'We probably took the fans for granted' - Callum Robinson admits ahead of Crunch Euro 2020 Play-off

Tue, Oct 06 2020

Football, especially at the elite level, has changed considerably over the past 7 months. Stadiums that were once full of thousands of fans are now empty, and the chorus of cheers from rapturous attendees has now turned into silence broken only by players and coaches yelling instructions across the pitch at each other. 

The difference may seem small, especially for fans watching with added fan noise from broadcast providers, but it is having a significant impact on the way football is being played and trends being bucked at the highest level. 

After only four rounds of fixtures so far this season in the Premier League, there have been 144 goals and only 17 clean sheets in 38 games. This averages out as 3.79 goals per game, which means that if this trend were to continue across the 342 remaining games, there would be 1440 goals by th final matchday, which would make it the highest scoring premier league season by over 200 goals (the very first in 1992/93, with 1,222 goals).

So how much of a difference does playing without a packed stadium make? According to West Brom and Republic of Ireland striker Callum Robinson, players are still unsure. “There can be differences in different games,” Robinson explained during a virtual media briefing that extratime.com were apart of. 

“For instance, that Chelsea game [3-3 vs West Brom, coming back from three goals down] they come back into it and got the three goals but you could say if there were fans roaring us on to keep going that might not have happened.”

Despite the increased amount of goals in the club game, Robinson does not expect goals to be easier to come by when it comes to internationals. When asked about it, he replied “with international football I always find it a little different, it’s a bit more tactical and there’s a lot more quality so you know you’ve got to make it hard to break us down because we know the quality Slovakia or any other team has. I think it will be a lot different and not so many goals as people will make it very difficult to break down and be more tactical.”

When asked about the most difficult aspect of playing fixtures behind closed doors, Robinson admitted that not feeling the love from supporters after scoring a goal has been difficult to get used to. “The most difficult is probably when you score against Chelsea and there’s no one there to celebrate with, just the camera. That’s the difficult part.”

It’s been especially difficult for newly promoted side, as their fans would traditionally have given them a boost in their opening fixtures back in the top league.

“With West Brom, we’re back in the Premiership and the fans would be roaring us on and celebrating and helping us along the way which isn’t happening at the moment.

“You take the fans for granted when you’re scoring goals or getting draws with Chelsea at the Hawthorns. We have to just keep playing and keep working hard during these uncertain times.”

Currently, Slovakia have been seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, but in total since March have reported just under 14,000 cases compared to Ireland’s 38,000. But transitioning from the safety of the Premier League bubble to play for your country does carry its worries. “I think everyone is a little bit anxious about catching it which is understandable,” Robinson admitted. “But at the end of the day this is our job. We’re playing for our country, there’s no way I’m not catching a flight to Ireland, to Slovakia, to Finland, there’s no chance I’m missing this”.

As attention turns to Thursday, the players are aware of the potential benefit a victory could have for a country which has had a difficult year off the pitch. “I know that football is helping people’s heads at the moment being at home and watching the games. It gives them a motive to be happy. We know if we win we can put a smile on people’s faces.”


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