It hasn’t die down has it? I’m pretty sure you’re the same as me and we’re still feeling on top of the world after Sunday’s marvelous comeback win against our bitter rival.
I have to be perfectly honest. While I was expecting us to put on a performance and had hopes of us winning the match, I was not expecting it to be by a 3 goal margin. I was fully expecting to concede 4th place to Chelsea temporarily at least. Thankfully we didn’t. 12 games remain of the fixture list before the Premier League closes it’s curtain for 2011/12 campaign.
Then there’s those ahead of us. With 15 and 17 points separating us from the top two, I fully concede that we won’t be able to overtake them. Miracle, if that really happen. The best outcome in terms of the league from this point onwards, is 3rd. That is where the losers from Sunday sits. Sp*rs are 7 points ahead of us and given how the league has gone this season, that’s a very catch-able gap.
There’s no doubt that that is our sole target from now until the end of the season. Not unless we can overcome 4 goal deficit against AC Milan next week. A 12 match unbeaten run is not hard but a 12 match winning run is difficult. The latter is what some would call championship winning form. Something that we would not be able to align ourselves with this season, at the least.
Yet, by remaining undefeated for the next 12 league games, I’m sure we will find our way one step higher than where we are now. That’s because I believe both Chelsea and Sp*rs will drop points and also lose some games between now and the end of the season. Chelsea have tough encounters away to Manchester City, home to Sp*rs, away to Fulham, away to us and away to Liverpool. Meanwhile I wondered if Sp*rs are able to take all 3 points from their matches against Manchester United at home, away at Everton, away at Chelsea and away at Sunderland.
That’s not to say we have an easy ride until the end of the season. We start it with a difficult away trip to Anfield and still have to visit Merseyside later to face Everton. There’s the home ties against Chelsea and Manchester City while not forgetting that trip to the Britannia. We have to do our part and not worry about how the others are doing. If we win all our remaining games, we will at least have a Champions League qualifier to worry about come August.
The team has been beset by consistency problems all season long. Sunday showed what the team is capable of. Even when faced with adversity (at 2-0 down against your rival in your own stadium is considered one), we have managed to show the resolve and desire to rise against it. The team needs to realise and see their own potential. They must grasp the idea that they do indeed belong among the upper echelons of club football.
They must realise that they will get no where without effort. Sunday was an effort. We pulled ourselves together as a team despite going behind so early in the game. We pressured the opposition and we chased after every ball not fearing that we might be second to the ball but showing the desire to be first to the ball. The best of teams goes no where and wins no trophy without putting in their fair shift.
The worry is that such performances are only induced by the presence of bigger teams or in a derby. On the evidence of recent seasons (including this one), it is hard to argue with that. Provided we applied ourselves the same for every single game, I’m sure we could achieve the target. There should not be a single thought that goes through the player’s mind thinking that a particular is a walk in the park.
And that is where the supposed leaders of the team comes in. As captain, Robin Van Persie takes most of the responsibilities. He leads by action on the field. He drags his team along with him with those 29 goals that he has scored this season. However, I think his contribution is more than that. I don’t have the privilege of watching any warm-up session but from some short videos/gifs, it is obvious that he also leads by providing advise. It is clear that the team listen to him as well.
The perfect example of his leadership off the pitch can be seen in that post match video together with Theo Walcott. Shrugging off a question from the interviewer, he went on praising Walcott. This captain is hearing what the fans/critics say and is responding to them. The live show of support to one of the maligned players in the squad (not my opinion but those who needed a different figure after the departure of Andrey Arshavin) will surely be remembered by Walcott.
It would have built up their camaraderie even more and earn a lot more respect from Walcott’s perspective. That makes acceptance of advice much easier to go down. I’m not saying Walcott is someone who doesn’t like to listen to advise. I’m just saying that while Walcott should not be roundly criticised like he was a week ago, he does have his flaws. And now, RvP has some leverage to made him listen to advise.
Seeing as some players are jetting out of London Colney to join up with their respective national sides, my only wish is the one and only. Please, please do not get injured.