“Big game mentality” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot and whatever way it is interpreted, in football it essentially means the ability to rise to the occasion of a big fixture and raise your performance accordingly.
Off the back of last Wednesday’s crushing disappointment and the accompanying reality check that came with it, the match against Motherwell was labelled as a “big game” and on hindsight it’s clear that our boys had that aforementioned “big game mentality” as having suffered an early setback, we bravely got that battle fever on and relentlessly fought our way to victory.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s trip to Perth, it’s true to say that this is another “big game” and needs to be treated as such. In fact, it’s no smaller than last Saturday’s visit of Motherwell or indeed the boxing day clash with Hibs. Nor is it any different to our return to Paisley next Wednesday, or the second Old Firm clash on January 2nd. These matches, each and every one NEED to be seen as big games, huge games, yielding “life depends on it”, “playing like men possessed”-type performances.
After our flawless start to the season, confidence was of course high, and we went into every match expecting to win, rightly so. However, there’s only so long unbeaten runs can last and when you go into any match giving any less than 100% respect to your opponents, as witnessed last week – you run the risk of being punished.
The point then, is to treat every game as if it’s a cup final (until such a time as we manage to reach an actual one, and we will). Fielding our strongest eleven and taking advantage of the 5 subs in order to utilise the squad and keep players involved. Further, that intensity, hunger and taking absolutely nothing for granted has to be present for each and every minute of every single remaining fixture we have.
If we do this, based on the fighting spirit we saw on Saturday and everything else we’ve seen our boys produce this season, that magic fifty-fifth league trophy, this season’s holy grail should not escape our reach.