I’m starting to get the feeling that our current position atop the Premier League may have given us a false sense of perspective of our current squad. I’m always against unnecessarily criticising the players, fans or club, particularly when we should be enjoying our most recent victory, but I think we need to remind ourselves that there are 37 more games to go.
Nigel Reo-Coker has hit out at the pundits who had written off our chances before the start of the season. He focused on the lack of insight into the mindset of the players they were critiquing and lambasted their opinion-based rather than ‘informed’ journalism. In fairness to the hack in question – Terry Venables – he was being asked for his opinion and to forecast the results of a team before the season had got underway, and its not hard to see why he took a punt on us being possible relegation fodder.
Our tiny squad had been reduced to bare bones after the summer exodus and money at the ‘Bok is always tight. Indeed, of the 4 new players in this season only £3million has been spent despite recouping roughly £7million in transfers-out and shifting some of the top earners from the wage bill. Given that a third of our goals last season were scored by Sturridge and Elmander who have yet to be substantively replaced, and that we leaked in 56 goals even with our prized central defender Gary Cahill, it is not hard to reason why ‘El Tel’ may have fancied us for the drop.
In addition to this, in our first 7 games we face the two automatic promotion teams who pose an unknown and spirited threat, but also 5 of the top 6 teams of last year. Arguably we could find ourselves in the middle of October in single figures. OK – we will have a string of kinder fixtures after this but to be successful you need momentum and consistency. Stumbling out into November with a handful of points and with little form, would not put us in a strong position to face teams we would be looking to beat.
As it turns out we actually recorded a strong win against QPR and, as lots of people have pointed out, gave them a lesson in the cruelty of the Premiership. However, this is not the time for us to breathe a sigh of relief and think that we’ll be fine this year. I don’t want to see stories with players saying the pundits got it wrong and Kevin Davies saying Klasnic will provide enough firepower for our limited striking options.
I’ve adopted this stance to underline my opinion that we could suffer if we don’t add to the squad and build on the developments already made. In truth, I fancy that there are at least half a dozen teams that look more susceptible to relegation than ourselves, but for at least the next 6 games and the rest of the transfer window I want a siege-mentality and at least 3 new players!