On Saturday, I went to the cup game fearing that Blues would get hammered. Their poor second half against Brentford had left me thinking that our players just couldn’t manage to play a whole game in the style that Zola wants them to play. The first few minutes of the game and Newcastle’s early goal intensified my fears. But then our players settled down, looked less nervous and equalised a few minutes before half time. My fear was replaced by hope. At first it was hope that we wouldn’t be humiliated and it turned into hope that we would win.
I realise that my attitude towards some Blues players has been one that I would have condemned when I worked as a teacher. When a teacher thinks a student is incapable of learning something then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; you can’t do a good job of teaching someone if you think that person can’t learn. Zola believes our players can learn a new system and, after seeing their performance against Newcastle, I am starting to hope that they can. Buying better players is not the only way to improve a team; our current players can also learn to play better.
My natural inclination to pessimism hasn’t been replaced by an expectation that we are going to get promoted. But I’m looking forward to the rest of this season with a little bit of hope.