A lot has been written about the struggles of Newcastle United against the so-called lesser teams, while the players are able to strut their stuff against Premier League big guns on home soil.
One argument doing the rounds is that the Newcastle United players simply aren’t trying against the Watfords and Sheff Weds of this world, but they then sweat blood when a top four team comes calling.
Mourinho alluded to this in his post-match presser, although there sits a manager who has fashioned himself as ‘special’ and can say these things in the media to deflect attention when his team doesn’t fire on all cylinders.
The notion is that our players, most of them imports it has to be said, will turn it on to get noticed by TV audiences, scouts and bigger clubs, who are more likely to be watching when the game has that global live audience.
To an extent this is true.
A few see the club as a stepping stone, though not many have secured that big move. Only Cabaye to PSG, but his Champions League dream turned sour.
The problem is a mental one.
I know the club has Steve Black there now, who is great for sports psychology and I hope he’s a success, but the players in some games look like they’re putting themselves under too much pressure. They’re all getting nasty cases of stage fright when a match looks like it should be a banker.
When the glamour tie comes round, and most fans are sat there with fingers crossed praying to keep the score down, they go out and play some great stuff with less weight on their shoulders.
It’s that nothing to lose mentality, so just go out and give it a right good go. It almost paid off against Chelsea. We were really unlucky not to walk off with three points.
In all sports, pressure can do funny things. Our players seem to feel it more when they’re expected to do the business. This is where McClaren and his staff have to earn their money. They have to find a way to generate belief and confidence.
The Chelsea game has undoubtedly been a big help, but when Norwich arrive at SJP will we be back to panic mode?
A win is desperately needed now and that in itself will create the pressure.
Players can feel it from the stands too, though the support cannot be faulted. It’s been magnificent.
Steve McClaren needs to build that mental toughness. They’ll certainly need it, what with still being in that bottom three and all that.
Pressure? What pressure?
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