IAN Holloway has warned Pool fans not to go overboard about the importance of Saturday’s derby at Blackburn.
With the teams locked on 32 points, just one above the Premier League relegation zone, the fixture is already being talked up and some are deeming it a must-win for both clubs.
Holloway is having none of that.
Back on the training ground with the players today after a weekend break in Scotland to celebrate his 48th birthday, Holloway insists safety will still be well within his team’s grasp if they lose at Ewood Park.
The manager said: “I think the (idea of) so-called crucial, bigger games is rubbish. I think it is nonsense. It is a fan thing.
“If I went into my dressing room before the Blackburn match and said to my lads, ‘We’ve got to win this. It is the most important game of the season and we have to do it’, then how would we be able to play? They would be a bag of nerves. You can’t think of the result.
“Last season we didn’t talk up any of the games in our run-in. We knew they were all massive and we had virtually no failure option if we wanted to get to the play-offs and promoted.
“But it is totally different this time. I think we can lose seven of our last nine, win the other two and possibly stay up.
“So if Blackburn beat us, fair enough it wouldn’t be the best but we would still be living and fighting and kicking.
“By the same token, does beating Blackburn and going three points above them guarantee us staying up? No.
“It is great for the fans to think and say what they want, but we have nine cup finals left to play. Saturday is one of those but I don’t even want to think about what the score might be.
“I’ve got to think of who we are playing, how they play, what they can do, how we can score against them and who I can pick to win, then try to get them as well practised as possible.”
Holloway believes that survival could hinge on confidence and he plans to hold a team meeting this week to ensure his players all fully believe they can stay up.