‘The difference wasn’t necessarily technical. It was about belief’. The words of Hull City manager Phil Brown after their four goal defeat to Chelsea. So what Phil really means is that Chelsea had four times the belief that Hull City did.
Belief means that you don’t stand and watch whilst the opposition demonstrate how good they are. It’s about imposing yourself on the game. Remember the belief that Wimbledon had when they shocked the football world in the 1988 FA Cup Final. They exuded no doubt. They backed themselves. They backed each other. They knew that their team-spirit was second to none. This is where they could beat Liverpool. Knowing where you hold the advantage opens the door to your belief. A tiny crack that lets in the light of possibility.
Where did Hull feel they held the advantage over Chelsea? They may not be able to match them technically. But you have to find a ‘something’ that gives you the edge. That one thing can then lead to another. It’s the reason why top teams can get unstuck at lower league grounds in the cup. They lose because of their attitude.
Maybe Hull City showed Chelsea too much respect. Were in awe of their big names. Compared themselves unfavourably. Failed to recognise that Chelsea were still vulnerable after the departure of Mourinho. No longer bullet-proof. And also failed to take account of their own strengths and qualities. Failed to truly believe in themselves. Who they are. What they have achieved. The adversity they have overcome. The bond between them.
When you believe, the impossible becomes possible. You find inner strength and energy you didn’t know that you had. You surprise your opponents with your intensity. They start to lose heart. Lose belief. Simply because they cannot find the will to match what you have. Last night was a perfect chance to test the inner resolve of Chelsea. Hull City were not yet ready for that test.