Wednesday April 11, 2012 at 4:46pm
With the football season drawing to a close and the major trophies are going to be dished out, together with the pain or relegation and the elation of promotion. It is also a great time for football clichés.
It is often said at this time of year that this team or that team has “nothing to play for” but surely that is rubbish of the highest order. First of all professional footballers would not be professional footballers if they did not have professional pride. The clue there is in the name, surely? And that leads us to the second point; it is that professional pride that means the team that is presently sitting in 12th, say, will do its best against a team that is second bottom or second top.
They are professional footballers – they want to win. They have a hunger to succeed that most of us do not. And even if that isn’t the case, then they owe to the fans of the club, or the people that pay their wages in the boardroom to do the best they can, and moreover they owe to it all the other players in the division to do their bit and make sure to competitive.
The situation is even more pronounced in the Premier League, where not only do the players have to do their best for their own personal pride they are doing their best – or they had better be in case the chairman is watching – for something rather less prosaic.
Cold hard cash.
It is reckoned that at Premier League level each place is worth £750,000 in prize money. Now, that might not be a massive amount to the Man City’s and Man United’s of this world. But even this rarefied Premier League environment, it is a lot of money.
Taking Norwich for example. So bunched are things in the middle of the Premier League, the new boys could conceivably finish as high as seventh (ninth is more likely) or as low as 14th. Or in short, if reported figures are true £6m. This would perhaps mean a couple of new signings, perhaps more the way Paul Lambert can find unpolished gems in the football league.
Still think Norwich have nothing to play for?
The idea that teams in mid-table can go on metaphorical holidays come this time of the year is one that needs to be debunked. In the football league teams can make the play-offs with a good late run, and as Macclesfield are seeing in League 2, if you get on a bad late run you are in serious trouble.
And of course, if professional pride, playing for the fans, the manager, the chairman don’t grab you, then how about something that might just appeal to the average Premier League footballer: naked self interest.
Bonuses, dear boy. And those bonuses depend on where the team finishes in the league.
No, these days the average player doesn’t go on his holidays in April. Why would he when there is an expensive one to pay for in May. So whichever way you want to look at it, there is no such thing as “nothing to play for” anymore.