A Time For Clear And Calm Thinking – Eves
You get the impression Mel Eves would have coped as well as anyone in a dressing room with the difficulties of lockdown.
Phrases like ‘controlling the controllables’ are part of his every-day vocabulary now but he had an eye on the psychology of the game even as far back as his playing days four decades ago.
So how, we asked him, would he have coped with a season that has so far run for 12 and a half months and which has just seen Wolves squeeze through a difficult Europa League second leg 21 weeks after the away first leg?
“As players, you can’t control what the FA, FIFA or the Government decides, so just control what you can around that,” he said.
“Be ‘present’. In other words, be in the flow. You only get anxious if you aren’t. If you are thinking: ‘This isn’t right, I should have had a holiday by now’ or you are fretting over the possibility that there won’t be any spectators in grounds until next year, you are worrying about things out of your control and you won’t perform.
“But if you can tell yourself: ‘Whatever we are going through and whatever the differences are, I am going to prepare as well as I possibly can,’ you will perform.
“Nuno’s attitude is exactly that. As soon as one game ends, he talks straightaway about starting to prepare for the next one. But only the next one. He is the leader and is very consistent with his message.
“Players are always seeking an edge, something that works for them, but it will help them if they accept this unique situation for what it is and not worry about things they can’t influence.”
As a summariser on BBC WM, Eves is one of the select few who have attended games since the sport’s restart.
He has been present at all the home matches Wolves have played since the long pandemic-enforced break and admits it has been a very different experience.
“Someone asked me whether Andy Thompson is present at most of the games as well as he also works on radio – and I had to say I don’t know!” he added. “There’s no hospitality at Molineux at present, so we have our temperature checked on arrival and go straight to our seat in the stand.
“Normally, I would see him over a cuppa in the press room but we are so spread out in the media area overlooking the pitch that he could be there and I just don’t see him.
“Once games start, you get into a bit of a bubble and just concentrate on the play but then, at half-time or the end, you stand up, have a stretch, look around and remember there is no-one else there.
“It is very strange and the regulations prevent me from travelling to away games in a car with the commentator Mike Taylor, as I usually would.
“You still find yourself getting wrapped up in a game and I made the point that I’m glad I have my temperature taken before games and before any VAR decisions!”
It seems a long while ago now since we were talking about Eves’s goal at home to PSV Eindhoven in 1980 being the last one Wolves had scored in major European competition.
No fewer than 12 other players have since netted for the club in the Europa League and we hope this longest season still runs further than just Tuesday’s quarter-final against Sevilla in Duisberg.