Never say die

Last updated : 15 December 2004 By Keith Allman
Looking back onto the last days of the Harry Redknapp regime, it's possible to say things had gone a bit stale. Of course, everything I say is going to be completely biased by the fact he's now established himself as a complete idiot, but even so please just bear with me here. Ever since last May there had been back room rumblings, we were rubbish away from home, and we'd just lost three games on the trot - including an appalling home defeat to Manchester City. And yet every game we lost it was still alright, purely because "Think where this team was when I took over".

But now look! It seems there's a whole new unity at the club and we just don't know when we're beaten. It all started at Velimir Zajec's first game away to Bolton, with Arjan De Zeeuw giving a team talk to the players just before kick off. The influential captain gathered his team mates and told them, "We have a ready-made excuse for losing this match, but we’re not going to take it. We’ve got to forget all the nonsense that’s going on around our club and do this for ourselves, not for anyone else." Of course, we went on to clinch our first away win of the season. A week later, and after seemingly being dead and buried, we came back from the brink to score two late goals. Up at Newcastle, we go one goal down and then come back to draw. Finally, last night, at Anfield of all places, we snatch an equaliser in injury time.

In a funny old way, losing Harry might be the best thing to happen to our season. At the time we were all gutted and wondering why, but now it's given us a point to prove. It's helped us to develop a seige mentality, and with the media constantly taking the side of Redknapp, it's really helping an "us against the world" frame of mind. What's more, the players are no longer worrying about what is being said in the media between manager and chairman, since Velimir practically doesn't exist outside of match time. Not only that, the problems around away games seem to have been lifted; whether it's Velimir's tactics or the fact we no longer have the millstone round the neck of our appalling record under Redknapp, the change in fortunes has been noticeable.

With minutes to go yesterday, I was thinking to myself well - we might lose, but at the end of the day at least we've shown character and played well, and have only conceded to a cracking strike. Ashdown was fantastic, Berger was all over the park, De Zeeuw was solid; there were plenty of positives to be taken. Compare that to Villa just over a month earlier, the pen-ultimate away game of the Redknapp regime, and it seems clear how far we've come.

The fact we're now six wins from safety with twenty-one games to play is very, very good news.