Halfway through our Asia Trophy final and I started thinking about what I’d trade the silverware for, were we to end up winning it.
Three points against Leicester on the opening day? A signing in the next seven days? A fit Matt Doherty? A secret transcript of Laurie Dalrymple’s alleged misdemeanours?
I was hard pushed to go against any of the above, but when Patricio clinched the trophy against the champions with a third penalty save, I’d warmed to the prospect of the lads lifting it.
It’s no secret we need to supplement our wafer-thin squad, while a strong start to the Premier League (not to mention the Europa) is key, but to see Guo, Jeff and Nuno grinning like Cheshire cats with the Asia Trophy was an uplifting sight afterwards.
The significance should not be downplayed. Heading out to China was the wish of our owners and to finish top of a four-team pile at the end of it all can only validate their investment in the first place, in front of the audience that means most to them.
In other words: If Fosun are happy, then we should be too.
Whether a friendly cup win correlates to greater philanthropy – and even greater ambition in the transfer market – is impossible to say, but it can’t have done any harm when Nuno’s moody dark eyes are next fixated on Jeff, his threadbare squad behind him, and then back at Jeff again.
It also underlines our status as a serious Premier League player, not only mixing it with household names Newcastle, West Ham and Man City, but prevailing in our old gold shirts which half the continent will never have seen.
The feel-good factor is clear to see on the pitch too, as the close-knit group look as disciplined and organised as they ever did last season, with two clean sheets bearing testament. We just need a few new faces to help them out.
The most pleasing aspect of this final win was the professionalism of the young lads who came on near the end, most of whom I barely recognised, save for the bumfluffed Luke Cundle who I swore delivered my papers.
They were well drilled and knew their roles to the letter and they didn’t look out of place against esteemed opponents. In Dion Sanderson, we saw a particularly mature performance with no little ability, suggesting that Nuno might just have unearthed a gem.
The experience our wolf cubs gained will go a long way and again, if Nuno can deliver a trophy with such scant resources, then imagine the possibilities with some stellar new signings, Jeff?! For the foreseeable, incomings at Compton will assume precedence in a sub-plot that is slowly gathering pace. We’ll see what the coming days bring.
Whether it’s Ruben Dias, Patrick Cutrone or absolutely nobody, the first team as it currently stands remains strong. Adama Traore looked explosive as a wing back, while Vinagre dazzled once more in a twinkle-toed cameo.
The rest, as we know, were consistent and able against an incredibly good side. And in goal, we have a world class operator who virtually won the cup on his own.
It might not equate to an open top bus parade, but don’t sniff at the Asia Trophy for its football feng shui.
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