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Interviews

INTERVIEW: It feels like we're right on the edge of it

The second part of our interview with Joe Riley

8 February 2021

The post-match ‘curry shot’ has become as much a part of the social media match day experience as the team line-up announcement or the coverage of the build-up, but it went to another level following the Forest Green encounter when man of the match Joe Riley posed with his selection of Viceroy food, with an expression that fully reflected how he felt about the final result in the game.

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In the hours and days following the posting of the image it went viral, with national media outlets quick to pick up on the unique partnership (even if they did skimp on the research and the facts).

Speaking about the interest this particular ‘curry shot’ had generated, the man himself said: “What I’ll say first of all is that the curry is always good from The Viceroy.

“But to address the way I looked, we got beat and I was obviously annoyed, as all the boys were. I wasn’t going to smile because I wasn’t happy with the result, but the curry was great so thank you to them for that!

“We’re just grateful that they provide us with some food after each game, but can I just clarify it’s not just the man of the match that gets the curry, it’s everybody. Twitter seems to think it’s just one person, which has been great these past few days!

“The other thing to put straight is that it isn’t a korma. I’m not sure what it was, but it was really nice. I love a curry so it’s definitely something I look forward to.

“Players can eat different things after games, it doesn’t always have to be healthy, and I think you do need to restock your carbs so the rice is perfect for that. At other clubs we’ve had pizza and other stuff, so it’s no different other than it’s curry, which works perfectly for me.”

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But speaking more about the picture that ended up going viral, he said: “I was obviously extremely disappointed after the game and I think my expression shows that.

“I wasn’t willing to throw a smile out there even though I appreciated the fact we had the food. The biggest thing for me was that feeling of disappointment, first and foremost, but it has been funny over the last couple of days and I’ve had players from pretty much every club messaging me about it.

“Family and friends from all over the country have been sending me the picture and having a laugh, but I don’t think they understood just how disappointed I was. I think a lot of people misunderstood the context of the food, thinking the award was just for one person and not realising we all got it. It’s been good, to be fair.”

Looking back at the Tuesday night result, he told us: “The whole squad were disappointed after the game. Once we got the goal we probably could have gone on to get three points, or at least get one.

“It was a frustrating night but there’s no point dwelling on it because we’ve got games coming thick and fast and we just need to get that momentum going again that we had before the break. I think once we get back into the rhythm of things we’ll be able to push on and hopefully achieve something good this season.

“It was quiet in the dressing room afterwards but I think that’s a good thing. The boys being disappointed just shows how much we want to win every game. Everybody is working as hard as they can, and disappointment after losing is a good sign, because we’re all so desperate to get these wins and do something good for this club and the fans.”

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As with the Exeter game, the Tuesday night fixture brought another example of a team that looks like it’s right on the brink of kicking on and making a return to the type of performances which took them to the top of the table prior to the January shutdown.

“Different people are obviously feeling different ways at the moment,” he explained. “I feel alright but some players have had Covid and no one can really say how much it affects you.

“We’ve got some players who are still a bit affected, maybe not being able to run as hard and getting a bit more fatigue. We probably made more mistakes on Tuesday than we have all season, so maybe the decision making isn’t quite there and things like that, so we just need to get back into the flow of playing games and we’ll be fine.

“Having said that, on Tuesday we lost to a penalty and a free kick. Every respect to them for winning the game but there was nothing in it in free play. We got a nice goal to get it back to 1-1 and it felt like we could have gone on and won it. It does feel we’re right on the edge of it and I do think things will change quickly as long as we prepare right for the games we’ve got coming up.

“I think teams are probably looking out for the speed in which we press them. The gaffer is always telling us to do things quickly so teams aren’t quite ready.

“Even if we aren’t playing our best football, if we go out there and we’re quick to press and quick to defend, teams don’t know what’s happening and end up giving us the ball anyway. The press is great and it’s something we’ve worked really hard on, which is showing in the games now.”

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On a personal level, his emergence this season has coincided with a move into midfield and a very important role which includes a high energy approach to everything that passes through the middle of the park.

“I’ve played in midfield in youth teams and academy football but stepping up into first team football is much more physical,” he revealed. “I’m not the tallest player out there, even though I’m not too small, but I think some people maybe thought I might lack the physical side.

“I think maybe the gaffer thought that as well to begin with, I was probably seen as having more technical attributes rather than physical ones, but the gaffer has drilled that into me now and I feel like I’m really battling out there in terms of leaving my mark on players and fighting a bit more in midfield.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. The gaffer definitely asks for a lot of energy and high work rate but that’s what you need in any team, especially if you want to go on and achieve something. It’s tough, it can be a real blow – well, every game is a blow – but you’ve got Jon Mellish who just runs and runs and you’ve got Callum Guy who commands the midfield from behind us.

“I think we’re working well together to get things going and we’ve got such a big squad that we’ve got players who can fill in different positions. Everyone has bought into what we want to do and we all want to work hard for each other, for the club and for the fans, so it’s been easy to buy into it all if I’m being honest.

“Along with that is the fact it’s such a good group of lads. I can hold my hands up and say that I completely agree with every player who has said that so far. I’ve never worked with a group of lads so tight knit.

“There are no bad personalities in the group, everyone wants the same thing, everyone works hard and gives it their all, and it’s just like working with your friends every day who are all aiming to achieve the same thing. We bounce off each other and we learn from each other.”

Another high this season was his first ever senior goal, which came in some style in a 4-0 home win over Stevenage in December.

“I was very happy with the goal but it isn’t something I’m going to keep thinking about because I know I need to get more goals and assists,” he commented. “To get my first league goal with my weak foot isn’t too bad though, that's fair enough.

“The family were happy and it was a proud moment for me. I was obviously happy to get the assist for Gime [Toure] on Tuesday as well but I want to contribute more. I feel like I’ve improved on the defensive side of my game but I want to kick on now and get some more goals.

“With the assist, I was actually talking about this the other day, I think it's as good as a goal, and once the ball goes over the line it doesn’t matter who has scored it.

“It was great for Gime to get his first league goal, but if I’ve been a part of it and the team have scored, I’m thrilled. Unfortunately they scored quickly but that’s been and gone now.

“It’s now about taking each game as it comes and making sure I’m ready. I worked hard through January to make sure I’d be as fit as I could be.

“When you get back you do initially think about whether or not you will feel alright, and maybe I’ve shocked myself, but I actually do feel great. I’ve enjoyed the games, I feel sharp, I’m ratting around in the midfield and I’m trying to play my part.

“We’ll have more challenges ahead. It can be frustrating and you can have players who get Covid, which is a horrible situation, but you’ve just got to keep going. All you can do is prepare for every game as if you’ll play.

“They’ll all add up towards the end of the season whenever you play them, so you’ve just got to make sure you stay fit. If everyone works hard they’ll do the job if they’re asked to step up, and that’s where we need to be.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Joe Riley on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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