They say football (indeed most, if not all, sports) is at least as much mental as physical. I think we’ll find out a lot about our squad on Saturday. You might say we already know a great deal as since the takeover there has been no questioning the resolve, determination and character of the players, newcomers or not. No arguments there. Just that we know we will be going into the Portsmouth game in a state of some adversity, given injuries and suspensions, up against the league’s leading scorers on the back of three consecutive wins of their own.
While four consecutive wins and five clean sheets in a row would suggest a high level of confidence, we’ve yet to see how the revamped team will react to going behind in a game. The reaction to the setback of Innis’ sending off was excellent, but we had something to defend and there was no need to chase the game. Sooner or later, unfortunately, we are going to concede a goal; you don’t have five clean sheets in a row without some luck (in addition to very good defending and goalkeeping).
Also, we’ve been playing two games a week for some time now and some might be feeling it, while to the injury list of Pearce, Oshilaja and Gilbey there’s the terrible addition of Alfie Doughty, for at least four months according to Lee Bowyer. And of course for the next game we will be without Watson and Innis, two leaders on the pitch, due to suspension.
This could sound like setting up excuses for failure. On the contrary, it’s to stress that these things shouldn’t be used as such. It’s up to others to step up to the plate and make damned sure that there’s no let-up and to Bowyer and his team to make sure that the attitude is once more spot on.