DANNY MURPHY: Players' talk at struggling clubs will be about pay cuts

DANNY MURPHY: They won’t admit it but the players’ talk now at Premier League strugglers like Everton, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and Leeds will be about who’ll get a move and who’ll get a pay cut if the worst unfolds!

  • There will have been private chats at struggling clubs about what happens next
  • Players will gossip about contracts and who takes a wage cut after relegation
  • Leeds and Nottingham Forest both secured draws on a dramatic Saturday

Players in the heat of a relegation battle have to say things like ‘focusing on the next game’ or ‘controlling the controllables’. Having been involved at Fulham, the reality is more complex than that.

It might seem a sensible theory to shut off every distraction but I know I was looking at every fixture during the run-in, working out all the permutations of which teams may or may not pick up points.

And if a rival was playing on TV, I’d be glued to the action, watching and praying they mucked it up.

I’m sure most Leeds and Nottingham Forest players won’t be able to avoid the temptation of looking at Everton’s game on Sunday and Leicester City on Monday.

They will be rooting for Manchester City and Liverpool as strongly as any fan of those teams.

Nottingham Forest fought their way back into the 2-2 draw at Chelsea to earn a crucial point

Sean Dyche’s Everton stunned Brighton but face a stern test in leaders Manchester City 

Mail Sport’s Danny Murphy believes that certain players will be having private discussions about what the future holds

Another truth is there will have been private chats between the lads at struggling clubs about what happens next if the worst unfolds.

There will be gossip about contracts and who takes a wage cut following relegation and which players have had a sniff from other clubs. It’s something that will never be admitted but it’s true because footballers look after themselves, but fans shouldn’t necessarily be alarmed by it or worry it’ll mean a reduction in effort.

No player wants a relegation on their CV regardless of their next step. In many cases, they’ll also be worried it’ll be a stigma that makes them less attractive to other clubs. 

At one point at 2007-08, we were convinced at Fulham we’d be going down and so discussions were had about our futures. But it didn’t stop us trying to beat the odds and we won our last three matches to pull off the great escape.

Our manager Roy Hodgson deserves praise for staying calm throughout those games. He urged us to concentrate on performance rather than results. His argument was that if the performances were good over a period, scorelines would eventually reflect that.

He was proved right and it’s been interesting to hear Sean Dyche saying similar things recently at Everton. It’s the same approach Roy had and probably no coincidence both men were appointed early enough to put their stamp on things.

Roy came to Fulham in late December and, even though it took time to learn his methods, it turned out all right in the end. If he’d come in March, we’d have been relegated. 

Dyche has been given time to get over any bumps in the road and instil his methods. Dean Smith has had a lot of less time at Leicester and their last few performances have been more panicky.

Newcastle dropped points in its push for Champions League qualification by drawing at Leeds

Instead of going to Fulham on Monday with the aim of being very difficult to beat, they were open, reliant on their creative players, and Marco Silva’s side picked them off. When in trouble, you have to start off by defending the point you kick off with — it’s 0-0 — and make the opposition suffer to beat you. Achieve that and you’ll end up with opportunities of your own.

Roy was a very serious and detailed coach but we were also helped by having an extrovert like Jimmy Bullard in the dressing room. He was so positive about every game it rubbed off on all of us. 

However big the game or tense the atmosphere, Jimmy sent us out laughing doing his Michael Jackson moonwalk impression to Billie Jean, shorts pulled up around his ears.

Ridiculous I know but if any of the relegation candidates have a character like Jimmy, it helps. He was convinced before every game we’d go out and get a result, no matter who it was against.

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