Glenn's Challenge

Glenn Roeder says that getting his side to improve their away form will be a priority next season.

With just three away wins to their name last season, Glenn knows only too well that the travelling sickness must be resolved, and insists:

"I would say the bottom line away from home is that you should be taking a point a game, a minimum of 19 points from your 19 games.

"We only achieved 13, which wasn't satisfactory, but then again 40 points at home, fortunately for us, was Champions' League form.

"Somehow we have got to retain those results at home but be very mindful of picking up more points away from home.

"Funnily enough, towards the end of last season, I thought we had some better performances away.

"The Fulham and Tottenham performances come to mind, and although we lost the last two away games, we took the champions all the way to 77 minutes before they could break us down and I know for a fact from the Arsenal dressing room that they were dumbfounded at how hard they found it to break us down on the night.

"They couldn't understand how we fought so hard, when in their opinion we had little to play for - but that shows you the team spirit we had last season."

Glenn will have the first day of the season to see whether there is an improvement in the away form, with a trip to Newcastle - and the hope of overturning the last away defeat of last term.

"The first 45 minutes up there were probably the best we played all year; the fact that we came in 1-1 instead of three or four-one up, which would have been justified by the performance, was disappointing.

"Then, of course, we ended up losing the game with a couple of sloppy goals.

"But I was really pleased with the overall performances at the end of the season and that is something for us to really build on next year.

"It goes without saying that we have to be a lot tighter away from home and we might have to be a lot more defensive minded, not so cavalier the way we are at home sometimes.

"We will have to dig out results way from home, sitting tight, see if the home team can break us down - and then play on the counter attack.

"At home you have to be a little bit more brave and attack things.

"I know for a fact that Arsene Wenger was very surprised at how hard they found it to break us down, and it was a back handed complement that what he couldn't understand was this fighting spirit throughout the game.

"It took a magnificent through ball from Denis Bergkamp and a great finish from Freddie Ljungberg to take the lead.

"It was very disappointing not to take a point at Highbury, never mind the sacrilege at not taking all three points at St. James' Park.

"The first words Bobby Robson said to me after that game were 'you let us off the hook.'

"That says it all; but for us, we showed improved away form and it was good that we kept the motivation going right to the end of the season, when clubs at the middle of the table were falling away and not picking points up.

"We really kept going in those last five games and were unfortunate to lose those two away games."

Maintaining the home form will be another challenge for Glenn, who of course celebrated a late winner from Ian Pearce against Bolton on the last day of the campaign to confirm that seventh placing.

"That late winner on the last day of the season epitomised the team spirit we had last season," he says.