Written by: Jonathan Lee
Albert Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Let’s hope on Saturday MP realises it’s time for a change.
The periods either side of an international break are interesting affairs; you either hate the break or welcome it with open arms, and on returning there is a tendency for either same old or a new approach. For us the matter seems pretty clear – on the back of 2 points from our last six league games the break was very opportune and you only hope that both the manager and the players have used the time wisely to reflect on their tactics and performances, as if we carry on in the same manner through to Xmas we really are going to be in deep bother.
Of course, the next set of games are by no means easy – even if we were coming off the back of a good run – but Saturday’s game has now been racked up a tad by the appointment of Jose, and what often happens with a new appointment is a response from the team looking to impress their new boss. Add to that the worrying stat that Spurs have not won an away game since a 1-0 win at Fulham back in January plus are overdue to have a good result against us, and you start getting a horrible sinking feeling in your stomach – that said we generally perform well against Spurs and our crowd usually also increase their volume levels.
For MP, any extension of the current bad run we’re on will surely test the patience of the Board. If the team continue playing poorly – and it’s performance in many ways rather than results that matter. There is no real shame in losing to Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal teams but there is if you don’t put in a display or some heart – and you cannot replace 10 or 11 players in the market, so it’s the management team who have to be sacrificed. The press rumour mill in recent days have been keen to suggest that Benitez would be interested in returning from China to take up a role he so nearly took a couple of years back. Sadly, we do not have a squad of such depth that MP can simply pick his supporting second string to replace so far underperforming players, and the likes of Anderson, Yarmo, Haller, Rice will all need to pick up their games again, Antonio will need to hit the ground running (no pun intended !) while, if selected, Fornals and Wilshere will both need to up their games considerably. At the back many suspect MP will keep faith with Roberto despite his recent high profile errors, whilst most supporters feel Ogbonna’s time to return is now overdue and Arthur is possibly due a recall.
But after the season recommences, against one of our bitterest and dearest enemies, no supporter can (or should) tolerate an MP team that goes out onto the field with no passion, no ideas, no pace, and no willingness to do the hard yards in getting the grip on a game in which, make no mistake, the away players will be fired up with Jose’s words ringing in their ears. In many ways MP has made something of a rod for his own back and created himself a classic Catch-22: fail to turn up and lose pitifully against both Spurs and Chelsea and the supporters will rip him apart, contrastingly do well against those teams and both he and the squad will be accused of only being up for the big games, but it is of course the latter scenario that we require at this moment in time, and in a perfect world that would lead onto another decent spell of results.