State Of The Nation
We all know how much the regular international breaks at this time of year piss us off,and actually it has little to do with the fact that few of us have any interest there. No,much of it is because of one simple fact.
International breaks,especially ones as regular as we are having,simply destroy any momentum that we may have. Any continuity,any developing understanding between new team mates.
Conversely,this one may work a little in our favour,as we have comparatively few players on international duty,and so AP might even have a chance to get some quality coaching time with his players. Consider the facts-since the season kicked off,a mere three weeks into his tenure,it has been solid two games a week routines. Read that as day off for recovery,day coaching,day preparing to play.
Could you do your job in a high pressure environment by working one day in three? Personally I can’t see me ever being asked that question for real,but you get my drift.
AP will have a chance to work for some time with the right side of our defence,with a view to tightening up with Ralston and CCV and maybe Welsh,reminding the latter that he is still in the plans. Have a bit of defensive coaching with Monti and Boli. Allow GT to integrate without pushing his injury.
I expect words of encouragement for the likes of G-Mac,with specialised coaching on his finishing,sharpness and fitness. Maybe some positioning to get on the end of crosses from our two young full backs,or Jota. But of course,I’ve said before that our main problem at the moment is that our midfield is not providing the ammo up front,nor protecting the defence when needed.
I think all of our midfield choices this season are on international duty,so they canny be that pish! But I’d much prefer they had some time being thoroughly coached by AP,listening,absorbing his instructions. Dunno what their international managers do,but I suspect it involves letting them faff about on the PlayStation all day.
These are things I am confident that AP will be using this fortnight for,and I don’t think he will be wasting those days. He will obviously be ruing the absentees,but as a former international manager himself,he knows the ropes. There are some things that we,as fans,can use the break for too-and one of them is to briefly assess our season so far,as the title of the article suggests.
So how have AP’s first ten weeks in the dugout gone? Well,there lies a tale of the curate’s egg,I suppose.
For starters,I think he and DMcK had been building up a good relationship,building trust,knowing that the success of one was vital to the success of the other. Sadly,the departure of our young CEO has left him at the tender mercies of the old guard,the Politburo,and he probably realises that he will have to work with what they give him,rather than what he wants and asks for. That hamstrings him-but it is similar to his days as an international manager,when he could only pick players available to him by nationality. We all wish this were not the case,but we have to deal with it. And so too does AP.
His first venture into European football might be judged as a qualified success,one where CL qualification would have been ideal but EL qualification can still be classed as a pass mark. However,the two games in the group stages certainly cannot. And it would help considerably if he could hammer some discipline into his players about how to concentrate after losing a goal. Or even after scoring one.
Actually,at home,we are very impressive indeed. 21 goals in five games domestically is no mean feat at any level. But three defeats out of four on our travels does not make good reading. In his defence,the defeat against Hearts was daylight robbery,the loss at Ibrox was unfortunate as it could have gone either way. The late victory against Aberdeen showed grit,showed players busting a gut for the jersey and for the manager too.
The play to the 90+ minutes was a pleasure to watch,even if the game itself rarely was. But the shocker against Livingston,when nothing went right,the players seemed unable to react to the game around them,showed some alarming failures in selection and replacements. Not that AP is well blessed with a busload of potential on his bench,admittedly.
There is little doubt that our form away from home is little short of disastrous,with Sunday being our first success on our travels for EIGHT months. We also face difficult tests soon,and should be using that Sunday win bonus as a foundation for the journey back to our best. That part is down to the players,to just how much they want it. But it is down to AP in his role as manager to drive that spirit,belief and desire into his players.
He needs to do a reverse Brian Clough,in effect. Not so much the famous-throw all your medals in the bin line,more-the ones you have won,you can be proud of. But the one to be proudest of is the next one!
Those players have a bulging trophy cabinet already,and wallets to match. But there are a lot of our new guys who aren’t near that yet. They want the medals,the caps,the big contracts. They want what they came into the game for.
And so does AP. Rooting about in the backwaters-with all due respect-of Oz and Japan is not his life plan. He will be desperate to show the world what he has,earn its respect. To do that,he has to get the players to burst with every bit as much self pride and desire as he has. To be the best that they can be,now that they are getting that chance.
And you know what? I honestly don’t think that AP will suffer anyone that he views as preventing that.
Above article by BMCUWP