Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke believes his side have a better chance of staying in the Premier League now than they did before the enforced break.
Speaking to the media in his pre-Southampton press conference on Thursday afternoon, Farke referred to must-win games last season as evidence that the Canaries can get three points when their backs are against the wall.
“We are the underdog in the most complicated position out of our competitors,” he accepted. “We’re not naive, but my feeling is that we are all convinced we still have a chance. It’s not like we have to pray for other results to go in our favour.
“It’s all in our hands and we have nine games and if we are capable of winning at least five we will stay in the league. It’s still doable and possible.
“This special situation that we have is a period of five weeks and many games - we have to show a winning mentality and I’m convinced that my team has this. I’m more convinced that we have a chance to stay in the league than I was before the break if I’m honest.
“We have nothing to lose but a lot to win.”
The end of season run-in could now be considered a clean slate for City, who are set to be fully focused from the word go.
“We can read the table and know that every game is unbelievably important,” Farke added. “We have nine games in the league and need to view them as nine finals. It’s important to have a good start.
“It feels a bit different to other seasons, because it’s now more like in the US where we’ve finished the season and now are into the play-offs with a best of nine series. Once we are able to get five wins, we will probably be allowed to stay in the league.
“It’s important not to be too over-excited after one or two games. We showed last season that we’re good in games where it’s do or die. Mentally, we’re 100 percent prepared for the situation.”
Of course, playing in a stadium without fans after a three to four month break represents a couple of new challenges - namely the lack of physical support and the difficulty of analysing the opposition pre-match.
“It’s a bit more complicated after such a long break,” Farke added. “The momentum that was there nearly four months ago isn’t important anymore. It’s always difficult to prepare your team for the opponent, but it’s the same Head Coach with the same players, but you don’t know how they’ve used the lockdown period to prepare.
“Germany has shown that the home advantage is less without fans. We would prefer to play in front of our home crowd of course, but we have to accept the situation. It’s important that we create a spirit within our group to be fully switched on and have the right attitude. I’ve got fantastic lads who are willing to work their socks off to achieve something really special.
“It’s still strange because we’re not allowed to play in front of our supporters, but it’s good that football is back. Right now, the real stuff begins.”