At this time of year the football world is full of underperforming players being asked to ‘pull their socks up’ – but is that really the answer when it comes to saving a flagging season?
For a handful of teams at the bottom end of the English Premier League table, the phrase must be as familiar as “take each game as it comes”. Blackburn Rovers have lost five straight games and look unlikely to avoid the drop, while QPR’s expensively assembled team is still in real danger of heading straight back to the Championship.
Both Steve Kean and Mark Hughes have no doubt been ordering their players to up their game, rise to the challenge and indeed, pull their socks up. But how much of an effect can a kit really have on a game of football?
We all remember Manchester United changing their kit at half time against Southampton some years ago – Sir Alex blamed their grey kit for his players not being able to see each other – and still losing the game. Surely the performance was to blame, rather than the apparel?
As United proved, it’s not just the bottom teams who occasionally need to adjust their shinwear. This season, Liverpool have struggled towards the end of the campaign while United’s rivals Manchester City are seeing their title challenge fizzle out. Perhaps Roberto Mancini hasn’t heard the rather English expression, which translates to Italian as “Tirare il vostro calze fino”.
Had his team of millionaires been told to manage their sock height more carefully, they may be on the brink of celebrating their first Premier League title win. As it happens, Ferguson’s attention to detail appears to extend to his players’ stockings, because his side are on their way to yet another Premier League crown.
The truth is blaming your team’s socks for your lack of success is as bad as blaming the referee who failed to spot a handball on the half-way line 15 minutes before the opposition scored their winning goal.
Some of the best players in the world played with their socks down around their ankles – ask Newcastle fans whether Tino Asprilla needed to pull his socks up, or ask your granddad if Billy Bonds’ game suffered as a result of his disregard for sock management.
Managers need to accept that pulling up your socks doesn’t make you a better player. For Kean and Hughes, it could be the difference between Premier League survival and a sharp drop to the Championship.
This article was written by Wackysox, suppliers of high performance, personalised sports socks.