Tough Choices Ahead - Holden
Posted: Friday, February 3rd 2017
Friday, February 3rd 2017
In an exclusive interview with City’s matchday programme WellRed, Australian international Bailey Wright opens up about his international ambitions and his recent move to Ashton Gate from Preston North End.
Also featured in Saturday’s edition of the popular magazine, Tammy Abraham reveals some of his favourite things away from football, Jonny Smith answers our A-Z of questions for the Academy and Wright takes on Gary O’Neil in the latest Head2Head quiz.
For more unseen interviews and features, pick up your programme for only £3 from one of the many sellers located around Ashton Gate.
Here’s what Bailey had to say…
What’s been your first impression of Bristol City?
It’s been good. It’s a nice city and I’m starting to get to grips with everything here – the size of the club as well.
I’m enjoying it, but obviously we want to win football matches and we haven’t done that as much as we’d like. We know we’re close to putting a run together now.
Is that how it feels from playing in the games?
Standards in training have been good, the atmosphere around the club is good, but in games – bar maybe one or two – we haven’t really played to our best.
We’ve played some good football, but there are reasons why we haven’t been winning and we’re working hard to fix that.
There are plenty of positives and it’s not worth worrying about where we are now, because we know how quickly we can turn it around.
I hate using the word ‘unlucky’, but maybe we have been at times. There are plenty of good signs and much to look forward to.
In the early weeks of the season, this team was in and around the top six. Are you seeing that level of talent here?
The club had a great start to the season and everyone took notice of it. When you look at the squad here and how the head coach is looking to do things, it’s no surprise to me.
It’s quite strange to find ourselves where we are now, but we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.
We proved what we’re capable of at the start of the season, so there’s no reason why we can’t do that again.
What’s Lee Johnson been like with you?
Really good. Before I signed here we had a good chat; he told me what he was about, what the expectations were and what they’re trying to build here.
With the coaching, I feel I’m learning every day and enjoying a different style. That’s something I’m trying to add to my game to make myself a better player.
How are things different here to what you were used to at Preston?
Every manager has their own philosophy and a way they like to do things. It’s about adjusting to that and knowing what’s expected of you.
I was at Preston for a long time and I knew what we were doing day in day out because I’d done it for so long.
I feel like I’ve been here a while already now. I’ve learned quickly and adapted quickly to the high standards.
In terms of things that are different, you have to look at the way the clubs are structured.
There was a good standard at Preston and there’s a good standard here. Every day you want to up that standard by getting better and better.
It’s about challenging each other to see how much you can do for each other in order to progress as a player and as a team.
Defensively we’ve seen you play in a back three and a back four. How do you find that transition?
No matter what position you play, you have to be able to adapt to different formations. That’s the way of modern football – it’s very tactical.
Whether it’s three at the back or four at the back, I feel quite comfortable with that and I know everyone else does as well.
The more you play those positions the better you become and it’s something I’ve done throughout my career.
We’ve already seen you captaining the team. Did that come as a surprise to you or was it something that was discussed before you signed?
The gaffer always said he saw me as a leader, but he never said he was going to make me captain when the likes of Alby (Aaron Wilbraham) and Gaz (Gary O’Neil) aren’t playing.
He just said he wanted me to bring my leadership to the team. Whether I’ve got the armband or not, it’s something I feel is one of my strengths – talking and organising, even when I’m not necessarily involved.
Do you feel any extra responsibility to justify that decision as a new player who has only recently come into the group?
No, I just have to be myself. It shouldn’t take an armband for you to take more responsibility – you should already be doing as much as you can for your team-mates.
Obviously when you are captain there are certain things you might have to do that you wouldn’t have to do otherwise, but there needs to be 11 leaders, not just one.
Is it something you’ve done much in the past?
Through youth team and reserve team football I was quite often a captain, and for the first team at Preston a few times as well. It’s not something that fazes me – if anything it gives you added motivation to do well.
It’s a privilege to wear the armband, but the most important thing is winning games of football.
It shows how much Lee Johnson thinks of you – he’s taken one look at you and immediately thinks you’re fit for the role…
I take it as a massive compliment that the gaffer sees me as someone he can trust. Hopefully I can repay that and we can be successful.
I’ve not been here long, but the lads have been brilliant in helping me settle in, which always helps when you’re a new face.
Everyone around the place has been really good to me and Bristol is a beautiful place to live.
For the gaffer to give me the armband early on is something I take massive confidence from. I just want to make sure we progress and keep moving forward.
You played a lot of games for Preston and even this season you featured regularly. What was the big pull for you to come here?
I’d been there my whole career since moving to England and I felt it was time for a new challenge.
I’d spoken to the gaffer here, I knew what the club was about and I knew a lot about the players here. It was something that I wanted to be part of.
There is definitely something building here – we have to put the recent run of results behind us. That’s football; it’s about how you react to it.
As the old saying goes; it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
When the option came, I knew it was right for me and now that I’m here, I know it is.
I like the high standards; I like what the gaffer is trying to do, the players that are here and what the club is trying to build.
It ticked all the right boxes and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.
You always want to play football at the highest level possible in the best stadiums against the best teams in front of the biggest crowds – the club is building that here.
You’re an Australian international who went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. How much do you think about the prospect of playing in the next World Cup in 2018?
We’re in the qualifying campaign for it now and we’re itching to get to the next World Cup, which I think we will.
We’ve got some important qualifiers coming up. This summer we’ve got the Confederations Cup and that’s another thing to look forward to, but the big picture is the World Cup in Russia.
I just take each game as it comes. Every time an international break comes up you’re waiting for that message to see if you’ve been selected.
You need to be on your toes because if you’re not performing, you can quickly be out of the squad.
I like to look at the short term. You’ve got to make sure things are going well with your club and you’re winning games of football because that’s what helps you get selected.
How does the popularity of football compare to other sports in Australia?
It depends on where you’re from and whether you’re from the country or the city. Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia – we’ve got great teams and facilities.
Growing up where I was from it was all about Aussie Rules, but I lived just down the road from a local football club.
My mum and dad used to take me down there all the time and I played from a young age.
I was one of those kids who played every sport going – cricket, basketball, Aussie Rules, football…everything. But football was the one I enjoyed most and the one I was best at.
Football is a lot bigger in Australia now than it was when I was younger. There are a lot more pathways for kids – more coaches and a much better setup with the A-League.
It’s grown a lot and I feel it’s only going to continue to grow. Sports like Aussie Rules and rugby have dominated for years, but it’s starting to change now.
I think certain other sports are wary of it – football is the world game and is only going to get bigger.
Is the next big step for Australia to host a World Cup?
We put in a strong case and I think many people would like us to get it. It would be a massive statement.
We’ve got great facilities already, which we will only add to. It’s a safe country with great public transport for everything.
We’ve hosted World Cups in other sports and had the Olympics as well, so there’s no reason why we can’t.
It would be a big thing for us. Hopefully it’s not too far away.
You talk about the growth of the sport, is there a certain responsibility on the current Australia team to be doing well in order to inspire the next generation?
As a national team, we want to do well but we want to have our own identity as well. For many years, Australia have been known as a team that’s tough, hard to beat, physical and fit.
We are all of those things, but we want to show people that we can play good football and mix it with the top teams.
In our Confederations Cup group we’ve got Chile, Germany and the winner of the African Cup of Nations, so it’s a great opportunity for us to show what we can do on the world stage.
If we can do that, I’m sure football will continue to grow in Australia. There’s a big responsibility on us to represent the country and make kids want to play the sport.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a footballer. We want more kids to be thinking like that so they can have dreams and heroes of their own.
Who were your Australian role models when you were growing up?
I used to love Mark Viduka and Lucas Neill, who was a great centre-half.
Then there was Tim Cahill, who I loved as a kid and I’ve now played with him, which is pretty special. He’s still going and still scoring goals! I remember watching him score at the World Cup when Australia had not qualified for years and years.
There was Mark Bresciano and Harry Kewell as well – we’ve had a lot of great players and it’s important we keep producing them.
YOU WANTED TO KNOW…
How has it been settling into Bristol? Have you had the chance to explore the city yet? - @UltimateWebFan
I’ve explored it quite a lot actually. I’ve done a lot of walking around the city centre and it’s a beautiful place.
It actually reminds me of Melbourne, just on a smaller scale – being on the waterside and the way of life with how the people are so friendly. It’s a really relaxed atmosphere and I love it already.
It’s just me down here at the moment as my fiancé is still living up north, but she’s been down for her first visit this week and she’s looking forward to moving here.
Bailey Wright was speaking to Mark Perrow for WellRed. To submit your question to our next feature interviewee, keep an eye out on Twitter @bcfctweets in the days leading up to every home game.
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