Nerves get to the best of us. We could be going for a job interview or simply heading out on a first date, but those butterflies in the stomach are a sure sign that what lies ahead is important.
People deal with pressure differently, and on Sunday when the players march out at St Andrews, some will rise to the occasion more than others. Once Garry Monk names his eleven and sends them out onto the pitch, there is only so much left he can do.
As fans, we will be suffering many of the same anxieties, but one of the things we do have in our favour on the last day is that we will be at home. A sell out means we have the opportunity to settle the nerves of the players on the pitch.
The manager said “fear” played a massive part last time out as we wilted against QPR and failed to secure safety. The supporters need to help lift that fear against Fulham and inspire them to play with a sense of freedom.
There should be no nervous looks at watches, or checking other results, a point is what we need no matter what happens elsewhere. Still, it’s vitally important that we drive this team forward on the day, rather than anxiously hoping for a 0-0.
I have advocated playing 4-5-1, but that is not because I want us to shut up shop, I want us to be able to control the game against a team who desperately need three points to have a chance of automatic promotion.
Our opponents will look to push us back at every opportunity in the search for goals, and if we allow them to, they will dominate possession and force us deeper and deeper. Nerves and anxiety will only increase both among the players and the crowd if that happens.
If we can get behind them, and inspire them to close the opposition down quickly, winning the ball back early, we can get a platform to secure the result we need.
No nervous looks to see what’s going on elsewhere. No thoughts about possible permutations for being relegated. Let’s not think about just getting a draw on Sunday, let’s make sure this team gets over the line by being positive like they’ve been so much of the time under Monk.