• ‘Pressure to play?’ A sociological analysis of professional football managers’ behaviour towards injured players

      Law, Graeme; Bloyce, Daniel; York St John University; UIniversity of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-05-05)
      Drawing upon figurational sociology, this paper examines professional football managers’ attitudes towards injured players. Following interviews with 10 managers, as with previous research, we found that managers have an expectancy that players are rarely fully fit. Players were stigmatised when they were seemingly unwilling to play when a manager encouraged them to. However, we also found that many managers shaped, in part, by their habitus formed from their own experiences as a player, showed greater empathy towards injured players. Many claimed they would not risk the long-term health of players, although at times, managers at the lower levels felt more constrained to take certain risks. We argue this is an unintended outcome of the increasing pressures on managers to succeed with smaller squads. The increasing emphasis and reliance on ‘sport science’ enabled managers at the higher levels to have a more supportive approach to managing injuries not previously identified in existing literature.