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Do The Players Care?

10 years ago

“Our fans have travelled all the way down here, they had high expectations of this team for this year and quite rightly. We are going to need them now.”

This was our manager’s comment following our third straight Premier League defeat. A few poor results I can take. The manner of these defeats however worries me much more than three points.

As a group of supporters, in general, we aren’t perfect. There are grumbles, moans and boos when things aren’t going our way, and sometimes too much back patting and cheering when things are. This is football. Fickle and emotive. I like to think I can stay relatively level headed about it, in reality…

I do know that on the field the players are lacking in confidence, so does Pardew. He seems to think it is the supporter’s job to raise morale and give the players the confidence to perform at their potential.

I know that it is his job.

He simply must get the players he has available playing as some sort of team, he has to get them playing football, scoring goals and winning matches…and he must do it by Wednesday evening.

It’s not good enough for him to say we are struggling with injuries. He knew the demands this season would bring before the window closed in August. He knew that it was unlikely for us to stay as injury-free as last season. Yet Vernon Anita and Gael Bigrimana were the only players of note to come into our squad. So if he is going to blame a lack of squad depth for our form, he may as well blame himself.

Last season’s good results did a lot to paper over cracks in our ability to play football. In hindsight, honestly, how many good footballing performances were put in last season? Much talk was made about ball retention and playing attack minded exciting football to get the fans off their seats. In reality, we have played the most long balls of any team this season. Scoring few goals (one in the last three) and conceding too many (five in the last three).

Again, I can stomach the level of football being below par. But after we went a goal down today, who could see us coming back in to the game? We are bereft of ideas, have no shape and most worryingly have no determination or fight in our team.

Do the players care if we win or not? From their body language, it looks like not. There was much talk of team spirit and togetherness last season, when things were going well. It is now that we need to see some togetherness, fight and a refusal to be beaten.

We are rolling over for teams of late, it can’t continue. Or that eight year contract might not seem like such a good idea. Fickle…

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