Mental resolve

Friday 5 April 2002

Steve Finnan has said that the Whites must regain their mental focus ahead of Monday's clash at St James' Park Newcastle.

Speaking on his personal website at icons.com he said:

"Picking up just one point over Easter weekend was a massive disappointment and I've got to admit our confidence has taken a bit of a nosedive recently. The reality of life in the Premiership has hit us all square between the eyes recently and we've now got to dig really deep to get ourselves out this hole.

"To be honest, when we drew with Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday I thought we had turned the corner after losing six league games on the bounce but we were brought down to earth with a bump on Monday when West Ham beat us at the Cottage. Now we are in deep trouble and we desperately need a win.

"At this stage, I don't think any of us care how we get three points as long as we get back to winning ways. The style in which we play now is irrelevant and I'd happily settle for a deflected winner in injury time if it meant we got the right result.

"It's hard to pinpoint why things have gone quite so wrong in the past couple of months but I think at least in part we've relaxed mentally.

"The Premiership is as much about mental toughness as it is physical strength or talent and although nobody started to believe we had the right to be in this division, perhaps we thought we'd made the 'breakthrough'.

"What we've learnt in the past few weeks is that you've got to have the same level of focus in every single game, home or away, whether it be against Manchester United or one of the bottom three clubs. You just can't afford to ease off at any stage or against any opposition. So, yes, the nerves are setting in but we've got to draw confidence from our form earlier in the season because it was then that we proved, especially to ourselves, that we can compete at this level.

"Any team that can go on a seven-match unbeaten run in the Premiership, as we did,
must have something about them and it's important that we don't forget that."