A humble snooker blogger writes about Ronnie O’Sullivan at their peril.

Whatever one writes, the accusation of bias is never far away. Compliment O’Sullivan and you are accused of being a cheerleader; make a slight criticism and you are accused of a vendetta.

Despite all this, I shall not be leaving Ronnie out of my new season preview because he is bound to feature in the headlines again.

I just hope it’s for the one thing he fell short on last season: namely playing.

O’Sullivan’s appetite for snooker had clearly waned during the 2010/11 campaign. There were some tournaments he missed and others where he was merely going through the motions.

After considerable prompting from those around him, he took the decision to go and consult with Dr. Steve Peters, a psychiatrist with a history of working with sports stars.

O’Sullivan came to decide this after going to the brink, ringing World Snooker not just to pull out of the World Championship but to retire from the game completely, although it’s fair to say the jury is out as to whether this was just an idle threat or a serious proposition.

I’m not sure Twitter should be used as the benchmark for assessing a person’s character but anyone following O’Sullivan’s tweets will have noticed he seems rather chipper at the moment.

The question is whether he can remain that way when the heat of battle resumes. There is a lot of snooker to come in the next year and it will be interesting to see if O’Sullivan can maintain his enthusiasm for the whole of the campaign.

He is down to 11th in the world rankings, his lowest position for 17 years, but is still obviously capable of winning tournaments and arresting any further slide.

Another season like the one he’s just had and he could be out of the top 16 but he could just as easily end up back in the top four.

However, when the very best start to struggle, when cracks appear in their otherwise invincible auras, other players begin to sense their chance.

It’s happened to other great sportsmen when they’ve started losing unexpectedly – Roger Federer, Phil Taylor and, for different reasons, Tiger Woods. The fear factor in the minds of their rivals starts to dissipate.

O’Sullivan has quite extraordinary charisma. When he walks into a room all eyes invariably turn to him. I think this is something you are born with. No other player has it to quite the same degree.

This presence, and of course his remarkable talent, has more than once done in an opponent before a match has begun, but there were times last season when drawing O’Sullivan in a tournament was seen as a plus.

Can he turn the tide? The simple answer is yes. His two great contemporaries, Mark Williams and John Higgins, occupy the top two positions in the rankings and should be a source of inspiration.

There were parts of O’Sullivan’s game that were clearly below par last season but this was a symptom of not playing as much as the other players. He was rusty and at times it showed.

So don’t write him off yet but O’Sullivan, instinctive not just in his approach to snooker but to life itself, needs to really want it.

At the moment the signs are that he does. Whether he can maintain that mindset for the long snooker year to come, well, we shall see.


Witz78 said...

Never mind if he has another bad season, hell be out of the top 16 - if he doesnt hit the ground running straight away he'll be out of the top 16 - as the latest provisional rankings have him pecariously perched on the trapdoor.

The thought of Ronnie having to qualify for the UK and not even being at the Masters are unthinkable but very realistic too now. Playing the PTCs is vital now, thanks to last seasons attitude.

However ive also picked up the positive vibes from his tweets over the last couple of months that his enthusiasm for the sport is back, and i think this can be partially attributed to being on the road with his good friend and possible mentor Jimmy in the Legends events.

wild said...

yes it is easy feeling chipper during off season playing his idol in front of a large crowd in the legends tour.

the test will come when he starts playing grinders in PTC or going to Australia playing a slow players.

Anonymous said...

And he's dating John Virgo's daughter!

Anonymous said...

Worst article i've ever seen, Ronnie only knows Ronnie.

wild said...

"Worst article i've ever seen, Ronnie only knows Ronnie."

for christ sake they are articles looking forward to the new season....how can you say nothing about Ronnie ? god almighty.

Leon in Kaunas said...

Great player and character that sport need. Ronnie make snooker great again he example to young player that people from poor family make good in sport.

Greg P said...

People need to stop being so judgmental about Ronnie. Living with bi-polar disorder is harder than trying to remember a Sky news presenter's name.

Anonymous said...

the whole of last season was excellent (and it pretty much didnt include him compared to the last 10 seasons)

im hoping he continues to slide down the rankings and people who want to be there and who behave in a nice manner prosper.

wild said...

what last season showed ronnie is disposable but a season with him is still better than without.

however if he retires he knows snooker wont miss him as much as he actually thought.

RichP said...

Not going to criticise the article as I think it's spot on. It will be interesting to see how the 'new' Ronnie gets on this season, amongst many other things. My gut feeling is that he'll return to the winner's enclosure on more than one occasion. As you say Dave he certianly seems very chipper at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Being chipper won't help Ronnie knock in those 50-50 long reds

wild said...

another thing i think Those scenes at the Crucible final night and Trump's potting was inspiring for him.

but the reality is when he has to get involved in the traveling being on the road the grind of that might test his patience and mood to the limit.

and those chipper looking tweets will be a distant memory..

Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan's too good a player, he will rediscover some of his form and reach a final or two in the coming season I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Very tiring to hear about O'Sullivan over and over. He first talked about retiring when he was 17. It's depressing to think how many tournaments he could have won and how many 147s he could have made. He's got maybe 2-3 years left at the top, but I don't see him really making an impact. As he says himself he has 'too many other interests'. He is tired of snooker, but wants to stand out in whatever he does but snooker is the only thing he's really good at. He needed to accept that fact like Hendry and Davis. He last took the game seriously 5-6 years ago when MacGuire was 2nd best. The only reason he is still competitive now is because the current talent pool is very low compared with a 15 ago.

likahokeith said...

Ronnie is still the popular star but not as same as few years ago.

Ronnie can play well at recent, but compare to other Top 16, his status became unknown and unsteady. Now my worry to him is same as the worry to Hendry.

Another side, there's a star growing up: Judd Trump, who is no.9 and played the outstanding result at the end of season. In the next season, Trump will continue to increase the attraction.

But I think this is not the important thing. For example, Mark Williams was ranked 47 because of the decline, but now he is no.1. What's the reason? The willpower. If Ronnie can keep it high and being calm, he could be no.1 within three seasons.

Anonymous said...

he could be, but more likely he wont be.

Anonymous said...

Wild your language is a disgrace, Dave anything like that should be taken off the blog readers don't want to see blasphemus comments, there's no need for it. Great article.

Anonymous said...

He'll bounce back, he simply has to. I couldn't imagine the pain of losing two of the greats if both him and Hendry decided to call it quits in the same season.

147 said...

Ronnies greatest opponent has always been himself if he can conquer that then his unstoppable.As far as entertainment is concerned his the greatest.Higgins performing well might just be the catalyst to spur him on.

Anonymous said...

351 at least Hendry would be missed by the nice people.

Trevor said...

What does the last post mean ?.hendry would be missed by the nice people.do nice people not like ronnie o sullivan or am i missing something ?. What a load of rubbish.

Anonymous said...

i think you answered that yourself trevor with the tone of your post

Delia Robinson said...

Ronnie will yet again surprise us all I am certain, he is simply the very best out of what is oftern a lack luster group of triers.