THE JOL VERDICT
Martin Jol looks back at the pre-season period and ahead to our Premier League opener against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday…
Martin Jol looks back at the pre-season period and ahead to our Premier League opener against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday…WE HAVEN'T LOST a game in pre-season and that is not always a good omen but, having said that, we haven't lost a friendly in the last three summers now. I don't think you can read too much into the outcomes of these games as in Holland they say it is better to have one bad match to get it out of the way before the season starts.
We'll take it all in our stride, I feel we did well on Saturday against Torino and almost all the players had a good work-out. South Africa was a good trip, Leyton Orient was okay although we conceded two goals, which is not what you want, but overall I know that everybody wants to work for each other, everybody wants to be at this club and that is not always the case in football.
Kevin-Prince Boateng has come in now and all the lads have been very welcoming to him and the other new players. Gareth Bale has been injured, but will be back soon, Younes Kaboul has played as if he has been here for the last couple of seasons, while Darren Bent has enjoyed himself and scored five goals over pre-season.
Our strikers registered a good return over pre-season, but we want goals from all positions and that is what we had last season when almost all our players contributed. The strikers have the biggest part to play, they are always looking to improve and we work on this on a daily basis.
I believe there is much more to come from us, particularly when all the players are available for selection. The fact that they haven't been is the only downside of this preparation period. With all our players fit we have an outstanding squad and even without a few key individuals we look fine.
We head up to Sunderland on Saturday for the opening fixture of the new season and we need a very good start. Our newly promoted opponents will want to show everybody that they can survive in the Premiership and they will play with a lot of pride, but we don't want a similar outcome to that at Bolton last year and we will fight for every square metre of territory as well.
Roy Keane has got Sunderland back into the Premier League - they are too big a club to be playing in the Championship - and they have invested in strengthening their squad. They look a strong team, they have done well in pre-season and they will now be looking to do the business in the top flight.
For us it is about getting the right results at the start of the season.