Blackwell: Whoever handles it
Leeds United boss Kevin Blackwell believes the team that handles the pressure best on Sunday will be the team that progresses to the Premier Lague.
“It's just one game that we go into knowing that the team that performs the best and handles the situation the best will win,” Blackwell told the official site. “You only have to go back 12 months when Preston were the form team up against West Ham who only just scraped into the final, but on the day Preston did not turn up and many of the players simply froze.”
Both teams have had vigourous prepartions for Sunday’s showdown but Blackwell believes that on the day it comes down to how individuals handle the situation:“You can only do the preparation for the day as you think is right, once the players cross that white line it's down to them and how they handle it. One of the good things for us at Leeds is that we are a big club and they are used to playing in front of big crowds.”
United defeated Preston 2-0 in the semi-final at Elland Road and Blackwell thinks that the atmosphere created was similar to that on Sunday: “I know many of the Preston people felt that the atmosphere at Elland Road the other night was something they'd never experienced before, and they'd only been at the Millennium Stadium 12 months before. It surprised me that they'd said it but the atmosphere the fans have helped to create this season can stand us in good stead for the Millennium.”Blackwell added : “We know it's all about on the day and how the players handle it.”
Blackwell also spoke of the financial benefits of ‘football’s richest game’ and the financial incentives the West Yorkshire outfit woul get – win or lose in Wales.
“If we could get the club back to the Premiership on Sunday I think it could move the club three or four years forward,” he said. “But that's not the players responsibility, they can only go and play the game, the financial side has to take care of itself. What we have done is help address some of the financial problems because whatever happens we will come away £2-3m richer anyway and it all helps.”
Blackwell concluded:“The other thing that happens is it raises the profile of the football club, people are starting to talk about us as a football club again, not about the debts or misdemeanors and that's what I am proud of.”