by Peterborough United manager Graham Westley
As I checked our timetable for the remainder of the season this week, I noted 86 days and 17 games left. It seems scarcely a moment since I walked in the door at Peterborough back in September, and yet here we are heading towards the exit door of another football season.
The last 12 weeks of a season always have a different feeling to them. They are the days and the games that ultimately decide everything.
There are teams that will drop away in the weeks to come; teams that will come strong; teams that will continue in the same vein.
Generally speaking, there are two defining characteristics of the teams that run on strongly. Firstly, mentally they are the teams with the most deep-rooted ambition. They find a level of desire that is just too much for the vast majority to consider fighting against.
Secondly, they tend to be physically strong teams who are able to stay the course – teams who can drive through 17 games in 86 days without even considering that they ‘ought’ to feel ‘tired’ at the end of a long season, teams filled with players who love playing football and who just want to win the next game.
Most teams in most divisions have good quality players at the level. The biggest difference can be found in these two facets of performance.
In days gone by, these were Manchester United’s days. Sir Alex Ferguson had his teams ready to attack games with that positive mentality and a vibrant energy, forged at Carrington and driven the length and breadth of the country. United ran on; United ran strong.
It is easy to look towards the end of a season and prepare for the summer break. But the break is not worth having if you don’t arrive there with absolutely every ounce of blood and sweat left in every shirt that leaves a field in every game. These are the days for teams who want to stand up and be counted to stand up and be counted.
These are the days for the best to separate themselves from the rest.
*This article was originally published in The FLP on 14 February 2016.