There's a fascinating article in the Mail on Scott Parker. In it, Scotty comes across as a thoroughly decent guy and comes close to admitting that he won the Player of the Year award by default. It is touching to read about the death of his father, particularly, in my case, because it mirrors almost exactly the death of my father - same age in the case of father and son, same prolonged illness, same morphine to combat the pain, same getting on with the job afterwards.
The most interesting thing about the article for me, however, is the credit Parker gives to Sports Psychologist Mike Griffiths, who he reveals was brought in two years ago. Two years ago? How many seasons have we been struggling for? It's two years now isn't it?
Parker talks about how "mental weakness" can "decapitate" a player and that players don't want to admit to this weakness. He then eulogises Griffiths, suggesting that he has helped "massively".
But the facts do not support what Parker is saying. For two years now, we have all moaned about the mental fragility of the players, of how they panic at the first hint of adversity. Look at them yesterday. We were not playing as a team, there were eleven individuals out there and every single one of them was in a state of panic from the moment Blackburn scored. And that has been the case, game after game for two years now.
So what is Griffiths doing exactly? Teaching Parker and his team mates not to worry if they give the ball away "three times on the bounce" in Parker's words. Well they should be worrying if they give the ball away three times on the bounce because in the Prem, that means you are going to lose!
Look at Cole yesterday. He was shot in terms of confidence. He had that half chance before Blackburn scored and he dwelt on the ball, allowing Samba to get a foot in. A confident Cole would have swung his boot. Look at Hitz who didn't even have the confidence to take that free kick. Why in God's name was da Costa allowed to blast it into the wall when the ball had "Hit me Hitz" written all over it?
What good has Griffiths done for Green? When did his form dip? Would it be about two years ago? And Upson? When did he start to look like a rabbit caught in the headlights? About two years ago? When did Sears lose his way? About two years ago? When did Behrami's form nose dive? About two year's ago?
Parker may feel that Griffiths has helped but Griffiths is no doubt very convincing when it comes to justifying his own worth but the facts scream something very different. Before Griffiths arrived, the team were playing with confidence and a carefree attitude. Remember that goal at Wigan? Post Griffiths' arrival, the team has acted out deep seated nightmares week after week after week.
It seems obvious to me that a team that is "too good to go down" has deep psychological problems, mental scars that results in them freezing and panicking in adversity. Our Cup performances showed what we can do when the pressure is off; it is pressure that destroys this team. So what good is Griffiths doing exactly?
The evidence suggests he is doing a hell of a lot of damage!