Michael Smith keen to turn around his 'rubbish' Premier League form
Next up for Smith is MVG, as Premier League Darts continues on Thursday on Sky Sports Action from 7pm.
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 08/04/19 12:26pm
It's just not quite happening for Michael Smith in the Premier League right now. The Bully Boy, who reached the final of the World Championships, has failed to kick on as of yet in 2019, as he struggles to see out tight games.
This was evident in Belfast last Thursday, as Smith averaged 100.78 against Peter Wright's 90.95, but the Englishman failed to close out a win as Snakebite rescued a draw.
"I'm still learning, it's a learning curve. But I've been horse manure this year," Smith said. "I've been rubbish in the Premier League.
"I'm playing well, but I'm just not getting results. When you're not getting results, the doubt starts to creep in.
"It's been bad. I've not stepped up once.
"I was killing it last year. Any time I got a finish, I hit it. it's called instinct. I've still got it, but there's just a doubt at the back of your mind, thinking 'if I miss this, he's going to check out'.
"But last year, I was never going to miss.
"It'll come back. The Premier League isn't everything, as long as it doesn't crush me like it did in my first year, which is not going to. I'm a big boy now. I can get over getting beaten, and I can get ready for the rest of the year then."
Smith finds himself at the foot of the Premier League table, following the elimination of Raymond van Barneveld, and is under no illusion as to the scale of the task ahead if he is to finish in the top four.
"I've got to win the next five," he explained. "[A win against Wright] would have made it easier. That would have put me two points behind, now I'm three points behind. I need the top two, Michael (Van Gerwen) and Rob (Cross), to beat everyone apart from me.
"I needed those two points [against Wright]. I'm annoyed. The only leg I deserved to lose was the last one. I want to say nice things, but I'm really annoyed with myself. I drew, that's the main thing, it's better than getting beaten.
"I'm on eight points now. Twice I've played him and twice I've thrown points away. I should really be sat on 10, and still in with a shout of the O2 [finals night]."
Given how impressively he closed out 2018, there was always going to be added pressure this year, but Smith does not feel his dip in form is down to increased expectation.
"As long as I turn up and play my own game, I'm not really bothered about what the bookies think," he said defiantly. "I remember one year at the worlds, I was 18/1 to beat (Phil) Taylor.
"I'm not really bothered about it. When I went into matches last year in the worlds, I was favourite for every single match I played in apart from the final. As long as I go out there and do my best."
Rod Harrington feels the 2019 World Championship finalist needs to go back to basics.
"The commentators and pundits, we all use averages and percentages on doubles, because it's a great talking point," explained the Sky Sports pundit. "But it is about timing. You see so often, a player with a lower average get a result.
"Michael has such a great scoring game. But he has too many sloppy darts, when he hits two T20s and just walks on the third and it always goes low. When he made the World Championships final, he cut down on those sloppy darts. He's got to get back, in my opinion, on focusing a bit more.
"I expected him to move on [from the World Championship final appearance]. And he hasn't.
What comes next? Night 11 - April 11 M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
|Rob Cross||vs||Peter Wright|
|Gerwyn Price||vs||Mensur Suljovic|
|James Wade||vs||Daryl Gurney|
|Michael Smith||vs||Michael van Gerwen|
"It is only my opinion, but when you look at that third dart, he's just throwing it away. A 140 could have been a 180. If you're losing that leg, you might have thrown 40 points away. You can't do it in this company, because you're going to get punished."
Smith since reached the final of Saturday's Players Championship event, going down in the final to James Wade, and the 28-year-old is confident he has the game to bounce back:
He said: "You get kicked down, but it's how you get back up. I've always been a fighter. I'll come out fighting again next week."
The Premier League continues as we head to the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool on Thursday, April 11. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts