“On Saturday, aside from the obvious, the players need to believe that they can get a result. Not a nervous, hopeful anticipation of a result, but a solid, confident belief in securing the 3 points.”
I’m not a religious man, I never have been. I don’t believe in luck, karma, curses or fate. In fact, spend just 10 minutes having a theological debate with me and I’ll either leave you questioning everything you’ve ever believed or (perhaps more likely) questioning why you were ever friends with me in the first place. As Billy Zane said in Titanic, “A real man makes his own luck.” Now that’s a philosophy I can cling to; and he was the bad guy…
This season is beginning to turn me though. Zola was famous for blaming results on bad luck. Cotterill’s ground-breaking theories of “if they hadn’t scored, they wouldn’t have won” essentially boil down to a discussion of fortune and, even though he was smart enough not to use the excuse, the boys suffered more adversity in the Boro game with a goal line scramble sealing our fate. There’s that word again, “fate.”
So are we fated to go down? Have we just been victims of misfortune this season? Will our luck change? I think we’ll find out the answers to these questions on Saturday. There are still a few more cup finals to go but losing to Hull could be a huge, driving nail in our coffin. Hull demolished Ipswich on Tuesday and have suddenly found form, rising from 20th to 17th whilst chasing their own survival. The Tigers will certainly roar their way into St Andrews at the weekend and it may take something special to stop them. Maybe even a little bit of mythical assistance.
Now, I’m not suggesting Garry Monk opts for a classic 4-4-3 formation with Johnny Fortune up front and Davey McHorsehoe and Peter Rabbitsfoot on the wings, but as Billy Zane said, maybe we need to make our own luck.
In a recent post on Twitter, Vincent Kompany claimed “Less empty seats leads to a better atmosphere, which in turn affects testosterone levels and territorial behaviour in players, therefore increasing home advantage.” I can only imagine Vinnie K is thinking back to his days at Anderlecht since Man City fans tend to dress as sky blue empty seats, but the point is valid. A full stadium is a fortress and not only is it uplifting for the lads on the pitch, but it can be massively intimidating for the opposition.
Tickets are selling out rapidly for Saturday, helped largely by the minimal price point. Can we all just take a minute to appreciate how impressive that is though, regardless of price. We’re 22nd, one of the favourites for the drop, didn’t buy a soul in January and we sacked 3 managers in a year, yet we’re almost selling out home games and our away support is consistently phenomenal. With a crowd like that, WE will be the lucky pennies. Once our voices join in unison, WE will be the four-leaf clover. We will be the real men (and women) making our own luck and if that can’t lift the team, then nothing will.
The power of positive thinking is not something I generally subscribe to, but it’s what we need right now. We have indeed been unfortunate this season. Little flick ons and deflections have cost us, injuries have crippled us and someone up there has taken great pleasure in kicking us whilst we’re down. Maybe its all Karma for Carson’s criminality? I don’t care what anyone says though, this bunch of players are good enough to stay in the Championship. Hell, they’re probably good enough to push for the playoffs next season with a few tweaks here and there. Nevertheless, Garry needs to get their heads straight. It’s all well and good referring to Saturday as a cup final, but we need to see the guys PLAY like it is.
Luck aside, The Blues have been poor this year, no one’s naive enough to deny that. Perhaps our biggest enemy this year has been ourselves though. The almighty slump we’re in is relatively undeserved and we are better than our position in the table suggests. However, the longer this downward spiral continues, the more the boys seem to be kicking themselves. It’s up to Garry to pump the brakes and bring this nightmarish journey to a screeching halt. The players are good enough to survive this onslaught of turmoil. Monk and his team surely believe this otherwise they’d never have taken the job. We surely believe this otherwise we’d stop turning up in our thousands every week. It’s time the players started to believe it too. I mean REALLY believe it. Let’s get back to basics, back to believing and back to where we belong.
No one backed us to beat Arsenal in the League Cup, but we believed. No one backed us to win a penalty shootout in the playoff final (based on our track record) but we believed. No one expected us to take Liverpool to penalties in 2001, but we believed. Even as a nipper, I didn’t think we’d win the Auto Windscreens Shield, but we believed. And you better believe that if he had his time again Paul Tait would rip his top off to reveal THAT shirt every time!
So on Saturday, aside from the obvious, the players need to believe that they can get a result. Not a nervous, hopeful anticipation of a result, but a solid, confident belief in securing the 3 points. A firm winning mentality is not something Stevie C could ever install in the guys and maybe that horse has already bolted and taken his lucky shoes with him, but Monk is a different, refreshing character. One only needs to look at his interviews and interactions on social media to know that he and his team have come here to succeed and they don’t intend on going down without a fight. The reintroduction of Paul Robinson will also be a much valued kick up the arse in the dressing room and a real driving force of determination and grit on the pitch. If that mentality can rub off on the players and if us fans manage to create a formidable attitude, then maybe all the players need to worry about is black cats and stepping in cracks…
By Mark Watson