One win in an almost meaningless cup game that was played by fringe players against West Ham’s youth team and POSH is back? The voice of Matt Kisby from the Yellow Block podcast is the one that I hear refuting my claim that the POSH are about to go back on a run. After just listening to their latest episode about Fergie In or Out, I had to put my thoughts out there. The decline in confidence amongst POSH fans is not surprising after a run of losses with 41% saying Fergie Out. However, those numbers will rebound before the end of the season as we push toward promotion.
Fans can be fickle and there are some that have a distaste for Ferguson regardless of the results. It’s hard to moan about a manager who is winning but one that goes on a string of losses, get out the torches and pitchforks. Despite those losses, Ferguson isn’t going anywhere. The owners believe that this manager is the architect for their club. His job is safe through wobbles. Only a complete collapse would be grounds for removal and that isn’t happening. The ship is already heading back in the right direction.
The win against West Ham is relatively meaningless other than the lineup. It was a game that required the lower half of the squad to play. The lineup was consistent with the others from the Papas Johns Trophy. Now it is up to Ferguson to get the players to believe that they are a squad again. The recent downturn in form is not a lack of talent. It is actually due to a squad that is full of talent but it needs to be utilized based on merit. Ferguson knows this and his salty interview is an indication of change to come.
Humans lead with belief and their actions tend to reflect it. Comfortable players do not give you their best effort. So a player who believes that his place in the starting eleven is secure will tend not give everything that he has. The flip side of that coin is that a player who believes that nothing he does will get him into the starting eleven tends to give less than optimal performance as well. Often this belief system will rear its ugly head when the bench player comes on late in a game. Not much time to impress makes every touch of the ball count. So the anxiety of the situation undermines the performance of a fully capable replacement.
The POSH players, both starters and replacements, need to believe that they are part of the equation. Mo Eisa needs to believe that he can contribute and has a chance when someone’s form drops. Sammie Szmodics needs to believe that the team scoring is far more important than him scoring and then goals will come. Ferguson’s frustration in the interview after Portsmouth came from his players underperforming and as Tim said in the Yellow Block Podcast, it is his fault. I truly believe that the team selection and result in the FA Cup caused a downturn in the squad’s belief that had already begun. A rotated squad for that game sends the message to the fringe players that they matter and to the starters that their position is not completely safe. Ferguson has proved time after time in his career that he knows how to strike this balance.
Although the psychology of each individual is important, a team or group also develops their own psychology based on the environment created by the leader/manager. The consistency with which Ferguson has gotten teams to perform at a high level lets me know that he can get this team to believe again. He doesn’t seem to lead completely with “fear.” Hitting that button too many times leads to players who resent their manager (Steve Evans). Whatever was said in the locker room needed to stay there, those who heard it most likely have gotten this message. The free passes are gone. None of us is bigger than all of us and we cannot wait for you to get it right. Unless I’ve completely misjudged him, Ferguson is going to get it right!
Up the POSH!
And listen to the Yellow Block! They’re good lads. (Can I say that as an American? Good guys is what I would normally say.)