Hayles exclusive

Thursday 31 January 2002

Wednesday night's game at Ipswich was disappointing in many respects. For so many players to have off-days at the same time was unfortunate, but there also seemed to be a collective lack of the sort of determination necessary to go out and take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Ipswich worked hard and battled well, but the unavoidable feeling after the game was that it was there for the winning, and it left the mood at Motspur Park the following day understandably sombre. Striker Barry Hayles speaking after the morning's training session summed up the player's frustrations.

"We didn't play well to be honest," he said, "We kept the ball like we usually do, but we didn't seem to have any cutting edge.

"Everybody's very upset with the performance, the manager especially, because it was a game that we could have won. For some reason we didn't approach it properly, so now the manager's trying to sort that out and get us back to winning ways."

Manager Jean Tigana was clearly unhappy throughout the game, his touchline gesticulations getting more and more agitated as the match went on. The players would not have been looking forward to the next day's training and being on the receiving end of the Frenchman's exasperation.

"We were all in for a meeting this morning to go through what went wrong," said Hayles. "The players know what they have got to do, we didn't really need to be told. We want to be pushing for Europe and we all want that badly.

"The manager doesn't shout, but he made it very clear that he thought we should have done better. He said we should have been more clinical and approached it in a more positive frame of mind.

"He's not someone you want to be on the wrong side of, and really we came off knowing that we should have done more. We didn't penetrate enough and that's what the manager was saying. He wasn't just picking on the forwards. The team as a whole has got to start taking some more risks, and push people forward more, and that's what he said we've got to concentrate on.

"The only time we did take a few risks was in the last five or ten minutes when we pushed bodies forward, but really it was a case of too little too late."

Obviously unhappy with the way things were going, Tigana changed the shape of the team in the second half, with Hayles coming on to play up front with Marlet and Saha pushing wide, and John Collins brought on to try and provide the creativity missing in the middle. Hayles bustling runs caused some scares in the Ipswich rearguard but the changes weren't enough to lift the team to the levels that the fans know they can reach.

Without at all excusing the team's poor performance on the day, it has to be said that the ball did not bounce kindly for them and some of the referee's decisions, to put it kindly, were somewhat on the bizarre side.

"The Gaffer changed it round at half time," Hayles said, "Because we really weren't penetrating and weren't doing anything in the last third and getting balls into the box enough. Their goal was a bit dubious, but we could have bounced back from that

"Where the linesman was, he probably thought Rufus Brevett played him on and once he'd done that we were struggling. We were unlucky with the deflection on the cross. Zat Knight blocked it and it looped up and could have gone anywhere and of course it went straight in.

"It looked like a clear penalty late on against Marlet. The referee was close to that one, it was a blatant push, and we all got round him but he said he didn't see it. I thought there were a lot of decisions that went against us to be honest."

There was also a strong feeling in the camp that the fans had been let down. Hayles spoke about the player's resolve to get it right next time.

"Hopefully, we can bounce back strongly. We've got two home games up next, and we're looking to get all six points and climb up that table. The team are very determined to put on a good show against Villa for the fans. There were a lot of supporters that went down to Ipswich and we sent them home disappointed."

A backlash against the Villa would be very welcome indeed. A few goals and a convincing win would do much to dispel the disappointment of Wednesday night's unfortunate visit to East Anglia.