Don’t get me wrong folks, last night wasn’t a good watch, and you have every reason to be thoroughly disappointed with the performance and result, however any overreaction would be unwise at this stage.
Perspective really is needed here. We’re 10 games in and are sitting 9th in the table – closer to the top four than we are to the relegation zone! I think most of us would have bitten your hand off to be in such a stable position a quarter of the way into the new season – especially given the negativity that followed our underwhelming summer transfer window and opening two defeats to Spurs and Huddersfield.
Admittedly, last night did show up our glaring lack of quality in the final third – and not for the first time this season in fairness – but this was always going to come back to haunt us. Considering his hands were fairly well tied, Rafa looks to have made some pretty shrewd signings, but we knew that the players we brought in over the summer (especially our offensive signings) weren’t established Premier League players and were lacking in genuine quality and cutting edge.
A few months ago, if someone had asked you where we’d be after 10 games if we fail to sign a proven striker, don’t bring in a new number 10 and have our big money wide man (Murphy) barely feature, then I can almost guarantee the outlook would be so much bleaker than 9th in the table.
It has been frustrating to see us look so toothless in the 1-0 away defeats to Huddersfield, Brighton and Burnley, but lets not forget what we’ve loved about our new-look NUFC so far this season.
We’ve shown the sort of organisation, determination and desire that we’ve been sorely lacking for so many years in the top flight and we’ve always found a way to stay in games, even when we’re playing badly. We may never look like hammering teams, but we must take real positives from the fact we never looked like being turned over either – a big sign that we’ll be ok this season.
For now, this team may lack quality – an issue that will hopefully be addressed in January – but for what we currently lack in ability, we make up for in discipline, togetherness and fight.
Last night it didn’t go our way, and rightly so, but this is what will happen until Benitez is armed with the tools to improve the quality of our squad.
Games will be tight – some will go our way, others won’t, but at least it won’t be down to a lack of effort – something we couldn’t say and couldn’t bare during spells of the McClaren and Pardew eras!
Palace at home was a prime example. We weren’t good at all that day and a draw would’ve been a fair result, but we dug in and got the win. So perspective is needed here. We could have easily drawn our last two 0-0 and picked up two points in the process, but as it turns out, we’ve won one (Palace) and lost one (Burnley) – giving us more points than two draws would have.
As we’ve seen, we’ll win some and we’ll lose some when you pair a mediocre squad with a world-class manager.
Back to last night. People have every right to be quite underwhelmed by our performance – which is probably the big concern here – with certain individuals showing a real lack of quality, but lets not overreact. If Perez hadn’t of lost the ball in a silly area last night and one of our shots had gone in, we’d be 6th in the Premier League and lapping it up!
It’s not like Burnley turned us over. Like Rafa said, as poor as we were, it could have actually gone either way in the end.
Does Joselu need dropping? Probably. Does Perez need to up his game? Yes. But both still put in a shift for the team, so we should probably think twice about vilifying them if we still believe in the motto ‘we don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a team that tries’?
Improvements are needed on Saturday and a few players do need to up their game, but for once, I have faith in this group to pull their socks up and put it right against Bournemouth.
In the mean time, keep the faith. We’re still in the top half and have shown more than enough to suggest we’ll stay up – our main aim of the season, remember?