I wonder how many teams have cemented their own relegation by deciding that “now is the time for fighters”.
We see this everywhere now. Alan Shearer will talk about Fulham and declare that “now is the time for fighters”, noting in due course that he’s not sure that the likes of Dimitar Berbatov “have the stomach” for a relegation battle.
There’s something to this: the best football teams combine great skill with absolute commitment and this gives them an edge over other teams who might lack either.
But at the bottom it’s not enough to just decide that sleeves need rolling up. You actually need to get better at football.
We have already jettisoned the sleeves down Bryan Ruiz and are likely to see the laid back Dimitar Berbatov on his way, too.
In their stead the fans want people who know they are in a “dog fight” who will scrap for every last point.
In all these situations it’s useful to think: “what would Roy do?”
He would tell Dimitar Berbatov what is expected of him, Berbatov would do it, and eventually this would prove fruitful.
It’s easy to forget that before Hodgson arrived, Danny Murphy was a fairly marginal figure. Hodgson realised that if he was to pull of the survival trick he needed quality above all else, and that meant making sure that the team ran through Murphy. Hodgson got the defence organised as priority #1, brought in some players he knew, and set about turning things around.
Fulham need to get better. It’s about effort but more than that it’s about coaching and structure.
There is some evidence that we’re on the right track. By all accounts the defence looked halfway organised against Arsenal, and we’d seen some suggestion of same in the preceding games. Hodgson did a lot of work with our attack during the great escape, too, particularly emphasising crossing (and a number of goals came from crosses). So it’s about attitude, of course it is, but that’s secondary to having a coherent approach to playing football. The players need to be capable of buying into this and executing instructions, and we don’t know how this applies or doesn’t apply to the squad we have now, but please, let’s not get bogged down in all this scrapping for points rubbish. There’s so much more to it than that.