‘The gaffer and Doigy have been brilliant’ – Gerken’s praise for ‘positive’ and ‘consistent’ management duo
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 September 2018
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Dean Gerken has heaped praise on manager Paul Hurst and assistant Chris Doig ahead of this afternoon’s Championship match at Birmingham City.
The Blues are still searching for their first win of the campaign following five home draws and five away defeats across all competitions.
“You could go into that changing room right now and you wouldn’t know if we were second top or second bottom – genuinely,” insisted Gerken, who has played the last four games after Bartosz Bialkowski was dropped for the East Anglian derby.
“I know people come in here and give you spiel, but I’ve been there, done it and seen it. I’ll say it how it is, that doesn’t bother me.
“There’s a buzz around the training sessions, the music’s on, everyone’s bouncing, banter is flying about and that all comes from the top. The gaffer and Doigy have been brilliant.
“Don’t get me wrong, they tell us we need to be winning games, but there is also that level of consistency in the way they act which obviously rubs off on how we are around the place.
“No-one has gone into themselves. There is no difference between the players who are playing and not playing. I think the gaffer gives enough positive feedback to everyone for them to know they’ve got a chance of playing. The level of consistency from them has been so good.”
The 33-year-old, who is set to make his 100th appearance for the Blues today, added: “I think we’re getting closer to where we need to be. We’re not winning games, but I don’t feel like we are getting pulled from pillar to post like I’ve felt in goal during certain times in my career.
“Brentford was a game of two halves wasn’t it? First half was like playing against the Red Arrows! As much as I didn’t have a lot to do first half, some cleaning up and a couple of basic saves, it was their movement which was hard to deal with mentally. I don’t think I’ve come across that many times. After the game I was like ‘I’ve got a headache from watching that!’
“Second half we changed the system and you wouldn’t have thought that Brentford team was lying second in the league. We had a great opportunity to actually win the game. So we know we can do it, and if we can do it against a team like Brentford then we have to take the positives from that.
“I feel comfortable behind the back four. Psychologically it was a case of ‘get a clean sheet’ (in last weekend’s goalless home draw with Bolton) and now hopefully it will be like London buses and they’ll come again and again and again now.
“Even in the Hull game, where we didn’t have too many shots on target, there were moments where the ball flies across the face and, when you’re flying, the ball hits a defender and goes in. Those things aren’t going for us at the minute.
“You make your own luck though. We’ll keep plugging away and I’m sure those snap-shots will soon become goals.”
Long-term and popular goalkeeper coach Malcolm Webster retired this summer, with Darren Smith being promoted to the role from within.
“Mally, for want of a better word, has groomed him to make the step up,” explained Gerken. “Smudge has been around us for a long time, he knows how we work and the training sessions haven’t changed that much. We do the same routines.
“It’s a massive opportunity for him to work at this level and so far it’s been a smooth transition. Nothing’s changed drastically in terms of what we do goalkeeper wise.
“Obviously the fitness stuff has changed with Nathan (Winder) and (Chris) Skitty – and that can only help us. It’s what most teams do nowadays with the conditioning and the pre-activation and stuff like that.
“That’s been brilliant for me (post hip surgery) with the muscles I’ve had to wake up. That’s happening within training sessions now rather than having to work on it individually on my own, which can be a slog.
“Now you’re automatically getting this conditioning in your body which helps not only me, but I would think if you asked most of the players they’d say it’s helping them too.”