Saturday, 14 April 2007

The Pips Are Squeaking

There are just hours to go before Sheffield United entertain West Ham at Brammal Lane and the pressure is squeezing so hard the pips have started to squeak. According to an article in The Times, Ted Warnock is banking on a mental help act to help his side cope with the occasion. The Blades boss has enlisted a team of motivational experts to encourage his players to envisage how it will feel to retain their status. Striker Jon Stead explains: "We picture doing what we want to do. For me, I’ve been through a few torrid times and so it’s good to picture the good times: when everyone’s on the plane, going on holiday, with a big smile on [his] face, thinking, ‘Yes, we’re playing in the Premier League next season’. Me? I’m on the plane first, then on the beach, then in the bar. Everyone’s on that visualisation trip now, picturing what they want to do and where they want to be in a month’s time.” This pseudoscience shtick doesn't even work; I've been cosmic ordering a ruinous night with Keira Knightley for weeks and still not a sausage.

Further Warnock ramblings can be found in The Sun where northern clubs get a rough deal when it comes to dodgy decisions; in The Telegraph, where the dressing-room unity at Sheffield United will see them to safety, and in his column in The Independent where he promises a fantastic crowd. Warnock writes: "I'm sure both groups of fans will be nervous. Personally, I think it is better playing teams with just as much to lose as us, like Newcastle last week. After winning at Arsenal, West Ham must be thinking they can't lose another game. Alan Curbishley said this week, "They go into every game thinking they will win", and you can understand. All this started with the Devine intervention at Blackburn, followed by a couple of ricochets against Middlesbrough, then an offside goal last week. No wonder Alan's not too bothered. They were also fortunate when we went there and had an equaliser chalked off in injury time. People keep telling me things even out so hopefully they will in these last six games. I don't mind being battered today and coming out with the points because it is that time when points matter more than the performance."

In the same paper, rugged defender James Collins has articulated his determination to prove he has the style to keep West Ham in the Premiership. The article states Collins has found his chances limited at West Ham since signing from Cardiff in the summer of 2005. But after putting a run of injuries behind him he is developing into a key figure in the Hammers' late charge for survival. "I still have a bit to prove to West Ham fans," admits Ginge. "Coming up to the FA Cup final last season I played somewhere near where I can but I haven't been anywhere near the level I know I can play at. Hopefully two clean sheets in the last two games will have shown them something. Everyone's buzzing with the three points from the Arsenal game and there is no reason why we can't take the confidence into tomorrow. Tomorrow's game is absolutely massive. It's a six-pointer. If we win we are right back in the fight." Alan Curbishley is effusive in his praise of the young defender. He said: "I am glad he has come back into the team. He has brought some aggression, enthusiasm and freshness to the team."

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