Writer: Mike Field
Date:Monday March 10 2008
Martin O'Neill has called this week a potentially pivotal few days in our season as we entertain Boro and Pompey with only a few hours in reality between them.
I would've mixed this article into the former MON one if I'd realised, but rather than talking generally about our hopes for the season this one probably deserves it's own slot given the content anyway.
Speaking on the official site O'Neill has previously commented on the wonders of taking the mid seasonish break to recharge batteries and the benefits of giving players bulk time off when no games are scheduled, but here he talks about the downside of missing games and then being in a position of playing catchup.
Over a 3 day period this week we face a Boro team who will be determined to put their Cup nightmare behind them, and then a Pompey team who are probably still merry after their fantastic win over the whingers from Manc Land.
'It's a massive week. We've got two games in three days and I think it's a very important time for us.
'Everything's important anyway, but it's magnified now because we don't have the time or the games to put it right if it goes wrong.
'Whereas before if it was mid-season, you think 'oh well' and move to the next game and put it right. Now it's down to the real crunch time - we've got 10 games left and we need to win quite a few of them.'
There probably isn't a worse time to play both teams. Boro will be looking to bounce back and Pompey have b een on form and dangerous all season, so with the boost of confidence they will now have we will certainly have a struggle on our hands.
Ideally we want to be taking 6 points. Realistically I don't see at this stage that 4 points would be enough to keep in the Euro hunt. 2-3 points only certainly isn't with the 8 point gap.
'Is it potentially pivotal? I do feel it's a very important week in terms of our hopes because after we play Portsmouth, we're down to eight games. And while there are still 24 points available from eight games, it becomes less room for error.'
Speaking about the break in true MON style lots will see this as him giving the team an out if things go wrong - I somehow doubt he has been making the same comments to them!
'The negative about the break is that teams were given a chance to get ahead of us. Psychologically it can be better if you're not playing catch-up all the time.
'But at the same time I don't think we can worry too much about what's happening elsewhere. So I'm not overly concerned about it.
'The one issue is that after a break we've now got two games in three days. But I suppose we should be fresher than Middlesbrough, who were in FA Cup action.
'The fact is that the break couldn't be avoided and therefore we've just got to deal with it.'
It's going to be a fun packed final 10 games isn't it boys and girls!
Date:Monday March 10 2008
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