As we look back on last weekend’s defeat to Southampton, it’s easy to point the finger of blame in a number of different directions. Having crumbled in such quick-fire fashion at the beginning of the second half, there are many who feel that a lack of team spirit is to blame for our troubles, with Ian Holloway on the receiving end of criticism over a perceived inability to motivate the players sufficiently for the task at hand.
With rumours of a half-time falling out between Dean Moxey and Marouane Chamakh being given credence by the reports in one or two national papers yesterday, it seems as if Holloway may have had a job of hands diffusing a potential fight during the interval, let alone getting his thoughts on our performance across to the team, which in truth would go some way to explaining our lacklustre start to the second period.
It seems that Moxey felt aggrieved at Chamakh’s decision to fall to the floor before Boruc had made contact and told him as much shortly after the incident occurred. I didn’t see it at the time, but according to those who did, a minor shoving match then ensued, with the pair intent on continuing their confrontation in the dressing room once the half-time whistle had sounded.
For what it’s worth, I’m sure that scenarios such as this one take place up and down the country on a weekly basis, only to be kept firmly in-house rather than being aired out in public. Although emotions were undoubtedly running high between the two at the time, it will almost certainly have blown over by now, with my only real concern being how the press came to learn of the details surrounding their half-time row.
Since the result, Jimmy Kebe, Barry Bannan and Chamakh himself have spoken to the press about our performance, with all three sounding surprisingly buoyant about the next few games, despite our recent poor form. In all of their comments, there were regular references made to the need for us to cut individual errors out of our game, with split second lapses in concentration having cost us dearly in both of our last fixtures.
Whilst the rapid manner in which we conceded both goals at St Mary’s put a stop to any ambitions we held of returning to London with points in our back pocket, there were certainly positives to take from our first-half display, with our general shape seemingly far more structured from a defensive perspective, even though we failed to pose any serious threat to the Southampton goal.
As we begin to build towards next weekend’s game against Liverpool, it feels as if the manner of our performance will dictate the mood of our fan base to a far greater extent than the result itself. Given the Reds start to the season under the guidance of Brendan Rogers, it would be a tad foolish to expect a team in our current form to upset the apple cart, but for most there is a basic desire to see the team fight as one, regardless of the scoreline.
Obviously a positive result would send everyone home with somewhat stunned grins on their faces next weekend, but when taking into account our current predicament, it’s imperative that we return from our trip to the North West with an element of pride in our performance.
The sense of deflation amongst our support is not simply a consequence of the losses we’ve accumulated, it’s thanks in the most part, to a perceived lack of fight within the team. As soon as that element of our play returns, so too will the full and unequivocal backing of our supporters. We don’t demand a great deal in the way of finesse, but we do expect an unerring commitment to the cause from every player who represents us. With a bit of luck, it won’t be long before we see that side of our club reappear.