Now, let’s see, where were we …?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 20 June 2020 at 9:53am
Written by : Jonathan Lee
So, ladies and gents, we get back underway again this Saturday – although under a completely different format with none of us physically present in the stands to support the boys. But where were we exactly when everything came to a shuddering halt?
Make no mistake, our first 29 games of the season have to be judged as poor. We’re on 27 points and out of the bottom three only on goal difference. As ever, momentum is a huge thing for teams and our last seven games chalked up five defeats (Leicester, Man City, Liverpool twice, Arsenal), one draw (that agonising slip up at home against Brighton) and one win (Southampton). So, perhaps, the break might have worked in our favour.
Four points from a possible 21 was by no means great, but there were buds emerging despite such a statistically poor run. A brave showing at Anfield and a defeat at Arsenal ,which both deserved at least a point, plus the impressive defeat of Southampton being the arguable highlights.
Jarrod Bowen looked hungry and genuine quality; Pablo Fornals had started to produce more consistent performances including that glorious finish at Liverpool; Seb Haller looked more comfortable with the support of Antonio and Bowen; ahead of his injury Tomas Soucek looked a proper unit in midfield; Angelo Ogbonna was in a rich vein of form at the back; and Declan was becoming ever more consistent plus also a threat going forward.
But this is new territory now for all the playing squad. Us writers and fans who were used to playing every week back in the day (or still are for the younger amongst us) with nobody around on a common somewhere in London would be just fine kicking about in an empty stadium, but make no mistake; for a WHU player who is used to running out to a fanfare of bubbles in front of 60,000 adoring fans, the experience for some will be mentally tough, while others may perversely up their game without the pressure or expectation of the crowd on their backs, possibly a player like Felipe Anderson. One thing is for sure though, come out pointless against Wolves, Spurs and Chelsea and we are staring ominously down the barrel. A win from one of these three games would be very welcome just to ease that pressure slightly. But we are going to see some odd results across the board, that is for sure, given such wholesale changes for players on a match day where there may no longer be any tangible home advantage.
And now, of course, we are looking at 90 minutes potentially involving 16 players rather than 14, so the subs’ bench will suddenly become as important as the starting XI with nine subs now allowed to be named, a chance perhaps for one or two unlikely heroes to make their mark, or for some players to come back revitalised, such as Lanzini or Yarmolenko.
Sadly none of us will be there to witness it live, but let’s get our collective souls and spirit together and generate some mental positivity to the players (in addition to the usual social media channels as well, of course !), they might just need it … COYI