‘We’re not bad, just scared!’
Well isn’t that the managers job to ‘unscare’ us?
Valon Behrami has laid bare the psychological pressure facing West Ham United’s players, saying their precarious Premier League position since the beginning of last season has led to them being gripped by fear at times and losing concentration with disastrous consequences.
West Ham narrowly avoided relegation in May, after a nine-month struggle, and are bottom, having lost their opening four matches and taken six points from an available 27. Avram Grant and his players are under huge pressure – the manager has been touted for the sack – but Behrami suggested the Carling Cup had offered them encouragement. West Ham beat Stoke City 3-1 after extra time on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals.
The club made early exits from both the Carling and FA Cups last season, meaning that they could not enjoy any respite from the fight against relegation. Behrami said: “Of course, a good cup run helps because this type of game gives you a positive feeling in your head. It [the problem] is not physical – like against Newcastle, it is just in our head. In the last year, we had a lot of problems. We are sometimes a little bit scared and then sometimes it happens like it did against Newcastle in the second-half. We weren’t there.
“It is a shame because when the team starts to play, they play very well. Sometimes, we are not doing our job for just five minutes, when we are not concentrating, and we lose everything in 45 minutes.
“If you look at the table, it is all negative things. You do not feel well. But in a cup game, it can give you positivity to push forward and give more. We don’t have to look at the table and then you can go and play. It makes us feel good to have targets [in the cup] because last season, we didn’t have that target in the battle against relegation. It is not easy when you start the season like this and we have to challenge in every situation.”
Grant must take his players to Arsenal on Saturday. “We’ve done well against Arsenal at home and away in the last two years so we are positive,” Behrami said. “We just need positivity, passion and I think we can get out of this situation.”