For me the most disturbing concern from the match yesterday was the sheer lack of passion and fighting spirit on display as at no stage did we ever look like we were going to get stuck in, pull our socks up and battle for our lives out there. When Kenny came back a year ago it was blindingly obvious that in an instant he reinstalled a much needed team spirit so blatantly missing under Hodgson, the players suddenly started to believe again, they desperately wanted to show how much it meant to play for Kenny, to play hard for a unified team and to play for the fans. Despite some obvious squad shortcomings it was this desire that carried us forward and the desire that got us the results that lifted us up the table.
This season it seems this passion has gone and the fighting spirit that lifted us last season has all but gone. I have always been in awe at how much blood and guts we as a team have historically shown - going back to Ged it was there and if the 'team huddle' seemed a little contrived it definitely worked and helped us to some great 'backs to the wall' victories (the treble anyone). Rafa's teams (his final season aside) clearly had bags of spirit (Istanbul obvious starting point) and after the horror of Hodgson we had it back under Kenny, but this season what has happened?
This malaise seems to have festered and simmered and is now coming to the boil with displays lacking any guts, effort, passion, drive to succeed, the balls to try and do something a little different, an aversion to picking up the ball and doing something with it, risking a long shot, putting your neck on the line, risking injury in 50-50 balls - where the fuck is the basic blood and guts and want to wear the shirt that is the basic requirement for any player privileged enough to play for this beautiful club??
For years we have been taught that despite our inadaquecies and lack of technique and guile, British players were in the very least guaranteed to put their neck on the line and show a bit of 'Dunkirk spirit' and conversely we were taught that foreginers were purely 'Johhny come latelys' who didn't give a fuck about the team they were playing for as it was a stop gap and a mercenery excuse to earn a quick buck. Well from what i saw yesterday evening and what i have increasingly seen all season is that our nucleaus of new 'home grown' signings (Bellamy aside) lack any kind of fight, passion and most of all bollocks. Yes, they have their individual attributes (Henderson particulalrly) but oh my do they wilter under pressure. Never have a seem such bunch of flowers running round the pitch dodging tackles, jogging round the pitch with their fingers shoved up their arses, not chasing after lost causes, not having the aptitude to try and pick up the ball and make something happen!
Looking round the team, i see passion from Pepe who has shown commitment to us, i see passion from our back line who by the very fact they have been so tight this season indicates spirit, i see bucketfuls of tenacity from Jay and Lucas, of course i see passion from Suarez who anything is too passionate, and as for Stevie - well i don't need to comment here.
For me the collective of Downing, Adam, Henderson and Carroll are at the root of this as they have come in and not shown any commitment to the red shirt. I do feel a bit guilty saying this about Hendo as he does put a bit of perspiration (but a lack of trying something risky) in but as to the rest of them they need to take a look in the mirror and question exacty what do they get all that money for?
I can't help but feeling that Kenny's post match comments yesterday were alluding to these. Him like me and many of us feel short changed right now.
Much more needed.
Am i the only one who thinks this has gotten worse?