Last Saturdays result at St Andrews left Bluenoses feeling more miserable than at any time since the embarrassing 8-0 home drubbing by Bournemouth and understandably so. It was a dismal performance which from the outside looked like abject surrender.
The manager quite rightly is held accountable for the team’s results however surely the players must take some responsibility for the results? Individual errors happen because players switch off or lose focus and they have cost goals and points. No matter how badly you are playing you can run around and get stuck in and make life difficult for the opposition-that in my opinion did not happen on Saturday.
The morale and confidence of the team must be rock bottom with just one win in 14 games so it is worth remembering that the game is mostly about “between the ears”. Win a game or two and the confidence is high, with everyone wanting the ball, and you believe you will win. However a losing run can see confidence disappear with individuals touch also vanishing, more mistakes are made due mainly to trying to force the game. With confidence you can go a goal down and believe you will still win, without confidence you start to doubt. That is why mental strength is so important in a player. The biggest problem for Gianfranco Zola is getting the players believing, which is extremely difficult on the back of such a poor run.
The clamour from fans for the head of manager Gianfranco Zola amid media reports of talks with the TTA board led to much speculation that the manager was due for the sack. However director Panos Pavlakis has made it clear on more than one occasion that Zola is their choice and has the board’s full support and that they are sticking with him.
However I have been around long enough to know that if they were to keep losing games it would test that support to the limit.
I am more of the opinion that Gianfranco Zola is a proud man and is more likely to walk away from the job if he ever started to doubt his ability to turn things around.
He knows better than anyone that the game is about winning first with style and formation etc. coming a distant second. In my experience no one complains about anything when you win and everything when you lose.
I made it clear from the outset that I was staggered by the sacking of Gary Rowett, however with working with over local 70 managers in my broadcasting career I also realise that once it happens you have to move on and support the new manager because nobody involved with the club wants then to lose.
When the decision was taken that Gary had to be replaced they could have brought in a manager with similar philosophies to him but they had decided, as is their right as they own the club, that they wanted the team to play more attractive football and move in a different playing direction so opted for a manager who would do that.
However rarely does a new manager take over a team that is 3 points off third place, normally they take over a struggling club where the only way is up and expectations are not sky high.
It was always difficult for GZ because he had to;
a) Win over the fans;
b) Change the playing style;
c) Bring in new players during the January transfer window;
d) Try and win games.
That is a tough ask for any manager and in my opinion would have been far easier to do in the summer without the pressure of two games a week plus there would be more time to bring in new players and instil into them your way of playing.
The owners must have realised to change mid-season was risky but they decided it was a risk worth taking in the long term.
I interview Gianfranco twice a week and let me make it very clear he cares passionately about the club and building a winning team for the supporters.
However as I said earlier though the most important thing is that he has to win games it really is as simple as that. I hope the return of Morrison, Davis, Gardner, Maghoma, and Jutkiewicz will make a difference because most of the team’s physicality was missing against QPR and didn’t it show.
I really hope he does turn it around because if they suffer a few more losses they will be looking over their shoulders towards the wrong end of the table.
What I have found fantastic, but not surprising, is that the supporters continue to sing and cheer at each home game despite the dreadful run of results. The team have never needed the backing more than they do at this time.