For the first time in a number of years there was a very optimistic mood amongst the Red and White of St Marys prior to the League One lunchtime kick off on Saturday.
This despite an, at best, mixed pre-season, a number of players reportedly carrying injuries and the omens really not looking good.
The Saints have dreadful opening day form, and who really knows what exactly happened after the Saints domination of the first twenty minutes against Plymouth.
Both teams seemed to be cancelling each other out, but approaching half time there didn’t appear to be any real danger to Alan Pardew's men. All this was undone two minutes into the second half, when a goalmouth scramble led to Luke Summerfield poking home the only, and eventual winning, goal.
Whilst over the whole season three points lost shouldn’t be a major issue, this particular loss leads to a big discussion about the make up of the side to face Bournemouth in the League Cup opening round tonight.
Before the season started, there were a large number of supporters in the camp that wanted a ‘league’ team and a ‘cup’ team this season.
Whilst making wholesale changes could still bring victory against the Cherries, that wouldn’t provide the injection of confidence that is needed if Saturday’s line up was then to be changed again. Consistency could be the key on this occasion despite the defeat.
Taking the change route could also backfire and lead to being knocked out of the League Cup, which although not a major concern to most fans is not really a wanted option against local rivals. It is a game that has to be taken seriously by the players and coaching staff, and one that now needs to be won.
One thing that Pardew has been talking about since day one of his tenure is creating a winning habit. That didn’t happen at the start of last season, or in pre-season this time around.
It needs to happen now, and for that reason Saints will need to see as close to a full strength side as can be fielded for as long as it takes to get that elusive run of 4,5 or 6 victories in a row.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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