Are contract concerns the problem?

THE end of the season can be a nervy time for any professional footballer – especially those coming to the end of their contracts.

Colchester United having at least six players nearing the end of their current deals this summer, while a number of others will be more than aware that their futures at the club are all but secure.

So it begs the question, could this be part of the reason behind the U’s alarming end-of-season slump in form? Manager Aidy Boothroyd isn’t sure.

He said: “Is it in the back of their minds? I don’t know whether it is or it isn’t, but to me – as a professional – you should want to finish as high as you can.

“The more successful you are the longer contracts you earn and the more money you can ask for.”

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The average supporter may disapprove when footballers who earn more in a month than they possibly do in a year try and eek every last penny out of their club.

However, the truth is very few League One players will be lucky enough to earn enough money in their careers to retire when they are eventually forced to hang up their boots.

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The next contract a lower level footballer signs can provide them with a lot of financial security, not only for themselves, but also the young families that many of them begin to form.

Is it any wonder then that 31-year-old Kevin Lisbie is desperate to get his future sorted, while 24-year-old Marc Tierney is negotiating the best possible deal for himself at present?

On the pitch, contract pressure can have one of two effects. It will either galvanise a player to a new level of performance levels, or – in trying too hard to impress – they will make mistakes.

And Boothroyd – who himself only signed a rolling contract last September – admits the latter mode of thought made hold some sway with the current situation.

“I think there has been an element of trying too hard to win in recent weeks,” said the 38-year-old, who has seen the likes of Lisbie unable to reproduce their early season form of late.

“To be honest though, the last thing players should be worried about is whether they are going to get a contract or not.”

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