In his post-Tranmere interview, Nigel Clough talked of the tiredness of some of his players as the season draws to a close, says Matthew Bell.
Even the substitutes were fatigued, he said, and Harry Maguire came off with cramp in both legs.
It’s not just physical tiredness that causes performances as lethargic as those against Stevenage and Tranmere. The mental aspect of football has a big part to play.
Clough referred to Chelsea losing at home to Sunderland because, having all but conceded the Premier League title, their minds were on their Champions League semi-final.
That is one example of how mindset affects performance, as is the transformation of a terrible team, as Sheffield United were in August and September, into a highly competent one. That intangible thing called confidence is what helps bring around a turn-round such as this.
Another way in which mental make-up can have an influence is the come-down following a major match into which all attention and preparation has been previously directed. And who can really blame a football team when that happens?
Cloughie also speaks of playing to finish as high a possible, carrying good form into next season and respecting the league by playing strongly.
All admirable ideals, but sometimes players really are thinking of their holidays at this time of the season. Those with something to prove might help in this regard, such as youngsters looking to impress the boss and, if they do, they might save him some money.