Writer: Mike Field
Date:Wednesday February 6 2008
Martin O'Neill has said that the international break could not have come at a worse time for the club.
He is obviously referring to the Fulham loss and the inability to now disect the game with the players and work them hard on the training pitch in an effort to get rid of all the little errors we keep making.
'Of all weeks, this is the one where you would want to get loads out of your system in training with the players.
'I'm sure the lads would have wanted to do that too.
'We would have analysed the game - not too much because that wouldn't be healthy - but we had certain points to pick up on.
'We can do that on Thursday when the lads get back but that's not ideal because it's a Saturday early afternoon match.
'It's a big game for us and we need to put things right.'
I must admit I take the opposite view. I think the timing is perfect myself. Those on international commitments will come back refreshed and hopefully happy from having a change of scenery. Our others players get to have a little break and have time to reflect, recharge their batteries and it's even more well timed for those with injuries, knocks or who are feeling slightly tired.
The errors we made against Fulham cannot be rectified by training, we went into the match probably thinking we would walk it and were no where near as commited as we normally are.
Those are mental weaknesses, and they can only be sorted out by the players sitting at home and stewing over a pathetic performance and finding it within themselves to not make such an error again.
With the break they have time to do that.
Only added on the official site:
'The challenge now is to go on an unbeaten run again. I was disappointed we lost and I would have been the same if we had drawn.
'But I suppose if we had drawn, it would have kept the run going. Then suddenly we're going into Newcastle with plenty of confidence.
'But there's no reason why we can't do that anyway because the crowd is right behind us and willing us on.
'I still believe we are capable of winning away games but we should certainly look to win our home matches.'
If anything against Fulham, we were a victim of our own success. We have been dragging out results or playing really well and the players probably thought given Fulham's form that we would take the match without much effort.
Unfortunately when it became clear we wouldn't they failed to step up a gear like all good teams do.
Again that is not a training ethic, it's a mental ethic and along with the will to win, the belief that you have won before you step on the pitch, you need to have the strength behind it to react accordingly.
MON has done wonders in changing us from a team who used to walk onto the pitch like they had already lost - Fulham just shows the job isn't finished yet.
Date:Wednesday February 6 2008
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