The new club captain, Jason Puncheon, has written his first matchday programme notes of the season and we give you a chance to read his opening day comments.
Looking back on last week’s final pre-season game against Schalke, I felt the game went well for us despite it being a tale of two halves.
It was a better second half performance from ourselves, and we could have won towards the end, but you can see that we are beginning to get to grips with what the manager is asking of us.
We went into the encounter knowing the quality of their squad who are no strangers to playing in European competitions due to their recent league success, so it was good to see how we competed against them and we showed great character. There is great belief within the squad of what we are trying to do here, so it’s pleasing that we showed our quality as a group.
From the pre-season games, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight one of the lads within the squad, Jason Lokilo. He was training with us and the gaffer decided to give him gametime, and there should be great credit for him because he has come in and taken his chance.
He has a bright future ahead of him, and even though some of you here last Saturday wouldn’t have known too much about him, his performance showed what a good player he can be. Now we need him to carry on his development and take an opportunity to play at first-team level whenever it comes.
We have made some signings which are going to help us and they’ll hopefully play a part in pushing us on as a club. We are also getting encouraging news from the treatment room with players who have had to miss pre-season now getting back into action, which is another plus.
As with any promoted team, our opponents today will have been building up to this first day of the season since winning promotion, and will come into this game with much anticipation and excitement to get the season underway. They will be desperate to get off to a good start, but from our point of view we are at home and want to begin the season off on the right note and put on a performance we can all be proud of. It’s a special day for myself and the family as I lead the side out for the first time as permanent club captain, but the most important thing for me is the team. We have to do the right things following on from our good pre-season, take on board everything that the gaffer wants us to do and show it in the Premier League week in, week out.