As Liverpool prepare to head to the Olympic Stadium on Sunday for nail-biting match against West Ham United, Gini Wijnaldum is out there disseminating his cool, relaxed vibes. Wijnaldum knows that for the players to pile the pressure of a ‘must-win’ on themselves would be detrimental to actually winning. Instead, the Dutch midfielder says that calm assuredness, confidence and maximum individual effort should win the day.
“I think we have to be relaxed in mind,” Gini said, “and not create a thought like ‘we have to win, we have to win, we have to win,” because there are some things we’re not in control of.
“We control our performance so we have to think about that. I think it’s better to think about how we’re going to beat them.
“In training the manager will show us the way they’re playing, where we have the most chance of scoring goals and what we have to be aware of.
“It’s better to focus on those kinds of things than winning the game because it’s not easy to win a game.”
Liverpool will slide into London having won their previous three away games against Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Watford. But this stretch of games also includes a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace and the dry Southampton draw at Anfield. And it’s this topsy-turvy form through the run-in that has ensured these final two games come with the extra heaps of pressure that we’re trying so hard to be relaxed about in the first place.
“The only pressure you have to put on yourself is to use your quality and try to perform as good as possible,” continued Gini.
Each contest has unique challenges and while a team’s winning confidence is key, the game is full of surprises. Tottenham, in a fun twist of fate, just suffered a shock loss to West Ham that effectively ended their pressure on Chelsea for the Premier League trophy. Surprise.
But Gini believes it’s the sharp, cool-headed mindset that can have a greater effect on a game and give Liverpool better control over their destiny in the push for Champions League qualification.
“Every game is different, every result is different,” said Wijnaldum.
“I think the message for us is that we have to be spot on and 100 percent concentrated from the beginning, because otherwise it’s going to be really difficult.”
Not exactly the rallying cry we were hoping for, Gini. But, I do appreciate the pragmatism. Also, please score one of those famous away goals of yours. Thanks in advance.