OFF THE BALL PHIL on the night he got an insight into the winning mentality the current City squad possess.
A fair few months ago, I wandered out from my little garage in Chiswick, over the road to the local hotel on a Friday night, a natural weekly pilgrimage that myself and a number of workmates partake in.
But this particular Friday was very different. A large coach with NCFC emblazoned on it took up most of the parking; the rather posh gaff was housing them before playing QPR the following day and I giggled with excitement at the prospect of getting smashed with some City players!
Obviously, they were all tucked up in bed by 6pm, but I did find a few City tracksuited faces that were not immediately recognisable. I got chatting in most part to Mike, our fitness trainer, recently employed from Sheffield United and went about interrogating him with the big questions that were on the collective Vital mind early on in the season, Namely ‘why does Askou not play’, ‘who are we going to buy’ and ‘how is R Martin fit to wear a Yellow shirt( come on vital friends, it wasn’t long ago that a lot of us thought this)’?
Now the answers young Mike gave me, apart from being rather political and towing the company line, didn’t tell me a lot – R Martin was the hardest working professional at the club, Lambert thought highly of Askou, and only the right type of player who would fit in was going to come to the club.
I think the Askou line was hiding something (but given his form at Millwall, no big loss), we was spot on in Martin, and the transfer policy, we didn’t sign a ‘bigish’ name just because we could in January, we kept the cash and strengthened in a couple of areas.
But what does stick out in my mind was the question Mike asked of me, a humble City supporter – What did I expect from this season?
In truth I would be ok with mere championship survival, mid-table would be great, play-offs amazing. Mike seemed genuinely shocked by this, ‘What about winning the league or automatic promotion?’ he asked. ‘It’s too soon, I think it may do more harm than good, we are just not ready for it’ was my response. Mike smiled and just said ‘the team goes out to win ever game, every one at the club has the same aim.’
I didn’t think much of that, but over the coming months I realised that the whole attitude of the club had changed since the Grant/Roeder eras. Positivity flowed from the top and ran through every member of the staff and team. All they knew was how to win – defeat was unthinkable!
Every game was played to win, attack being the best form of defence, work rate throughout the team increased and you only have to look at Simeon Jackson to see that defending starts from the from the front with this team.
Then there’s the 23 points we have earned in injury time, thanks to that determination to win, and Mike’s fitness training…
I’m no longer worried about going up so quickly, I’m on board with the positivity that surrounds our great club, belief that the strength of a team can far outweigh its constituent components, but above all that I know one thing to be true – In Lambert We Trust!
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