Date: 2nd November 2009 at 11:50am
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Most of us are still in shock about the weekend – not so much that we won, as I think LOTS of us expected this, but more the manor of it! Today has seen the reaction continue with plenty in The News, this is some…

Smith unlucky, but Hart lucky…

Going into the game many saw the main questions about ‘who came into the side’ limited to just 1 or 2 people – the striker options seemed to be would it be Tommy Smith or Freddy P and a midfield dilemma of Aaron Mokoena or Michael Brown?

All in all, whilst I feel Smith was unlucky to dip out, Paul Hart’s decision on Freddy P seems the right one but Hart feels he is ‘lucky’ to be able to leave a player like Smith out: ‘Tommy’s been excellent, just like Danny Webber when he’s had an opportunity,’ said Hart. He’s worked tirelessly and been absolutely brilliant.

‘When I signed him I read somewhere that he’s a Championship player but the boy’s proved more than anyone else that he’s a Premier League player.

‘I’ve got a team of players who are hungry to keep their shirt and that’s a good position to be in.

‘It’s a timely reminder that there is competition here.’

I like Smith, and I am sure that he will be fighting to get back in, and this is not a bad thing for us at all!

I think Hart is an ‘old school’ manager in his thinking, back in the day – granted squads were much smaller – it was players ‘in possession of the shirt’ that kept them if they played well, and after evaluating the question put to him Hart was right to go for who he did, and is right to stick with those that are playing. Should they drop down a notch then with others knocking on the door they could come back in…


A victory for the gaffer!

It was clearly visible, as it has been for some time, just how much the squad are united and how much they are behind Hart and he behind them – none more so with the reaction shown after Freddy P’s goal in particular at the weekend.

Younes Kaboul, who again had a fantastic game alongside Marc Wilson – with them forming a really good partnership, was quick to ‘dedicate’ this victory to Hart: ‘there is pressure on the manager and pressure at the club, but that’s football. If we are doing well on the pitch only good things will happen.

‘We are all behind the manager – everyone – and we are happy for him. He does everything for us and we have to give everything back.

‘The manager deserves the best. He helps us every day so we have to give it back on the pitch.

‘We are happy for the rest of the staff and the fans, too. I’m happy for them as well.’

I think Younes sums things up perfectly really – as I said you can see how united this squad is, so long as we keep this I am sure the rest will take care of itself, although there is only so much off the field rubbish that can be taken, so fingers crossed we have seen that last of it…

Younes was also quick to point out how important the win was and how damaging another defeat would have been, as well as putting praise on the strikers – although he says that he never had any doubts over Aruna Dindane anyway!


Good news on injured duo?

The only sour note to the weekend win were injuries to Steve Finnan and Freddy P, although Hart feels that neither are serious injuries and hopes to have them back for the game at Blackburn this weekend: ‘Fred took a knock on the back of the neck and he was startled for a little while, but he’s fine.

‘Steve picked up a bit of a strain in the groin area.

‘He doesn’t think it’s too bad, but we will have to give it time to settle down to see how it is.’

Speaking about players in possession on the shirt, as I did earlier, well Nadir Belhadj once again did his chances no harm. I thought he was really good against Stoke, but was also equally as good in his time on the pitch against Wigan so he may well have done enough to keep his place in the side this weekend with Tal Ben-Haim, who had his best game to date, looking more at home as a right back.

Belhadj finally seems to learned how to tackle and not to take risks unnecessarily – in both games recently he has adopted the ‘if in doubt’ policy, also putting in proper tackles, not the sort of tackles more fitting to the egg chasing lot! The beauty is he seems to have done this without losing his attacking threat, which he seemed to have lost earlier in the season when things were not going so well for him…

The MAIN thing that we now do is make this win count, so lets go to Blackburn at the weekend and look to get something – I just hope that Hart does not go ultra defensive again a la Hull the other week!

Why not go into that game with a similar mindset to the one we showed against Wigan? Set up with a 4-4-2 as we do have the players available to switch this to a 4-5-1 if needed…


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