Sunday, 11 December 2011

2011, down sticks

The final whistle fell on the 2011 portion of our campaign, leaving us six points clear at the top, number one being the only position we've filled all season. It's a source of great satisfaction but underneath the smiles is the cold realisation that this is only half time really, and though we may have the advantage now that can all change if we take our foot off the gas. That was the worry with our last game really, with a new six point gap at stake we felt more secure than ever at the top but that's where complacency strikes hardest. It struck yesterday in a confusing way. We were simultaneously complacent and nervous and in the opening half of the game it really showed. On the sidelines we were worried, on the pitch we were frustrated. But, we weathered the storm as always and despite a poor (by our standards) half we went in 3-0 up, not exactly the apocalypse I think you'll agree.

The second half passed much smoother (well, not for Neils wrist) and we came away 6-0 victors. Happy ending right? Well, not really is the answer. Most of the players though it was a poor game and we didn't show up. The feeling was that we were saved somewhat by the tactic of our opposition playing only two older, slower defenders at the back, that combination is always going to struggle to contain our pace. Perhaps it was the case that we struggled due to the high pressure in the midfield and the physical nature of the tackling, that took us out of our step. Well, that's something we're going to have to deal with. We've played everyone now and there are no surprises left for us to spring, they know how we play and if they play to contain us then that is something we have to deal with. The fact that they played to stop us playing and we scored six goals and conceded none should hopefully serve as warning to other teams that want to turn up and come at us with that effort, you might stop us enjoying ourselves but you won't stop us winning!

In my opinion it wasn't a classic encounter for us but there nerves played a big part, the desire to hold that gap for Christmas was maybe a little too heavy in the mind. I do believe that descriptions of it being our 2nd or 3rd worst performance of the season are a bit harsh, as it overlooks the things we did well, like beating our frustration and turning it into goals rather than turning on each other. The harshness of our collective verdict on ourselves says to me that maybe, just maybe, the Christmas break has come at exactly the right time. It allows us to wind down and take stock of where we are, where we want to be, and not allow ourselves to boil over with unnecessary frustration. We are the best team after all!

I'll also just quickly echo the words of coach in terms of maintaining fitness over the break. It is important but none of us are professional athletes and frankly I'll certainly be enjoying a mince pie and a selection box (that's right selection box, who cares if I'm a grown man) or two in the break. It's up to each player in the squad to balance the needs of himself with that of the team. I'm not going to spout off any nonsense about sacrifices and all of that, we do this for fun and none of us are Jesus (although now I think about it several of our players have at one point or another looked like him, Nick is currently our resident Jesus). Anyway that's it for me in terms of talking about our games until the new year, but I will be back later in the week with my Christmas special Champagne and Turkey moments blog, if you've got any late suggestions just drop me a message.

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