The former Manchester United, Stoke and Derby man has defended players who appeared to have gone on holiday early
THE final day can be surreal, depending on what there is left to play for at your club.
There has been a lot of talk about players ‘being on the beach’ already as the campaign dribbles away.
But it was very rare I thought that ever happened with team-mates of mine.
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My only real experience of it was at Stoke at the end of the 2009-10 season.
We were at Manchester United on the last day and they had to win to keep pressure on title rivals Chelsea, who were a point ahead and hosting Wigan.
We were mid-table after a good season and we’d beaten Fulham in midweek.
We didn’t have a lot to play for other than pride and we lost 4-0. But it didn’t help United as Chelsea hammered Wigan 8-0 to take the title!
I wouldn’t say we were ‘on the beach’ but after a hard slog of a season, that match just wasn’t as important as others had been.
It’s bound to have an effect on performance, that’s only human, but it was certainly not a regular thing.
At the end of the season you want a good performance because you always remember the last game.
If I went away on holiday on the back of a defeat or a poor display it would eat away at me. It can make you question yourself.
I agree, it’s very difficult to say that some players haven’t clocked off earlier this season when you look at the results. There were certainly a lot of goals flying in yesterday.
What I would say, though, is that last game of the season when you have been relegated is horrible. It’s very hard to get up for it.
I was relegated with both Southampton and Derby and it hurts like hell. You just want to get away from the club, rebuild, and start again on the new season to right the wrongs.
And you cannot undo the failings of the season once you have already gone down as you have basically failed at the job you set out to do at the start of the campaign.
For me, the worst thing was the very real prospect of people at the clubs losing their jobs because we had been relegated. That was an awful feeling.
With Southampton we went down on the final day but at Derby we’d gone with games to go and I couldn’t wait to get away for a few weeks.
It was awful and it’s hard to get yourself right mentally when you know you’re no longer a Premier League player.
I remember we had to do the ‘lap of honour’ at the end and that was a pretty hollow feeling.
The fans were actually fine with us because it was not for the lack of trying that we had gone down.
You can see in results for Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Hull yesterday how hard it is once you have already gone down.
They conceded three to Liverpool, five to Chelsea and seven to Spurs, respectively. OK, Watford shipped five at home to Manchester City, which is not a great way to sign off, especially at home.
But then their manager Walter Mazzarri has just been given his marching orders so that won’t have made it any easier in the dressing room.
Anyway, for some it will be a summer to revel in success and look at medals.
But for others it will be a summer of regret and doubt.
And that’s football for you.