I wanted to use these notes to offer my view on the start we have made and to provide some thoughts going forward.
Performance-wise, we have done a lot of things well and have many positives to take from the start of the season. We have created chances, scored goals, defended well and been organised throughout the majority of our matches. We have a young team which will improve and we are developing the environment in which we work every day so it is becoming better and better.
Clearly we have things to improve, which is exciting and motivating. That said, we are disappointed with the points tally so far but understand that is also part of the challenge that is the Premier League. Points and wins are hard to come by and are a fight for every team in the league, and that is why it is viewed as the most competitive in the world. We have fought as a club for a long time to play at this level and so, by definition, we must also understand how hard it is to stay here and then to improve.
We are absolutely committed to doing that. It is important that alongside that ambition, there is a respect and humility towards our opponents as they will also be doing the same – they will also have the same goal, which is to fight to win Premier League matches.
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The challenge for us is to understand, with our resources and with our conditions, how we can try to build our club and move forward. You can see in the Premier League that huge investment happens where clubs try to go to the next level, meaning vast sums on transfer fees and salaries. This is not our model. Our model is one where we have to use the resources at the club as wisely as we can, to maximise the academy and to recruit and develop players within the long-term financial vision of the club.
Neither path guarantees success, but with our model it is important to understand the opportunities and challenges with it. Firstly, developing players is something to be really proud of and thoroughly rewarding, but it is also not a straight road. By definition, you are trying to help players from the academy, or from a level below, go through the process of playing in, and excelling in, the Premier League. There will be ups and downs but if we understand this we are more likely to stick with the process and see better players, better people and better teams.
We know that we are in the results business and that is ‘all that matters’ but at the same time, what is unique about our club is that it is our club. We want to do things our way – not better or worse than anyone else, but our way – and therefore how we go about our task is important also. I believe people need to see what we are trying to do and then the work is to convince them that it is a path and a journey worth coming on.
I can’t promise you I will be perfect and if I do make mistakes along the way, I can assure you they are in the best interests of the team and the club and the wonderful supporters that we have. I want nothing more, and the players want nothing more, than to provide a football team and club that you are proud of. We may not always agree, but my respect is there always as without you guys we are nothing.
Due to the unprecedented circumstances we face in life at the moment, we are unable to be together and it is a real shame. We are starting a new lockdown situation which is challenging for us all, but I want you to know that we miss you and hope you and your families are well – and we look forward to the day when we can celebrate football and our fantastic football club together.