Coming into this season you'd excuse Parramatta Eels fans for being skeptical about the top four tags being slapped on them.

The Eels haven't done particularly well when expectations have been placed on them. In the past they've excelled when not much is expected on them, when they can spring a surprise.

As the 2020 season continues rolling on, it's become clear the Blue and Gold are one of the premier teams in the competition. They went toe-to-toe with the defending premiers, beat the side currently sitting second, beat the 2019 grand finalists and beat a Manly team with Tom Trbojevic.

And yet, there remain discussions about Parra's bona fides.

Phil Gould himself has constantly talked down the Eels this season and talked up Penrith. His reasoning is self defeating; Parramatta beating Penrith shouldn't have happened and the Panthers are more resilient so they are a better side.

Now it's true the Eels have squeaked a few wins.

But rugby league isn't easy and the NRL is one of the toughest competitions in world sport. 

The narrow wins Parramatta have managed have been against sides also tipped for top four, and in the case of the Raiders, tipped as a Premiership contender at the start of the year.

That's what good sides do. They win games. By one point or by 30 points, they win.

Now, I compare this side to Liverpool of the EPL. The newly minted Premier League champions. At the start of this current campaign, they snagged a bunch of late wins, scrounged out 2-1 victories and gave their fans a heart attack.

Each week pundits questioned their real championship winning ability. Each week Liverpool kept winning until everyone looked around and the Reds were 25 points clear of their nearest rival.

Now I point this out, not to gloat (okay, maybe a little), but to highlight that the most important thing is winning and that quite often those tight wins help to build character and the confidence of a side.

As Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning is a habit".

For me, the pleasing thing this season is Parramatta's seeming ability to forget what happened last week. In year passed they'd play out of their skin one week and then drop off the next.

This season the intensity is there from the kickoff.

Alongside their narrow wins and one loss, they've blown away lesser sides in the Cowboys, Broncos and Titans. No jitters, no tight finishes. Just straight up run over them. The Titans put up the biggest fight and still lost by 40.

Those wins indicate a killer instinct. When this side smells blood, they go for the jugular and they don't let off. 

In many respects it's a philosophy best employed by the World Cup winning German team of 2014. Once they were up, there was no consolidation, no playing out the match. They kept the pressure on and looked for more goals. Their 7-1 demolition of Brazil highlights that.

Against the Cowboys, Parra had that match wrapped up in 65 minutes. They still scored after that and if Maika Sivo had his way he'd have probably scored again following a penalty in the final minutes.

The hardest part for fans watching this is changing their mindset.

The Eels don't seem to be the up and down side they were in the past. Seven wins and one loss indicate a consistently high level of performance. They're the best defensive team in the competition despite having a weakness on the right edge.

Last season Parramatta had a propensity for fracturing through the middle. They don't break there anymore. Their left edge is also the stingiest in the competition. So in many ways the right edge could be a little blessing. Teams think that's the only way they can score so they keep sending the ball that way. It's up to that edge to get their act together and stop those points. If they do that it becomes even harder to score against this side.

Trust me, that change in mindset doesn't come overnight. It takes time.

As Jurgen Klopp said when he arrived at Liverpool, "We have to change. From doubters, to believers."

Yes, it's fine to be nervous before games, but we are not easy beats. Those other teams are worried about us. They know we're a tough opponent. But do we believe that?

We're a long way from finishing this season. The team will be taking it one week at a time. To do anything else would be foolish.

But for us it's a chance to dream of a top two finish. Our first since 2005.

11 wins probably gets you top eight this year. We have seven wins already.

So the question is, are you a doubter, or a believer?

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  • I don't see the same fragility in this team as past years. I also see a confidence, a belief in the game plan and systems. No panic just stick to the plan and we'll be there when it matters.

    I remember the Manly side previously under Des. 2nd half specialists. You could get out to a lead in the first half but no matter what you just knew Manly were coming for you in the second half and invariably would get the chocolates. They were tough, confident and very hard to contain. I see some of that in this Parra side.

    We won't win every game this year obviously. No side does that. But we will always be hard to play against and very tough to beat. That wins premierships.

  • My brother in law is from Liverpool (UK), and he got me into following LFC several years ago, and in return, I got him into following Parramatta at the same time as he moved out here and was looking for an NRL team to support.

    I said to him before the EPL season kicked off last August that in the next 16 months, a combined 34 year drought would be broken across the two sports. LFC have held up their end of the bargain, and I am confident Parramatta will bring home the biccies this year. Too much craziness has occurred in 2020 to not think that Parra will be lifting the trophy in November... 

  • Benny is a doubter. Let there be no doubt about that 

    • Cmon Benny, let yourself believe, even if it's just a little bit...

      • Benjamin my son, I would like you to look at the good book and say to yourself names not Thomas....its Benjamin.


        • Pansy i saw you dropped a youtube video today and answered some of my questions, you take depraved to a new level pops lol.

          Anybody interested in watching, search for Pansy Gronski on youtube.


          • LOL!!! I just played it really loud so that everyone in the office could hear it.

            Great work Pops :)

            • bwahahaha are you subbed you deviate lol?

              I certainly am.


              • I love the new segment he added called shameless hour, go Pop's. 

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