Football - FA Cup - Semi-Final - Everton FC v Liverpool FC

I DID one of those personality tests at work once. You know, where you answer loads of innocuous questions on what seem like loads of innocuous topics and, at the end of it, someone tells you EXACTLY what you’re like.

So what am I like?

Well it turns out I like pressure, I REALLY like pressure. So much so that the company carrying out the test had rarely seen anyone love pressure so much. Mr Pressure. That’s me. A pathological hatred of planning, projects and any form of organisation whatsoever, but who needs any of that nonsense when you can thrive under pressure, when you can relish the pressure.

I’d sort of always known this, particularly the aversion to planning part, but once I had it confirmed and realised it wasn’t a barrier to success, I started to use it to my advantage. I started to look for ways to put pressure on myself to achieve the best results.

When I gave up smoking after 20 years I told everyone in advance. EVERYONE. “I’m giving up smoking on Monday. Me. No more smoking. Watch.”

It worked. I used it to my advantage. I gave up smoking and was motivated by not wanting to look an idiot in front of all the people I had signalled my intention to.

When I try and sign clients at work, I often pull some people to one side and I tell them “look, I’m going to win this contract. I know we’re not even the favourites to win it, but I’m going to win it”.

This doesn’t always work but I do it to give myself the best chance, to put myself under the most amount of pressure so I can achieve the best performance. As I say it doesn’t always work but I win more than I lose. I win more than if I had a “plan”. I can’t plan.

I run this album club thing which some people, basically me, are saying is the coolest thing on the Internet. (shameless plug – I wrote a piece about the Beatles the other week which was really well received. Some people said it was one of the best things about the Beatles they’ve ever read. That’s lovely.

In a couple of weeks time I writing a piece about The Rolling Stones so I’ve started to tell people it will be better than The Beatles piece, it will wipe the floor with the Beatles piece. I sometimes phone up that Neil Atkinson of this parish and say similar things to him. And he still takes my calls because he sometimes says similar things to me. And I’m now telling you this too and there’s LOADS of you. I do this because it helps me, because it puts me under massive pressure. Which is what I want, it’s exactly what I want. So watch out for that Stones piece, it’s going to be brilliant. Much much better than that Beatles rubbish.

Football - FA Premier League - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC

Brendan Rodgers then.

People are going to say he’s under pressure. People are going to point to a couple of bad results. People are going to look at the top four and say we can’t catch the top four. And people are even going to say that some of his best players are not sure whether they still want to be some of his best players.

And they’d be right.

Those people would be right.

Brendan Rodgers is undoubtedly under pressure but if you’re asking me, Mr Pressure, it’s not enough. Whatever you’re throwing at him at the moment isn’t enough. And whatever YOU throw at him will never be enough.

Because he should feel this pressure every day. He should wake up and relish this pressure. He should wake up tomorrow and say :”We’re going to win the F.A Cup. Starting on Wednesday, we’re going to win the F.A Cup so you better tell all the other teams that are left in it. We’re going to Blackburn, we’ll show them respect but, mark my words, we’re going to wipe the floor with them. Mark my words. We’re going to wipe the floor, THEIR floor, because they had the temerity to take us to a replay, because they have the nerve to think they can keep us, Liverpool, away from Wembley. Well, I admire their attitude but they can’t keep up us away, because we belong at Wembley and this year we’re going to go there twice.

“Yes twice. Mark my words. Once to beat Aston Villa and then again to beat some other team who are frankly wasting their time and everyone else’s by thinking they stop us. Because no one can stop us from winning this, no one can stop the celebration, the Reds in London, the Reds in Liverpool, the Summer Reds, the Best Reds. And don’t even tell me it’s not an important competition, it’s the best cup competition in the world. Mark my words, it’s the best competition in the world. But, yes, I take your point, there are other trophies and once we’ve won this one we’ll win all the others as well. Because that’s what I did on the way back from London on Saturday, I bought a new trophy cabinet, the biggest one in London. And I’ll fill it, mark my words, I’ll fill it. If it’s the last thing I do I’ll fill it. And then I’ll need another one, a bigger one and I’m going to fill that too. At some point we won’t need cabinets, we’ll need houses, massive houses to hold all our trophies”

That’s sort of what I’d say. To myself at first and then maybe out loud. And the win after that would be so much more glorious than if I said nothing. So much more glorious. And that win would set us up for next season, for 38 cup finals, for nine months of pressure. We’d be ready for it, we’d spend all summer waiting for it.

And if I lose? Well I’m going to getting crucified anyway.

So this week shouldn’t be about excuses, about context and about managing expectations.

Forget all that. No one’s interested in that. Embrace the pressure, go for the win. Tell EVERYONE, in no uncertain terms, that you’re going for the win and bring everyone with you.

Losing or winning small are not options.

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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda

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