Lack of belief has cost the Sheffield clubs - Sue Smith

I saw Sheffield Wednesday twice last week and their 1-1 draw with Bristol City was an absolute kick in the teeth.

Maybe it is my love for the underdog but I am rooting for them to pull off a great escape from Championship relegation and hoping the midweek win over Blackburn Rovers restores some of the belief so obviously missing from them and their Sheffield neighbours this season.

It would be awful if their six-point deduction for breaching financial fair play was the difference between the Owls going down and staying up.

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They were ahead for 83 minutes last Saturday in a game I covered for Sky Sports. In every update in that time I felt they were in control.

Keiren Westwood: Vital save. Picture: Steve Ellis

I am sure the players are conscious of all the times they have thrown away leads and it would have been in the back of their minds they were going to be punished if they did not score a second goal.

I know I was.

Although Bristol City did not carry much threat after having a man sent off after 20 minutes, they still had players who can do something.

Barry Bannan failed to score a penalty for the first time in his club career and Tyreeq Bakinson scored an 87th-minute equaliser.

When I covered them again on Tuesday, I felt like they took that into the first 20 minutes because they were flat. Eventually they got into the stride, were the better side and won but at 1-0 Blackburn had one really good opportunity when John Buckley was one-v-one with Keiren Westwood and I thought: ‘The same thing’s going to happen here, they’re going to concede a goal and drop two points.’

Thankfully for them, Westwood saved and they held out for a win which hopefully helps them today against Middlesbrough.

My only relegation was with Doncaster Belles when we did not meet the Women’s Super League criteria but I played for an England team who had a mental block against Germany. We just could not beat them.

We worked closely with a psychologist before Euro 2009, where we faced them in the final. We did so much talking about how we should believe we were good enough and I felt that was the first time we went onto the pitch thinking we could beat them. We heard they already had a party planned for their victory and were fired up by that.

But all our coping strategies went out of the window as soon as we went behind, and we lost.

You wonder if the Owls have a mental block when they are ahead in games but cannot kill them off.

There seems to have been a lack of belief across the city at Sheffield United all season. You could see it last Saturday when they had the chance to go in front through Enda Stevens but failed to take it, and Wolves went down the other end and scored the game’s only goal.

Maybe if they had started the season more strongly the Blades would never have got into a negative mindset.

Last season, they made a good start and won nine games by a one-goal margin. This time they have lost 16 by the odd goal.

Even though the emotions Wednesday are going through at the moment are not ones you want to experience, as football fans we thrive on the hope or belief you can defy the odds.

As a young Everton fan, I remember listening to the last game of the 1993-94 season on the radio with my dad and celebrating like we had won the league when we came from 2-0 down to beat Wimbledon 3-2 and keep our Premier League place.

From the position they are in now, the celebrations will be massive from the Wednesday fans if they somehow stay up. A lot has gone against them – the points deduction, all the changes of manager, injuries, Covid-19 hitting the squad in the new year, manager Darren Moore contracting it this month, then suffering pneumonia on his return.

Good or bad, emotions are why we love football.

When teams go down you see fans crying but going through those experiences make the good times sweeter, as it will for Hull City if they secure promotion back to the Championship at Lincoln City this afternoon.

There were a lot of things about the breakaway European league which did not sit right with me but the idea of not relegating certain teams, turning games into glorified exhibition matches, was perhaps the biggest.