Our season kicks off for real tonight!
We face our first game with a near full squad since the transfer window close …at Hull City.
The transfer dealings have been largely welcomed and the late signings have had time to meet their team mates and hopefully train with them.
Big Sam has his players and he has to deliver.
Much is made about the formation we play. Many fans see us with one up front but Sam swears blind there are actually three up there.
However, it’s not such much the formation, as the players he selects! Trying to second guess the team he picks for the game is not easy but if he starts with the usual suspects that under-perform time and time again then I can only see more pressure being heaped upon his broad shoulders.
Carlton Cole, God bless him, is a trier yet it just don’t come off for him; Vaz Te blows hot and cold or should it be cold and cold while Matt Jarvis has never really covered himself in glory, perhaps weighed down by the fee we paid.
The time has come to start the new boys as at some point we have to know if they can cut it in the Premier League and doing that against the top teams is asking for trouble.
We need to build their confidence by starting them and not against the very best – where we generally ended chasing shadows and then the game – but against teams where we have a chance of stamping our authority.
The owners have kept their part of the bargain and Sam now he no excuses. with Liverpool and Man U up next, failure to take anything from this game could see us in bottom 3 by the time QPR arrive.
I’m not under-estimating Hull as they have also done very well with their own in-comings and last season showed they very capable of pulling off results when required.
But if as the owners have demanded we are to finish in the top 10 then this has to be a game from which points are crucial.
I would start with Sakho up top, three behind him – Downing on right, Noble middle and Zarate on left. Sitting deeper in front of the defence, Kayoute and Song.
Then at the back we go hopefully with Carl Jenkinson – O’Brien is injured – at right back, Reid and Collins with Cresswell,
By having the back four protected by Song and Kouyate it should leave Noble the freedom to roam, something he’s never been really allowed to do. Think back to the Tevez season when he really broke through.
He got into some great forward positions chipping in with goals to boot. Mark is an intelligent player with great passing, but can tackle.
Looking how a lot of teams now defend from their front line, he could pressure the oppositions back line, and could be the natural successor to Nolan if given the chance
Sam may well ask for 10 games to let his squad gel but he hasn’t got that time. he needs to show now he can take this squad up the table, without falling back into his old bad tactics routine.
And it has to start tonight.