A tough place to come
We’ve all heard the cliche that a ground is a ‘tough place to go and get a result’, but teams rarely take it literally.
By deregistering your postcode from SatNav systems, turning signposts to face the wrong direction, closing roads around the stadium with traffic cones, and, if possible, camouflaging the stands, you can make sure the away team arrive late and disoriented.
If your opponents are staying in a hotel the night before the game, get the hotel staff to look puzzled and tell the players the game was yesterday and they already lost 3-0.
Make sure all their stories correlate and they know such specific details about the phantom match that the away team turn up convinced they have somehow gone back in time.
Get the decorators in
Instead of painting the dressing room pink, why not go to town and paint it a psychedelic rainbow of colours so the away players feel like they’re on an acid trip?
Or, better still, paint a fiendishly difficult Where’s Wally, which the away team will battle in vain to solve until the referee forces them out on to the pitch still wondering where that stripy bastard got to.
In the golden age of John Beck, Cambridge United used to make sure the showers were ice cold in the away dressing room, but worse still would be to have the showers alternate between uncomfortably hot and freezing cold.
The tension of shower roulette can destroy even the strongest of minds.
Bring the mood down
A pre-match playlist to get the players pumped is a staple of any dressing room, but with some clever placement of speakers in the away dressing room you can take control of the opposition’s pre-match mood.
Chopin’s Funeral March would bring the mood down nicely, or, you could go full Guantanamo Bay and blast the Teletubbies theme tune on a loop.
Crueller still, if you’re playing Celtic you could pipe in the Champions League theme tune.
Pay Michael Owen to give a motivational speech (to the opposition)
Knock on the door of the dressing room and let the away team know that Michael Owen just happens to be at the game and would love to say hello.
Little do they know that you’ve paid Michael to read the entirety of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ to gee up the players.
By the time the coach tries to tell his team the formation very few players are still awake and several are completely committed to the demise of the Qin dynasty.
Playing the game
The mind games don’t have to stop when you get on the pitch. Some strikers wear the same shirt game after game unwashed so nobody wants to get near the and it’s rumoured that Alan Shearer used to get space from his marker by boring them with tales of his DIY exploits.
As you line up for a corner, why not get in the nearest defender’s head by asking him whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound or whether God could create a box so heavy he can’t lift it. While he’s grappling with the metaphysical, you’ve got a yard of space to head home.
Any club buying into psychological warfare as a route up the table has a wealth of options.
Take control of the scoreboard and put up 2-0 after your first goal. Have the PA announcer read out that the away coach has been broken into, or better still read through the away players’ internet browsing histories one by one.
The possibilities are endless for a club willing to ditch the coaching staff and bring in a team of psychology students…