Big interview: Dean Gerken on competing with Bialkowski, life under Lambert and Town’s relegation battle
PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Dean Gerken spoke to the press yesterday. Here’s what he had to say about being dropped by Paul Hurst, the relegation battle ahead and enjoying life under Paul Lambert.
Q: How big was that 1-0 win against Wigan last weekend?
A: We’ve used the ball so well since the gaffer’s been here and probably not got what we deserved.
As we’ve begun to play out the back more and play more of a possession game, people were obviously not going to let us do that.
Wigan laid traps for us, they made it sticky for us in certain situations so it was important for us – not to have a Plan B – but to roll our sleeves up and get that dirty win.
The boys were buzzing afterwards and you could see what it meant to everyone. It was a great result.
Q: And a great save from you at the end...
A: I’ve said before that going under the radar and quietly doing your job is fine by me. The saves aren’t the big thing for me, it’s more about being tidy and making sure everyone else is tidy and doing what they should be doing.
We need to be solid and resilient at the back. We are playing good football, we just need that bit of grit and determination to get us over the line in games.
Q: The hope must be that you can kick on from here?
A: We’ve played brilliant football since the manager has been in here and maybe not got what we deserved. We’ve had the confidence of the performances, but that didn’t change the league table.
Now we’ve got that monkey off our backs, hopefully that can turn into a run because we know we can do it now.
Q: How big are these next four games over Christmas?
A: Everyone in English football from the Prem down to the lower leagues knows how tough this time of year is. A lot of the big teams in all leagues can come unstuck over the Christmas period.
It’s up to us now to dig in deep and make sure we get the points we need and come January be in a position to kick on.
The games come thick and fast and as a footballer you want that.
Q: Was it a surprise when you were dropped by Paul Hurst for the Leeds game back in October?
A: It’s never a surprise when you’ve got Bart (Bialkowski) behind you.
Obviously you know the pressure of being in goal and we’ve got two goalkeepers here who have played in the first team and competing for the same spot. That pressure never goes whether you win, lose or draw.
Obviously I was gutted about it, but it was a weird time. I was one game out of the team and then the Paul Hurst lost his job.
There wasn’t time to dwell on it (being dropped) because then a new manager arrives and you’re concentrating on impressing him.
Bart and I both found out we were dropped the day before the game. First you’re trying to get yourself off the come down of not playing, then you’d usually reflect, but the manager was sacked. Your mind set then becomes about digging deep to impress the new manager.
As a goalkeeper you always have to believe an opportunity will be around the corner and keep training well.
Jimmy Walker came in and gave us a new structure to goalkeeper training. That puts your tail up a bit.
Then you just hope on getting your chance and, luckily for me, that’s happened in a short space of time.
Q: You’ve always spoken about how you and Bart (Bialkowski) support each other regardless of who is playing...
A: Nothing changes with me and Bart. We’ve been in this situation for a long time now and it’s never a problem.
Q: What’s Jimmy Walker (new goalkeeper coach recruited from Sunderland) been like?
A: Jimmy’s been brilliant. I knew him from years ago at Colchester and stayed in contact for a long time after that. He’s a great character.
Smudge (Darren Smith) did a great job, but obviously new managers want their cluster of people around them.
I knew exactly what Jimmy would be. He actually been that and more. It’s a different way of goalkeeper coaching. Me and Bart have both been enjoying it, as well as Harry (Wright) and the young boys.
Q: You played under Paul Lambert at Colchester. Were pleased when you heard he was being appointed?
A: He was someone you never thought about coming in, but when I heard it I thought ‘yeah that absolutely matches’ because of the way he makes you feel like a good player overnight.
That’s a hard thing to do, but I saw him do it at Colchester and I’ve seen him do it again here. It just shows how good he is and why he was appointed.
At Colchester he did a tremendous job. He came into a team that was depleted and on a down following relegation from the Championship and turned things around and got everyone pulling in the right direction again.
You can see that’s what he’s done here. We’ve just had the Christmas lunch and it was buzzing. The atmosphere around the club has completely changed and he’s made it a really enjoyable.
Q: Was the style of football the same under him then?
A: That was 10/12 years ago I played under him and the way we are playing now wasn’t really invented then!
Tactically the stuff we do at the moment is brilliant for older players like me.
You want to be learning new things and occupying your mind because learning keeps you young.
We have meetings every day and he teaches us something new every day. It’s brilliant because it’s stimulating your mind having to work out certain things.
It’s been brilliant for me, Skusey, Chambo and the older heads in the team.
You wouldn’t have thought this team would have been able to play the style of football we’re playing at the minute. I think that speaks volumes about what the gaffer is doing here.
Q: It’s clear that Paul Lambert wants you to p;lay out from the back. How is that for you as a goalkeeper?
A: I prefer it because you’re in the game a lot more. If you’re sending goal kicks to a certain area up the pitch then that’s you done, whereas if you give it short you have to be an option to get it back. It’s almost like being another defender.
When you receive the ball you’ve got to know where you are going to pass it. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it. When we all get up to scratch with it it’s going to be brilliant. It’s really enjoyable to play.
Bravery or stupidity comes into it! When we get the ball now we all know our next pass. Unless the opposition does something out of the blue, we know what we’re doing with the ball rather than it being a guessing game.
Every day we have a five minute tactical meeting to show us all the out balls for every player, including the goalkeeper. That’s a real help and makes it far more enjoyable for us instead of just getting the ball and booming it into an area.
Now you know you’re hitting it into an area and a player is going to be there and are going to have time to get it down and do something.
Q: You experienced relegation at both Colchester and Bristol City. What are your memories of that?
A: The one at Colchester was a horrible season. I’ve been through it twice now and it’s not a great experience. It’s something that does stick with you. I don’t want it to happen again.
We all know what it means to stay in this league. No-one wants to be going down a league. Everyone knows how important it is.
Q: Do you belief you can get out of this situation?
A: Yes, because it’s been fine margins and on so many occasions we could have had more points on the board.
Previous to that we’d lost games and thought there was maybe no way we could improve. You feel down in the dumps because you’re thinking there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Now (under Lambert) we might not have been getting results, but the game plan was there and you could see light at the end of the tunnel.
The positivity that gaffer has brought in is great. We all come out the meetings laughing and knowing what we want to do.
Q: Does the owner need to really back the manager in January now?
A: That’s a horrible question! Everyone welcomes new signings because you always want to improve as a team, wherever you are in the league.
Also changing rooms need it. You need a new face, a new voice, a new opinion. It’s very important.