Preston North End forward Tom Barkhuizen says the Lilywhites have to be more imaginative around the opposition penalty area as the side prepare to face Birmingham City at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites’ No.29 spoke to iFollow PNE ahead of the clash with the Blues, in an extensive sit down, where he discussed the recent form and the weekend’s opponents.
And he says that the set up and approach of the second city side is likely to be similar to that they have already faced in PR1 so far this season and therefore they have to try and find different ways to break them down.
He said: “It is probably not something you associate with a Spanish manager, going in and making a team really solid, but on the other hand they have scored five goals all season.
“In those situations, you can think that you are playing well and having lots of the ball and then they hit you in transition and hurt you and unfortunately we have fallen into that trap far too many times at home so far this season.
“We are going to have to be clever in our play; not get too excited if we are having a big dominant spell, because they are going to let us have the ball, let us move the ball and they are going to be very tactically astute, so we need to switch on and if we do make a mistake at the top end of the pitch, that we are all set behind and that we get back in as quickly as possible and stop them doing what they are set up to do.
“We also need to be a little bit more creative, a little bit more imaginative; get balls into the box, try one-twos around the box and things like that, because the only way you break these teams down is by quick play and by doing something they don’t expect. That’s what we need to do and we will be giving it everything we’ve got.
“We need to probably play with a little bit more tempo. On Wednesday we had the illnesses and it was the third game in six days, but because the lads have been doing well and starting, we have all been there when the manager asks ‘are you fine to play?’ that if you are winning, then you are always fine to play.
“Some of those lads have worked hard to get into the team, so you are not going to give the shirt away, because, if for example I came in and scored two, you lose your place again. It is a really difficult one from both the players and the manager’s point of view.
“He has found a formula that has worked over the past few games and those players have a right to play because they are playing well, but we need to figure it out together as players and staff and I have every confidence that we will do that.”
Tom was left a frustrated figure after the midweek loss to Millwall, seeing the Lions’ ’keeper prevent him scoring with a save with his face and then seeing a penalty given against him, which was later shown to be anything but.
“It probably sums up our home form; especially personally – the two decisions that have gone against me are just strange,” he continued. “When you are struggling at home, to have decisions go against you that are absolutely ridiculous compounds the way that things are going.
“We are finding it tough and it is something that has been going on since Christmas, that we can’t turn our away form into our home form and things have flipped on their head, because at the start of last season we couldn’t buy a point away from home. You need to go for you and at the moment they are not and we have to accept that we won’t always get decisions and we need to get on with it and figure out a way that it does not accept us too much.
“If all our points had been won at home, it wouldn’t make a difference, it is still three points for a win. I don’t think, at the moment, playing at home is an advantage. The weekend we lost against Cardiff, there was only one home win all weekend in the Championship, so it is not just us. Just look at the Premier League, Manchester United can’t buy a home win either, there just seems to have been a strange feeling across the whole country in terms of home games. You get same points you are home or away and thankfully we have managed to pick up ten points on the road.
“The most annoying thing is the fact that we haven’t scored – you have to give yourself a chance to win, but at the moment, both offensively and defensively we aren’t doing that, because when we are on top in games we are losing a bit of concentration and conceding, which is probably a difficult place mentally for the forwards and the defence.
“I spoke to Pottsy [Brad Potts] after the game on Wednesday night and he said ‘I gave it away’; but he is a forward player, who is trying to create something. You can’t play and think ‘I might give it away because they might score’ and the defensive line can’t think ‘we’ve got to keep a clean sheet because we can’t score’, so we just need to find that balance and have confidence in each other that we are in our positions and we are being picked to go and do our job and we need to stick together and hopefully we can turn it around on Saturday.”
And even though the recent annoyances have left him taking his mood home with him, he says the side must just move onto the next game and try and make that a positive: “I mention in quite a lot of interviews I do about looking at the bigger picture and the Stoke game, we were battering them for 25 minutes and then a stupid decision and we had the red card and lost the game; then the other night, I had a chance when we were just moving it a big quicker and then a stupid penalty comes and changes it.
“At the start of last season, we were the ones getting the penalties and all the decisions, so you can’t complain too much, but there is an element that these decisions aren’t difficult.
“If they were in the Premier League, they would be getting turned over, but we don’t have the luxury of someone being paid to sit in a room and tell the referees when they’re not doing their job properly.
“That is really frustrating and I have found that with these recent decisions.
“I don’t tend to take football home with me, but the other night really hit, I was really wound up.
“It just seems to be one thing after the other and it all seems to be at home where our form hasn’t been great, so it has all been building up, but hopefully we can go into Saturday, it is a new game, so let’s take it to them, try and get an early goal and try and win the game,” he added.
There’s loads more from Tom in our new 12-minute preview of the weekend’s game with him; just click on the video at the top of the page to watch the extended chat.
You can watch the Lilywhites in action on Saturday live on iFollow PNE, with former PNE winger Ross Wallace joining Jonathan Breeze in the Deepdale commentary box, click here now to sign up for a match pass for just £10 for four camera coverage, replays and graphics.