Neil McDonald insisted West Ham United will be ready for the start of the Barclays Premier League season, despite seeing the Hammers fall to a disappointing 3-1 pre-season defeat at Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The assistant manager conceded that West Ham had not been at their best at Portman Road, pointing to an experimental formation, a slow start and individual errors as the major factors in causing the loss - factors that the team will have to avoid repeating when they travel to Portuguese UEFA Champions League qualifiers SC Braga on Friday evening.
Talking to West Ham TV, McDonald said pre-season was the time to make mistakes and take risks, but confirmed that the Hammers will be prepared come the big kick-off at home to Aston Villa on Saturday 18 August.
What was your assessment of the Ipswich Town game, Macca?
NM - "The performance wasn't very good. Our performances over pre-season have been decent and we look for a bit of progression and in the first half we didn't really get it, so we're disappointed with that. We played a different system than we normally play and I think we got over-run and outpassed in the first half. A few home truths were told at half-time and I think we ame out and played a lot better in the second half. We created a few chances and scored a goal ourselves and then conceded again at the end. The performance has to be better and we've got another two weeks to make sure they are better. We'll train and we also have the Braga game and we'll be ready for Aston Villa."
We were 2-0 down within 20 minutes after conceding a penalty and free-kick just outside our penalty area, while the third goal was also avoidable. Saying that, we did improve in the second half. What were the reasons?
NM - "We don't like individual mistakes. We conceded a penalty and then a wide free-kick and everyone has the responsibility to defend a wide free-kick better. The third goal we had to defend better and not give the ball away. Those are the things we'll be working very, very hard on over the next two weeks and hopefully we'll see an improvement against Braga on Friday. I think we played better in the second half because we told them a few home truths about each individual performance and the unit performance [at half-time]. If you get both of them right you play better and I think we played better in the second half. The aim is to produce a better performance on Friday. The aim has always been to be ready for the start of the season and Aston Villa. We've got to be ready for Aston Villa and if our performance is good against Braga, then we'll be happy with that."
With two weeks to go until the start of the Barclays Premier League season, presumably yourself, Big Sam and the Board will be eager to strengthen the squad before 18 August?
NM - "I think we've got a thinnish squad. We've obviously got two away at the Olympics and a few injuries and we had a couple of the young lads on the bench on Saturday. When they came on they did all right and it was a good experience for them. Behind the scenes, if we can bring in two or three players to stiffen the squad up and add more competition for places that would be brilliant. It'll keep everybody on their toes as well if we can bring new faces in."
*Neil McDonald also revealed that Kevin Nolan and Jack Collison will soon be back in action in his West Ham TV interview. To watch it in full, login or subscribe by clicking the link below.