I don’t know if I’m reading too much into the game on Friday but what struck me was the lack of confidence on display, which was the most disappointing thing of all.
This was against the back-drop of full-blown positivity and support from the fans going into the season, after the club finally scrapped their ridiculous transfer policy – or should I say business policy – and appointed one of the most decorated managers in the game.
In terms of weaknesses, I think everyone has noted a new left-back is needed but it looks like Brendan Galloway has all but signed for a season long loan, frankly we need Colback out of the team ASAP because he – like Dummett – really slows the game down. Colback also gives away free-kick after free-kick, whether it be tugging shirts or getting caught out by pace. They are both only of any use if the team are playing with their backs against the wall with little possession – something which hopefully shouldn’t be the case for most of the season.
But I believe Shelvey, Diame (who can also play no.10) or even Saivet can come in and instantly improve us in that area. Up front a physical striker would help a lot. I personally wouldn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket and say Mitrovic will be that striker we need, add another one and they will all get their fair share of games.
The biggest thing we need though is for the players just to simply relax, show some confidence and stop over thinking things. They clearly struggled with the pressure of a relegation battle last season but if they can’t handle the pressure of being many people’s favourites in the Championship, then they really shouldn’t be here.
Some players were on their heels against Fulham, not anticipating and playing in a very reserved fashion. Lads, it’s a game of football, it actually isn’t life or death. I’m tempted to say get over yourselves.
If the players do give their heads a shake then we’ll be fine. We still managed to create good chances against Fulham despite the performance. The game against Huddersfield is heading towards a full house as I write and in 2009/10 the players were dominant at St. James Park – I could see the opposition were regularly mentally beaten within the first 10 minutes.
It’s down to the current players to play with the same confidence, hunger and dominance and their ability will come through. It’s also down to us to create a wall of noise and do our bit.
Bring on Saturday.