They got behind us down there and we’ll need them again tonight, one hundred percent. If we catch Cardiff on the off-day, the weather’s in our favour, and we get things right and react the right way to mistakes, who knows?
“We’ve seen a good reaction in training this week but like anything, my dad used to say to me it’s no good singing in the shower son, you’ve got to sing on stage. We’ve got to make sure we bring it to the game on Wednesday.
“I think in reflection to what we did or didn’t do on Saturday, it’s vital we stick to traits that have represented us quite well in my 10 games. The three defeats have been against top-six teams who are very good, have a lot of resources and finance.
“Obviously Cardiff are bigger than those three, so we have to make sure that the players who get an opportunity are right at it. In terms of reflecting on what Cardiff can do, it’s more important we concentrate on what we can do. It was evident on Saturday, and I said this in my interview and in the feedback I gave to the lads, that what we produced against Plymouth wasn’t acceptable.”
On how he expects the visitors to approach the game, he told us: “Neil has a lot of players to choose from and different things he can do within that. They had some strong players in the last game – was Murphy £11m? Come on! What would £11m do for us and that’s just one player.
“It’s ridiculous what we’re going against. Sometimes we forget, it’s probably because recent history, we’ve played Cardiff in a league game. They’ve gone through the roof in finance and facility. That’s why it would be fantastic to beat them.
“Their players are at that level because they’re good enough to sustain it. The reason often that a player plays higher, or even an athlete in a different sport can progress more, sometimes it’s not because they get better, it’s that they can stay consistent more often, and repeat actions, stay near the hot-spot of perfect performance.
“We have players who can hit a Championship-standard performance, but when we hit that it’s usually as an individual, not collective. We have to try and encourage those habits in the players, the way we train, react, the professionalism of us to prepare for games and try and hit more consistent traits.
“It’s all about developing good habits, not relaxing when you’ve done something good. You guys often write positive and negative things, because you can only, I suppose, talk about what’s in front of you, as the supporters see what we are.
“But I feel they understand there’s been a difference, but we need to have it represented correctly with our three points. The support they gave at Cardiff, and the way they supported the lads on Saturday was quite commendable. They could see they didn’t give up, but their efforts were wasted in many different ways. Collectively we’ve all got to be right at it.”
“Like I say, if we can get the result, it’s got to be celebrated,” he continued. “I think we should celebrate the fact we’re doing this now, before we actually play the game. It’s definitely one we’ll be ready for.
“I have no problem in terms of getting up for a football match, whether it’s Cardiff or whoever. Saturday’s result has gone, and like I said about the Colin Calderwood interview I’d seen from a long time ago, he’s worked at Brighton, Newcastle, Aston Villa, and he said dealing with the inconsistencies at this level, he just writes them off.
“I don’t, I’ll reflect on what’s gone on. Obviously the lads were proud of what they did at Cardiff, and you guys in the press lauded them for it, and rightly so, but to our own discredit we couldn’t repeat it, and that’s what we have to be able to do.
“It’s going to be hard, it really is, but good things generally are. What in life that you enjoy and you get reward for ever comes easy? There aren’t many things like that in this life. If we work really hard and we get things right, who knows, we might do it.
“It would be great for the supporters and everybody at the football club if we can get through. It will be good revenue, and it’s important because the window is open. I’m so pleased we’ve retained Gethin [Jones], and there are other things that aren’t quite done yet, but they will. The plates will fall in at the appropriate time, and we’ll be constantly working until the window shuts. In the meantime, we have to win games.”
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