The end of the football season is always a very strange time – it manages to produce unexpected results, surprising comebacks and even more surprising defeats.
Teams that were hopeless all season all of a sudden put a run together and start winning matches, virtually unrecognisable from before. They miraculously survive.
Teams that performed well all season but know that they can’t win the league start losing and drawing games, which before they would more than likely have won easily.
The teams that know they are ‘safe‘ from relegation take a breather for the last few matches because they know the job is done and they start losing matches.
The teams involved at the latter stages of the cup tournaments start performing lousy in league matches because the players are ‘saving’ themselves for the glamour matches.
At this stage of the season those at the bottom with the desire to survive always seem to be able to dig deep a little more than those near the top. Survival is possibly a stronger motivator than getting as high as possible at this stage.
The best teams to play against seem to be those who have ‘nothing to play for‘. With a stronger motivation to win surely the team who needs it more will have a better chance at overpowering a team who don’t really need it at all?
There are always exceptions like the team that is already relegated and manages to win their first away match of the whole season against a team fighting for their lives. The extreme pressure was off and they managed to relax and play the football they were capable of but never managed before.
It is at this stage of the season that you see who the great managers really are.
These managers are the ones who inspire their teams to win even when there is nothing to play for such as Jose Mourinho. Even though the team has already won the league he still manages to motivate his players enough to beat teams who have a lot more to play for.
No matter what you do you must give your team something to play for; some target, some goal, some challenge so that they can dig in, reach higher and keep winning.
What are your team playing for?