IT’S a side of the game overlooked by many, but ask any football manager and they will tell you that the mental aspect of the sport is just as important as the physical.
And although Mick Tait will not be taking a leaf out of former England boss Glenn Hoddle’s book by employing a faith healer such as Eileen Drewery, the Blyth Spartans FC manager will do all he can to help heal the psychological wounds sustained by his players in recent weeks ahead of his side’s showcase final at St James’ Park next Wednesday.
The April showers have poured down on Blyth’s season as hopes of a play-off position were washed away following a disastrous 5-1 battering at Hinckley.
The slide continued right through to their final league game of the campaign, leaving their record for the month standing at two draws, four defeats and just one goal from six played.
After the 1-0 loss at lowly Worcester on Saturday, Tait said: “I need to use the next 11 days to get my players focused on the game. We don’t want to go there to make up the numbers. We want to win it.”
Tait added: “We are going in to the final exactly the way I didn’t want to – on the back of a poor run of results.”
The Blyth manager attributes his side’s recent slump to a lack of incentive which arrived when the play-offs were no longer a possibility.
He said: “That is never acceptable but at times it is understandable.
“Having nothing to play for has maybe taken away ten per cent of our game and that is all the opposition need to win at this level.
“We knew it was always going to be out of our hands but we were very confident of doing it at one stage because we were putting pressure on the teams above by winning games.”
He added: “Nobody outside the dressing room knows how we felt, we were all devastated.”
Tait was quick to praise his small squad for the effort they have put in throughout the season and their very respectable ninth-place finish in the Blue Square Bet North.
He said: “The players have been fantastic this season and there were about ten or 11 games on the trot when we were excellent and we got ourselves in to a great position in the league.”
The Blyth manager, however, was not so forthcoming in dishing out the compliments following his side’s performance at St George’s Lane on Saturday.
He said: “The result wasn’t the important thing today it was the performance, and that was poor, we played it like a typical end of season game.
“They played to their strengths and when we tried to play in that style we couldn’t match them, we were second to everything.”