• Pressure to play: A sociological analysis of professional football manager’s behaviour towards injured players

      Waddington, Ivan; Law, Graeme (University of Chester, 2013-09)
      The objects of this study are to examine the ways in which professional football managers behave towards injured players, and in this context, the focus is on whether there is a ‘pressure to play’ in football. This study involved semi-structured interviews with current professional football managers from all levels of the professional game in England. The interviews focused centrally on the manager’s experiences of dealing with injured players and if at certain stages of the season or in certain games the manager’s behaviour towards an injured player was influenced. The effect that a player’s injuries have on the long term future of the player were also discussed along with the influence the managers backroom staff had with the interdependent relationships of the network. The findings indicate that managers know that they are unlikely to ever field a team that has eleven fully fit players and that players are inconvenienced when they are injured to encourage a quicker return to playing games. It was also evident that risks are taken on players if that player is regarded as a key player and the match is of high importance, as this reduces the risk of uncertainty on the manager in the network of interdependent relationships. It was noted that an authoritarian style is used by managers to have more control over the network of a professional football club. The managers expressed how they did not want to risk the long term health of the players but the constraints that were put on them influenced their behaviour towards injured players when there was no deliberate attempt to do so.