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I’d rather be in Leeds or Leicester’s shoes on the final day than Everton’s – it will be catastrophic if they go down

IT WILL be catastrophic if Everton get relegated this weekend.

They are a huge club and to taste the drop for the first time in 72 years would be disastrous.

Everton are dealing with the most pressure heading to the Premier League’s final day

On paper you want to be in Goodison boss Sean Dyche’s shoes going into this final day with a slight advantage over Leeds and Leicester, facing a Bournemouth team who are safe as houses.

But it will not be that simple. If Everton let the Cherries play, they will dominate the ball and cause a lot of problems and really hurt them.

I can see a scenario where Everton could either win comfortably — or lose comfortably and then everything is wide open.

I know Dyche’s boys can afford not to win and still stay up, but imagine holding out for a draw and then Leicester go and snatch a late goal?  Gut-wrenching.

That’s why, in a strange way, you’d almost prefer to be in the shoes of Leicester or Leeds. You know what you need to do — win — and then pray for a miracle.

When you know you can afford to win, lose or draw, that can play games with your mind. Do I really need to go in for this tackle? Do I really need to push on and attack?

Out of the three, I see Leicester’s game as a good one, against a West Ham side who have a European final to prepare for and just want  to coast through with no injuries.

Leeds have it toughest, no doubt. They need a swing of goals going for them and they need to get on the front foot from the first minute against Tottenham.

But just imagine how hostile Goodison Park, Elland Road and the King Power Stadium will be. The fans will be nervous. The players will be nervous.

You need to start well or it turns nasty and then nine times out of ten it is game over. Few players rise to the challenge in those circumstances.

The worst thing you can do as a player in these situations is overthink it. It doesn’t just start at breakfast on the morning of the game.

It starts two days before, over- thinking every scenario, figuring out in your squad who wants it and who is on board and who isn’t.

Troy Deeney insists Leeds and Leicester will have it better than Everton

Whenever there is a big game, that week leading up to it would bring  a different intensity. You get some people who train two or three days before like it is the game with full tempo, it is brilliant.

There are also some who have some nerves, and they get a little kick and they are rubbing their ankle or stretching their hamstring a bit more.

You then start thinking: “He doesn’t fancy it. He is going to crumble.”

It sounds strange but not everyone in a fight-for-your-lives situation is up for it. There are fears and emotions. 

Leeds need to beat Tottenham on Sunday and hope Everton will slip against Bournemouth and Leicester fail to beat West Ham

They will want to play but won’t want to be the guy that gets the  club relegated because of a mistake or embarrasses himself.

It is the over complicating of things that is the killer.

That’s what we did with Watford when we went to the Emirates on the last day of the 2019-2020 season needing to beat Arsenal and match Aston Villa’s result at West Ham.

In the first 20 minutes we were 3-0 down. We got it back to 3-2 and probably should have won the game in hindsight.

Leicester will have to beat West Ham to avoid relegation to the Championship

The difficulty for us was there was no crowd due to the pandemic, so we heard everything from the bench on what was happening in the other game.

Staff members had it on their phones and were sharing it constantly. It was carnage — you’re thinking: “What if we do get relegated?”, on top of the pressure to win.

It is better just not to know. We got to 3-2 and there was a drinks break straight after with 15 minutes to go.

Instead of us being on a high after just scoring and just getting back out there and continuing to play how we were playing, our thought was: “S**t we need to score immediately” and we left ourselves open.

We had Hayden Mullins on the touchline as Nigel Pearson had just been sacked. I am confident we would have stayed up had Nigel been kept on, but the club panicked.

That is nothing against Hayden, he did really well given the madness behind the scenes.

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