Different Approach Means Players Must Learn To Take It On The Chin
Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Thursday, 3rd December 2009
Fans Forum chief Gareth Ekin gives us his latest column
They say a week is a long time in football and in our case it really was. A woeful win at home to Portsmouth, booing fans and a starting line-up that had everyone baffled, we then go to Blackburn with a positive performance and the first signs that Pulis will make the big decisions that we have all wanted him to make, with Lawrence replacing Delap and Wilkinson playing fullback. A point was the least we deserved in what some pundits billed as a drab affair, when in actual fact it was a game with plenty of opportunities for each side to break the deadlock.
Poor old Tuncay had to settle for another 7 minute cameo though and with Pulis saying that he will not rush Beattie back now that Sidibe is available, you wonder when he will get his chance. With the fixture list backing up in the Christmas and New Year period and yellow card suspensions looming, you would hope that it would not be too far off when we see him start a league game.
It is not an enviable job being a football manager and you have to try and keep everyone happy all of the time. It will ultimately be the squad that pulls us through this season and not the 11 that take the field. We have three difficult away games coming up this month and two very winnable home games, arguably it could be the best time to go and get a result on Saturday with Arsenal playing midweek, losing against Chelsea and last night against Man City.
Pulis needs to ensure that whoever he calls upon to take to the pitch, they are 100% behind the team, have the confidence within themselves and are ready to go and do whatever is required of them. It is a very difficult task as I am sure certain players are as frustrated at not playing as the fans are who are watching. The best motivation for a player is to go out there and prove they can do a job and that they will stay in the team. Take Andy Wilkinson for instance, a man of the match winning performance at Portsmouth followed by retaining his place in the back four against Blackburn at the expense of captain Abdoulaye Faye.
Hopefully January will see more selection headaches for Pulis with the influx of a few more players to add to the squad and increase competition for places. But for the moment, I think that we will see a few players being chopped and changed around as the three away games we have coming up will see three very different approaches by Pulis. We have to ensure that the players we have are big enough to take it on the chin.