Jayson Molumby says playing soccer without fans during Covid was 'horrible’
“Personally I didn’t feel I’d played for my country with no fans. It just felt so strange. It didn’t feel like I’d played for my country.”
Jayson Molumby believes that the Ireland team has managed to put the bite back into their game with a side that is now peaking at the end of the Nations League campaign.
The Waterford native has managed to secure first team football for himself since his summer move from Brighton to West Brom, making a loan move permanent for a fee of £900,000, and while the season has not gone to play for the Baggies, Molumby is finding form.
He admits he's had lows as well as highs in his 14-game Ireland career, including a difficult spell of playing in front of empty stadiums due to Covid-19 restrictions, when for him international football didn't seem real, but he claims the team have come back from their poor form, with hopes of another win over Scotland when they play in Glasgow on Saturday.
"We didn't get off to a great start, I think everyone knows that. But we made some good changes for the Scotland and Ukraine games. There have been a lot of positives over the last couple of months," says Molumby.
"We've maybe got away from what it is being Irish in that level of aggressiveness and desire. Because, all of a sudden, we're playing nice football. So I think it's about finding the balance.
"I'm hoping that we're starting to peak, starting to get a bit of consistency and form going now. Starting on Saturday, we need to continue in the way we played in the last two games. It will be a good experience but nothing that we have not faced before. I'd expect them to feel a bit hurt after the last game, they should probably feel like that. I'd obviously expect a fast game, we're all up for it and we're raring to go.
"The last day at The Aviva against Scotland, the atmosphere was something that I've never experienced before. I don't think they will be able to match that atmosphere at Hampden," added Molumby, who started in that 3-0 win over the Scots in Dublin.
"I feel like I came in against Scotland and I felt that I did okay. I felt that I did well and I was happy enough with my performance. Against Ukraine, I probably didn't affect the game as much.
"Football has its ups and downs, players come into form and players fall out of form so it's always changing and evolving. For me, I came in early and, to be honest, maybe some of my performances at the start were not up to scratch. I wasn't playing at club level quite often. Now I feel that I'm playing at club level week-in, week-in. I feel confident, feel ready and that I'm after maturing. That's for me personally.
"I think I’m a lot more mature now, in every shape and form. When I first came in to play for Ireland against Finland there were no fans at the Aviva. Since I was a kid, the goal was only playing for your country. You had a vision of packed out Aviva. For a player, it’s what you dream of. It was a really strange experience. Personally I didn’t feel I’d played for my country with no fans. It just felt so strange. It didn’t feel like I’d played for my country.
"We ended up playing ten/eleven games with no fans. It was horrible. The fans are massive. They can get the best out of you. It’s an unbelievable feeling having fans, it gives you that extra boost as a player."
A lot has happened since he was last on international duty as Molumby ended his time with Brighton and moved to WBA, while the manager who gave him his chance with the Seagulls, Graham Potter, is now in charge of Chelsea.
"It just came to that stage in my career. Initially I stayed in for six months before going on loan to Preston. I didn't end up getting to play as much as I wanted at Brighton.
"So I went out on loan and I just came to a decision, West Brom came in and I decided to take it. I was happy and it was the right move for me. I was 21 and needed to get out and try to find myself and play regularly," he adds, admitting that the season has not gone as well as Baggies fans would like, with Steve Bruce under serious pressure.
"It's been difficult I suppose because we have not got the results that we wanted. To be honest, you need a bit of luck in football and I don't think that we've had it," says Molumby.
"The table speaks for itself and we're in a business where we need to win games and climb up the table. But if you have watched the ten games then there is no way that we should be where we are. That is how it is, that's football. There are areas where we need to do better in."
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