Ben Burgess column: Pivotal time for Pool to beat the pressure

I discussed pressure in last week's column, and how important it is that players and managers can handle it.

Friday, 14th April 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:41 pm
Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess

Chelsea have dealt with it in fantastic style, beating Manchester City and Bournemouth in the space of a few days.

Unfortunately, Blackpool have not, after they made it two defeats on the bounce with a surprising 3-1 home defeat against Grimsby last weekend.

Playing teams like Grimsby, who are in mid-table obscurity, can be much trickier than it seems on paper. Their players can relax and play with freedom and we all know that relaxed players often perform better than those who are tense and worried about the consequences of mistakes.

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Whilst we are all tucking into our Easter eggs this weekend, Gary Bowyer’s men have a pivotal couple of games.

I always enjoyed Easter weekend football fixtures and if you asked most players they would say that their preference is to play more games than train.

The game today at home to Accrington Stanley will be an absolute cracker.

Stanley have won their last three games and have gone from relegation trouble to play-off hopefuls.

In fact, if they beat the Seasiders they will move above them in the table, which makes the tie even more mouth-watering.

Accrington manager John Coleman has worked miracles with the club.

I don’t think people realise how small their budget is compared to the other teams in the division and especially the likes of Blackpool. Stanley were unbearably close to going up last season on the final day.

They then had the disappointment of defeat in the play-offs to deal with as well.

They did appear to still have that frustrating end to the season in their heads at the start of this campaign, but they have well and truly got over it now.

The Blackpool players will also see these two games as an opportunity to put right the last two performances and cement their own place in the play-offs. Monday’s game is away at Doncaster, a ground I have fond memories of.

Under Ian Holloway, we had an absolute humdinger of a game with Donny that ended 3-3.

I recall scoring one of my better goals that day and a young Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored a beauty. Sadly, it was Blackpool’s age-old nemesis, Billy Sharp, who scored the late equaliser.

I’m sure Gary Bowyer would happily take a boring 1-0 victory for his side instead of another six-goal thriller. Doncaster have already been promoted, so hopefully they will have completely taken their foot off the gas by the time Blackpool arrive.

Two managers making the headlines for the wrong reasons in the last few weeks are David Moyes and Arsene Wenger.

Moyes had his strange verbal exchange with a female BBC reporter that appeared more awkward than sinister.

There have been calls for him to be sacked for his comments but, putting that to one side, it was Moyes’ comments at the start of the season that he should be sacked for.

Having just taken over at the Stadium of Light he declared, in his opening interview, when he had the chance to inspire and capture the imagination of the fans and his players, that it would be a tough battle against relegation this season.

Straight away he put limits on his team’s ambitions. Yes, they may have struggled near the bottom but if they were inspired, motivated and coached well, then there would have been no reason why they couldn’t finish mid-table, where the likes of Watford and Burnley find themselves.

Wenger is another victim of his own lack of ambition. For too long Arsenal have seen finishing in the top four as a successful season, so each year the players’ standards are lower.

Instead of fighting for the title and viewing a fourth-placed finish as a consolation prize, they now battle for fourth and will probably finish sixth.

There’s a saying I use in teaching which sums these two managers up nicely: What you permit, you promote.