Is there life after Easter?
Cardiff - Crystal Palace 0-2
Crystal Palace - West Ham 1-0
Crystal Palace - Wigan 1-1
I know this player who watches the league table every day. This poor geezer doesn’t go to dates anymore, he counts points at home, goes through all the possible scenarios. He upsets people by cancelling meetings or not keeping contact. His life is his football at the moment. He is paying attention to every little detail. He eats better. Drinks better. Trains better. He tries to win an extra yard every single moment. Just to get that final push for the season. To win something. A promotion maybe. Or a trophy. Whatever the ultimate goal in reaching distant is. Like a whore he has sold his body to the game. Like a slave he has almost no other life outside football for a while. Like a winner he has done this by his own choice. This man is boring. But he is also just a couple of points away of winning something.
I know also this player who ate all the Easter eggs. He goes to training bit later than normal. And leaves earlier. He starts to read travelling sections from the paper. He has more time for his friends, occasionally he eats a Quatro Stagioni -pizza as well. He has suddenly lots of extra tickets left for his games. He has good days. He has bad days. Some days young kids are playing instead of him. He feels empty. He can’t see up, can’t fall down. He is just playing time. Next season might be better. He is comfortably in mid-table.
I know also this third player who is under a lot of pressure. Football is showing a middle finger to him. Training days are long, filled with a lot of meetings. Everyone is panicking, blaming others. Atmosphere is nervous, even hostile. He is mentally and physically torn. He starts to question himself, confidence is gone. He has stress and sleepless nights. Future is uncertain, ego is been shaken like a Polaroid picture. He feels he is trying to run through a prick wall. He is fighting against relegation.
These three players are in different worlds. They turn up every Saturday but they play a different game. Not because they are different players but because they are on a different situation. Actually all the three players are just one and the same player. It is just a different season for him. He is every player. I’ve been all three of them. I have been involved more or less in all these things. Most of the players have been there, done that. Coming end of season it is the situation that often makes the player. It shouldn’t but it often is.
You know it also as a supporter, a stuff member or anyone involved in football that after nine months and loads of games, there has to be a stake involved to still get really excited. Winning and losing is the cream of football, if you are stuck in the middle of the cake, it can be pretty tasteless. Here in England though the pride is bigger than in the Continent, so relegated and mid-table teams are not always the guaranteed three points. However here as well there can be some extreme results at the final rounds. This is also what gamblers need to understand betting end of the season.
It is the rule of Easter. You are either up there, down there or nowhere. Two games in such a short time are footballers’ Via Dolo Rosa. Your destiny can rely on this short religious holiday. At Easter, seasons are dying or resurrecting. The traditional question is: is there football after Easter? League table gives you the answer. You might be able to start booking your holidays. Or you might have already done it. Or you could be having the most exciting time of your career. Sometimes the joy is that your rival is having a nightmare.
Whether you are winning, just playing or battling for your existence, you have still around four weeks to go. After nine months of intensive work the end is at reaching distance. These are the moments that are often remembered. Making a goal now or doing a decisive error will count much more than the ones in October. There is no more time to make up errors. There is no time to build up for the rest of the season. The rest of the season is every moment. Every touch. Every tackle. Every pass. Every little detail. When everyone is tired, the odd bounce can make a difference. It can make the whole season. That is why concentration is important. Being a good professional. Being ready to be counted. Otherwise there might be no tomorrow.
Anyone can make a goal in a pre-season friendly. Who are the ones that are going to make them now? Who are the ones that are going to lift the trophies and clubs out of the relegation zone? Who are the ones that you want to play next to? Thierry Henry has said: “Ability and skills don’t get you anywhere if you don’t have determination and commitment”. He is not just the best, he is right also. Like Easter it is all a matter of belief!