On the Ball

With Richard Langley WITH the end of the season in sight, the importance of each game is growing to everyone in the league, whether at the top or the bottom. The key will be who can deal with this incredible amount of pressure with the finish line just si

With Richard Langley

WITH the end of the season in sight, the importance of each game is growing to everyone in the league, whether at the top or the bottom. The key will be who can deal with this incredible amount of pressure with the finish line just six weeks away.

Looking at performances of teams all over the country, I really believe that their games are affected, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Teams at the top who have been leading all season and can see silverware or promotion in sight, all of a sudden have something to lose and are desperate not to let go of it.


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It changes players from producing the free flowing football that they have done for months up until now, and they start to make uncharacteristic mistakes all over the pitch. The tension is apparent and, combined with the obvious anxiety, you get the kind of unexpected results we have been seeing recently.

Wolves had a surprising drop in form, as did Birmingham. In the Premier League, you have even the best teams succumbing to that aforementioned pressure. Manchester United have proven world-class talents and I am sure will handle it better than most, as they have done over the years. It is the teams with their lack of experience who could miss out.

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An example that stands out is that of Watford last year. Cruising through the season at the top of the Championship, with the biggest league in the world awaiting them, they suddenly faltered, and scraped into the play-offs that ended in disappointment.

At the other end of the table you will see teams go on a great winning streak, yet they have played most of the season struggling for points. I know there are other factors involved, but the one discussed here will play a vital part.

Being in a position where you have nothing to lose is not so bad at this time of the year - a position I feel QPR are in. Although they seem a long way from the play-offs, they are still in touching distance and there is nothing expected of them.

With the expectancy level now dropping, it may be the perfect time for QPR to be playing with what appears to be an injection of confidence - and they may well gain the momentum to pip the rest to the finish line.

IF you have any questions or comments to put to Richard, you can email us at nwl.sport@archant.co.uk

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