The hard slog

The months of October and November bring the next stage of the season – it is the time when reality begins to set in at clubs and the early hopes start to fade. Managers might not have reached the goals set during the summer, or perhaps the players bought in aren’t delivering for one reason or another. If a player isn’t in the side they get unsettled and start moaning. All the managers I have worked with would say ‘If you’re playing well, you’d be in the team. You are out of it because you’re not playing well.’ Unsettled players want to move on and their mood can affect others.

The clocks will have gone back, the nights draw in. That starts to affect your evening plans. The weather changes, temperatures plummet, you are suddenly playing in heavy rain or heavy wind. Pitches become lusher and slower while the training pitches can get unplayable especially at lower levels. You hunt around for alternatives, a 3G artificial surface. Too much training on such surfaces can affect joints and some players may have to be kept off it. If you want to lay your own it costs a fortune. In days gone by we trained on anything. A lot of league players would train on the car park on a Friday morning and be very competitive that players would get injured and end up missing the game.

The football seasons seem to get longer. Evening training, travelling, staying late after games, going through the range of emotions together all take the toll. It can be a 24/7 existence for ten months of the year. You have to have a certain mindset to deal with it. In the New Year there will be three basic situations facing you at this stage. You are hoping to go up, avoid relegation or be somewhere in between. In my long career I’ve have sampled all three. Fans however must appreciate the true goals of their clubs is that there are 88 clubs at step 3 most will experience a small form of success. A few will go a bit further and reach the play-offs, a local County senior or the League Cup Final or have an extended run in a major Cup only eight will experience promotion that is just 15.8 per cent.
In other words the vast majority of clubs will fail to achieve what fans will see as their primary objective.

Football is so important to the emotional well-being of our nation. It is really important is the appreciate the bigger picture that is going on giving youth a chance bringing through local players progressing five places up the table, scoring 10 per cent more home goals- these are important steps in building a club’s future. You do however become obsessed with the game. A lot of people outside the game have asked me, ‘why I bother?’ It’s a good question but the answer is that it is in my blood.

All you focus on is doing well as a team. You want success and are part of the team that is driving for certain goals. You suffer from tunnel-vision because if it. I have devoted to much of my time entirely to football and other aspects of my life have suffered because of it.

Aside from that I have been fortunate to work with some great managers and players who have not only taught me much about football but provided me with wisdom that have benefited me in my life.

Not every club can win. But every club can progress……….

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