When you consider the number of goals we’ve scored in domestic football this season, and you compare that to the number we’ve scored in Europe (one, and it was given as an OG) you might be forgiven for thinking, if you were a neutral, that we just aren’t getting the chances that we would usually be getting when we play here at home.
And of course, you would be dead wrong.
Because of course, we’re creating plenty of chances. We’re just not being clinical enough in putting those chances into the back of the net. Which isn’t exactly worrying, because if weren’t getting them then it would be a bigger concern.
But it is interesting, and it poses a question.
Are our forwards guilty, maybe, of a little bit of stage fright? Are they guilty, maybe, of not taking that extra half a second when chances present themselves? That could be it, that little psychological pressure of not wanting to make a mistake which gives a defender an extra half second to nip in and make a saving tackle.
That’s a perfectly normal thing. And it can only be solved by playing games at this level and players being able to do what comes naturally. The more of these matches the players are involved in, the more relaxed they’ll be.
This was obvious last season as we neared the latter stages of the league campaign; people started to get nervous, and misplaced passes and silly mistakes became the norm. Once we got the points which made it official, we were able to comfortably roll over Motherwell on the final day, and here at home things have gone that way since.
That will happen here too. Once some of these guys start finding the net the goals will flow, especially our strikers, because these guys are definitely confidence players and once they realise that they do belong on this stage and stop over-thinking it – Jota was a prime example last night – they will settle, and suddenly the goals will come.
And when that happens … boy oh boy we’ll take some stopping.