Martin Smith

Smith says...

by Martin Smith

Columnist: 'Rose has been nothing short of outstanding'

The win over Reading was a big one in midweek and we reaped the rewards of the early goal.

In six-pointers like that you never want to give the opposition any encouragement and you could sense that the players were bang up for it.

We started well and that breakthrough was huge. We’ve played well in spells in a number of games this season but we put it together for longer periods on Tuesday.

Hopefully that result will breed confidence ahead of the Manchester United game this weekend.

It was good to see different players scoring, too, and James McClean did well for his goal.

It was probably James’ best performance of the season. Scoring early really does give you a confidence boost and he was trying lots of different things throughout the game.

He came in last season and hit the ground running and didn’t really get a chance to put his feet up over the summer.

Maybe things caught up with him but perhaps the time James has had out of the side will do him good.

Steven Fletcher’s goal was a fantastic poacher’s finish too after some great play by Danny Rose, who has been nothing short of outstanding.

You can see the quality he’s got. Danny is full on enthusiasm, gets up and down and puts good quality balls into the box.

When he gets the ball with 20 or 25 yards of goal you think he could hit a shot and he’s been unlucky not to score for us. It would be magnificent if he could stay.

Danny’s been a breath of fresh air – I’d probably say he’s been our star man this season along with Simon Mignolet.

And so on to this weekend’s game against a Manchester United side who have undoubted quality.

They had a great win last week and showed the character to secure an away win with a late goal.

We know it’s not going to be easy and Simon will probably have to have a nine out of 10 day.

You can do all the homework you like, but if United’s forward players turn it on they’re pretty hard to stop.

We need to take a couple of chances when they come along.

Football isn’t won on paper, though – anything can happen, so we must go there and believe.