16 long years of away-day hurt for the Lilywhites
It’s been 16 years since we defeated Liverpool at Anfield in the league. That’s 16 years since the last three points collected away from home against one of the ‘Big Four’ (although Chelsea haven’t been a true top four club until recent years, but still, you get the jist of it). We are a soft touch away from the Lane.
This season (where we’ve struggled to beat the small clubs) we’ve had a good record against the top 4 at home (and away) beating Liverpool and Chelsea and taking two points from Arsenal. The 5-2 loss on Saturday was the first time this season we’ve ended with nothing against a Sky Sports elite side in the league. Why we never quite manage to battle towards a win is a curious mystery, when other (considered to be) lesser clubs are able to shock the big four on their home turf from time to time.
We saw both sides of Spurs at Old Trafford. The good (first half) and the bad (second half). The latter being a throw-back to the Spurs we thought we had left behind. It’s a mental block of sorts. A curious psychological problem that steems from a lack of belief and because this was Man Utd, we gave up after the shock of the penalty decision. We were overhauled by the occasion and the injustice. But make no mistake about it, even though Utd upped the tempo and got lucky with the Webb decision, we didn't exactly look like we were trying to continue where we left off after a smart opening 45 minutes.
Jenas cited that Webb was guilty of ‘crumbling under the pressure’. He saw the irony and made sure he mentioned the fact we conceded four further goals.These type of 'switch-off' performances happen often. At home too (Utd 3-5, City 3-4).
No matter the players, no matter the manager, we always have these lapses and negative reactions. I cited lack of leadership and composure in my match report. But there is no need to knee-jerk just yet. Dish out a spanking to WBA this weekend, and we are back on track to end the season on a high. Compared to the start of the season, I’d much rather be worrying about our development than looking over our shoulders at relegation.
Going forward, we (Harry) has to remove the mental block. How that's done exactly, I don't quite know. I guess the answer can be found in the following question: Why does it happen in the first place?