The weekend’s victory over Dundee was a fixture we could have so easily slipped up on. However, the side showed great resilience in grinding out a result and erasing the memories of last week’s defeat to Aberdeen. Despite our loss last Saturday, there was an expectation on the players’ shoulders to achieve a positive result against Dundee.
These are the sort of fixtures that gauge how far the team have progressed. I think most supporters last season would have approached this game with fear rather than optimism as we never looked confident of picking up any points at home, regardless of the opposition. I think the scoreline perhaps flattered Dundee and it could have been a lot worse for them had we taken more of the chances we managed to create. It will have been hugely pleasing for the side to register our second clean sheet of the season which will improve our overall goal difference significantly.
The manager has certainly addressed last season’s negativity and must take huge credit for what he has managed to achieve so far this season. Make no mistake, there were a lot of tough decisions that had to be made over the summer break after just escaping relegation. Working with a very limited budget, Pat Fenlon has most certainly instilled a steel and determination within the squad and that is a testimony to the players he has acquired over the past few months. They have bedded in well and added a new dimension to both our style of play and attitude both on and off the park. It would appear a desire to win matches has thankfully returned to Easter Road.
Fenlon needed to rediscover the club’s heartbeat after what was a torrid way to end last year and I think his own ideas are now coming to fruition. The way the team have gelled so quickly will be one aspect that is sure to please Fenlon the most. Reconstructing an entire squad was always going to be a formidable task but the players who have come through the doors appear to be up for the challenge of restoring the pride this club carries.
In most cases, inconsistency is bound to creep in at some point and hopefully we have already experienced our early season blip with a recent draw at home to Inverness and defeat at Pittodrie, the only disappointments during September. Winning matches on a regular basis will make the club a happier place to be for the players and management team. Going into training on a Monday morning after a victory at the weekend always brings out the laughter and jokes between the group.
Taking an example from my own experiences, I recall a manager once telling the players that if we didn’t like losing games then we should go out and do something about it. Simple but effective advice, it was his little way of challenging us to succeed. In every changing room across the country, it’s always valuable to possess the personnel who can keep spirits high when results aren’t going your way as every player handles defeat in a different manner. How you respond as a unit is what ultimately counts.
At the moment, the manager shouldn’t face the task of raising the spirits within the camp as we sit in a decent position in the league. It was nice to be at the league’s summit on Saturday evening, although it was only for a short spell.
There is still a lot of football to be played but there is nothing wrong with being ambitious. Why can’t we maintain our position near the top end and keep the challenge going? I hope all the good work achieved so far doesn’t come undone and we continue to go into each match looking for a victory. I think our approach this season has been refreshing, where we go on to the field looking to take all three points, irrespective of the opposition.