With our first genuine crunch game of the season looming chairman Chris Mort has stoked up the pressure on Big Sam even more by saying:
‘Frankly, if we’re going to win anything, Arsenal away is the sort of game we have to play in, and try to get a result that will put them out of the competition. If we accept a position where we aren’t going to be capable of beating the likes of Arsenal in a cup game, we’re never going to win a cup.
If you look at the signings we’ve made, there are strikers and midfielders, but the real focus has been on strengthening the defence, and I think that’s is going to be crucial if we’re going to compete in any competition. We have to be a tougher side to beat and we have to be capable of going away from home and getting victories.
The Premier League is a very physical league and the players we brought in – players like Joey Barton and Alan Smith – are very capable of holding their own against any side. We’ve also had a real focus on players who have real heart on the pitch because we want the right balance of skill and athleticism, but we also want players who have the right sort of spirit to compete for the club.’
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