Who is really under pressure?

Roberto Mancini

Do you work well under pressure? I’m starting to sweat already just thinking about finishing this blog in time – the clock is ticking and the huge empty page in front of me is a constant reminder that I’ve only just started. Check the word count to see where we’ve got to (61 by the way) and carry on in the hope of reaching the end of the page in one piece.

Adding a large dollop of tension to any situation changes everything. Have you ever thrown a scrunched up ball of paper at a bin? Come on – I’m sure everybody has experienced the pure pleasure of watching the ball fly towards it’s target.

But how many of you have then decided to make things interesting? Declaring – while knowing full well the consequences – that the next throw means something. It usually involves a football team. if this goes in then Arsenal will win (other clubs are available … apparently).

Suddenly the nerves kick in and the and the simplest little throw becomes torturous. You find yourself in the middle of a never ending circle of paper chucking. One innocent throw turns into first to five – first to 10. The first to break down in tears and throw the bin out of the window.

Just imagine how footballers must feel – especially at this time of the season. As we reach the end of the campaign the rules change. When every point is crucial – every game a final – the pressure becomes intense. Not everyone can cope.

Now this is what I prepared for this blog earlier this week…

‘Man City haven’t coped. Alex Ferguson’s ability to build and develop a successful side is incredible – but his ability to mess with the minds of opponents is just as impressive. And once again it seems that the master of the mind games has done it again.’

Oops – classic case of speaking to soon! Man United were eight points clear before losing at Wigan – the gap is now five points between the reds and the light blues of Manchester – and the ‘old friends’ go head to head before the end of the season. Game on…again!

So, who’s going to handle the pressure in the Welsh Prem?

If you’d have asked me last week who was going to win the league I’d have definitely said The New Saints – without a doubt. But again – things have changed. A draw at home to Llanelli is certainly not the worst result in the world – at any other time of the season. But the point on the plastic pitch has opened the door for Bangor – and given them a glimmer of hope. It’s a two point gap with two games to go – both play away this Sunday – before coming face to face in the final game of the season.

Had The Saints won against Llanelli they could have clinched the title at Bala this weekend – the home game against Bangor would have been an excuse for a party. But they now know that it could well go down to the final game for the second season in a row. And if that happens then the nerves – and the doubts will surely return.

Everything could change again of course – both sides are under pressure – but Bangor travel to Neath knowing they’re unexpectedly right back in it. That makes a huge difference.

Mind you – The Saints could be celebrating Sunday night – but I have a feeling that the top two will have a tough weekend and the tussle for the title will go down to the last game. It will then come down to who can handle the pressure – great for the viewers – not so great for the verves of those involved.

It basically boils down to who can get the paper ball in the bin. Best of three?