PRESSURE is a strange thing. It makes you do things that are completely out of character – such as scoring a last-minute winner, in the case of Andy Carroll.
Pressure makes you say the strangest things too – in the case of Kenny Dalglish, who eulogised Andy’s unique contribution against Blackburn on Tuesday night by declaring, tongue presumably buried in creviced Glaswegian cheek: “He’s been magnificent. He’s done that for us in many games this year...”
Kenny should consider a crash course in maths. But enough ’Pool bashing – they’re an easy target. And besides, Kenny isn’t the only manager who responds to pressure with statements bordering on the bizarre.
Step into the, ahem, dock, Harry Redknapp. Just a couple of months back, ’Appy ’Arry was the flavour of February – leading Spurs towards the Champions’ League (or, whisper it, Premier League coronation), outfoxing the Crown Prosecution and simultaneously becoming England’s saviour-in-waiting.
Now, suddenly, he’s the muddling manager of Tottering Clotspurs. Never mind usurping two halves of Manchester, they could yet finish up as third team in London and behind Newcastle. The dithering blazers of the FA may have to dither some more – and opt for another non-English speaking supremo, but enough of Kenny.
Losing so lamely to Norwich on Monday has prompted a multitude of Spurs-supporting cyber-critics to deride Harry’s appreciation of ‘tactics’.
Short memories, eh? Perhaps, but Harry has provided plenty of ammunition. Thus, after a mini-revival that spawned a draw at Chelsea and wins over Bolton (FA Cup) and Swansea, Harry was espousing the virtues of his latest favourite formation – 4-2-3-1.
“It’s hard to play 4-4-2 these days. You can get away with it sometimes, when you are on top of games. But against better teams, when they play three in there, it can make it very difficult,” he declared.
What happens? Harry reverts to good old-fashioned 4-4-2 against Norwich. Cue disaster and the following admission: “It’s an attacking system, but I felt we’ve looked stronger recently with 4-3-3.”
All of which begs the question: whose bright idea was it to make the change? Daniel Levy, Arsene Wenger or, per chance, the next manager of England? Pressure? Just ask Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who responded to Chelsea’s double-whammy of grand larceny last Saturday – winning via two offside goals – by declaring: “The linesman had a disgusting performance.” Mind you, his comments were entirely logical.
SPEAKING of pressure, the Meath footballers know all about the swings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. But we’re struggling to grasp the logic of Cian Ward in explaining why they have tumbled into Division Three.
Meath, you may recall, won their first two NFL outings before Kildare edged an early March classic at the death. But what had happened just before Ollie Lyons broke Royal hearts? “Shane McAnarney gets a two hands push in the back, he hits the post, they go down and get the winning point,” Ward was quoted this week.
“If the referee does his job and gives us the free, to score, we win the game and we’re on six points. The same the following week against Galway, we lost by a point when we had a chance to win the game. Both games we lost in the third minute of injury-time. If we’d won both of those games, we’d have been promoted before we’d even gone to play Derry in Navan.”
And then, of course, they wouldn’t have lost to Derry; or being tanked in Tyrone; or embarrassed themselves at home to Louth. Never!