Chris Eagles is enjoying the attention!
CHRIS Eagles is relishing being one of the Championship’s marked men.
The gifted wideman is being targeted by opponents week after week, doubling up on the on-song 24-year-old and subjecting him to some rough treatment.
But while he takes it as an acknowledgment of his ability, he wishes teams would be more positive, and cause him problems defensively, rather than just trying to stop him playing.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Coventry, he said: “It is a compliment but they’ve got to play their own game.
It’s an 11-man team. If they take me out of the game I don’t mind taking two out, it means we’ve got one more spare.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve always concentrated on ourselves, and that’s why we’ve been successful.
“With the squad we’ve got, we’ve got very creative players, so, for example, if the gaffer asked me to man-mark someone I don’t think I’d be able to do it, because I’d be wanting to get on the ball and go the other way.
“That’s why we have three in midfield, whether it’s Graham Alexander, Dean Marney, Wade (Elliott), Corky (Jack Cork).
“They do the blocking or the man-marking if you like in the middle.”
And he added: “When we play away there are two players on me and they’re not playing their own game, which gets frustrating because I’m trying to create stuff for the team and I’m getting kicked. It’s off the ball as well that people don’t see, when the ball’s on the other side they’ll give you a punch or a kick or something like that.
“I’ve turned round at Millwall and tapped him on his head and got booked for it.
“I’ve got to expect it and that’s when you’ve got to rise above it and smile, which most of the time I do but at QPR it got to the point where it was getting ridiculous – the amount of penalty claims that I had and they didn’t even see them.”
Most of the time Eagles has shrugged off the niggles - and thrived on it.
But he was taken off at half-time at QPR after becoming frustrated at a lack of protection, and he is determined to keep his cool under provocation: “It was tough because in the first half I got a couple of kicks.
“It was hard because the referee thought I’d dived in the box, which I didn’t, I went through and I would have shot if I was on my feet. It happened a couple more times and I started to get a bit angry, my head was going and I’d got booked.
“It was hard in the sense that I thought my temper was in my past. But the ref came in at half-time and said ‘Chris will get sent off if there’s one more thing’ so the gaffer said ‘I can’t afford to lose you’ so he decided to bring me off and I think Ross went on.
“It was my fault in a way because I was losing my head and I was late on a challenge.
“I think it’s a good learning curve.
“I don’t think about it.
“I’ve always had sort of a snap inside me.
“You’ve got to look beyond the moment and think about the next game because you don’t want a three-match ban because that’s a long time in football, especially if they’re only Saturday games. That’s three weeks and you’re losing fitness.”
Eagles comes up against his former boss Adrian Boothroyd tomorrow, with whom he helped win promotion with Watford to the Premier League.
Eagles looked back: “When I was there we got promoted that season.
“I was there for five months at the back end of that season and we went up to the Premier League.
“Aidy’s quite young and when I was there he was a bit like Owen Coyle was here – very enthusiastic and into his fun and games.
“As time went on I think he changed.
“I obviously haven’t seen what he’s been like at Coventry, but I respect him for what he did and he was a great help to me.