While it’s clear that Big Sam has a certain nous when it comes to organizing defenses, there’s no way we can expect our back line to keep clean sheets away at the bigger clubs, even with the manager’s emphasis on safety first, particularly when we travel.
However, mistakes happen, goals get scored, and wanting a clean sheet from every game is asking a lot of our defense, and while I think our center backs our fantastic, I am a bit worried about our fullbacks being able to handle the transition to the Premier League.
The point I’m trying to make is that we are going to have to score goals this season in order to be successful. I know Big Sam will keep us very hard to beat and break down, and he has made his name on being successful at any costs, but if the dreaded Avram Grant era taught us anything, it’s that draws are no substitute for wins.
While I’d be ecstatic getting draws away at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, and the like, we will need wins to survive this season (though I personally think aiming higher than mere survival is a must for a club like ours). There are plenty of clubs that aren’t above our weight, and we should set out to beat them.
We can’t force our players to play a style that doesn’t suit them (or change Big Sam’s ways), but there are plenty of ways to ensure we aren’t drawing blanks match after match. I like being linked with strikers that have great finishing ability like Yilmaz, but I think what will really make the difference is a willingness and energy by our midfielders to quickly support attacking moves.
We have plenty of options in midfield, and Mark Noble provides the security in front of our back line so that Kevin Nolan and our wide players can push forward, and I really think that will be the difference between a striker being unable to hold up the ball and a striker finishing off nice moves.
If we can put the ball in the back of the net frequently, then opposing teams will have to be more cautious and respectful when trying to bomb forward.