Pompey‘s play-off campaign starts on Thursday night with Plymouth Argyle visiting Fratton Park – A nervous Alan Knight reflects...
All week I’ve had this horrible, knotted feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The nerves have arrived – and tomorrow night our play-off campaign kicks off.
How I feel at the moment is not meant to be disrespectful to Pompey’s players, it definitely does not mean I expect them to struggle.
Yet even in my playing days – regardless of age – I would get nervous before games.
If you can go out there without nerves then you will have taken the foot off the pedal. Besides, I knew how bad I was, that is why I got butterflies!
You really cannot call these two games against Plymouth, they are two cup finals before the main cup final. These are unique occasions.
Following a long, hard season you have to go again, time to motivate and lift the players to cope with the return of great pressure.
I am not a great lover of the play-offs, but can recognise the significance of these forthcoming matches to the future of this football club.
At least as a player the nerves go once you are out there playing, focusing on what you have to achieve. The pressure has gone, it is then doing something about it.
Watching as a supporter, manager, coach or whatever, once that whistle goes you cannot do anything about it.
Nobody needs to be reminded what is at stake here. There is a way out of League Two – and one of four clubs involved will be leaving it behind.
Can we beat Plymouth? Well, I am not going to say anything which could be used in their pre-match talk. I have seen far too many people pin things on walls during a build-up as motivational techniques!
This is going to be a tight affair – but we do have good players.
Of course, the quality Paul Cook has at his disposal is reflected in the player of the season vote at this time of year.
Pompey have plenty of candidates and that tells its own tale. You would only consider good players – and there are a number I believe deserve credit.
Ben Davies has that never-say-die attitude which will always go down well with the Fratton faithful, Enda Stevens has pulled off quite an achievement to play in all but one league match.
Danny Hollands has gone under the radar but been instrumental in this team, very solid with excellent distribution and not let anyone down.
But I’m going for Michael Doyle as my choice.
In the past we have struggled for a proper captain and a leader – Paul Robinson aside – but he has been fantastic, playing through injuries and leading by example.