THERE are some aspects of football that can’t be explained or trained via a tactics board yet are key to having a winning side on the park.

Team spirit came to my mind recently, after reading that Dani Alves had offered part of his liver to his then Barcelona teammate, Eric Abidal, when Abidal required a transplant. That kind of bond between players is something that you can’t instill.

I’d always felt that good man-management was a big part of bringing a group of players together though. Assembling the right blend of characters at a club, knowing how to treat any disputes between them and who to have rooming together.

A video I came across on YouTube recently, however, was of players overflowing with team spirit despite (or even to spite) a manager rather than because of him.

You can find a video of the Crawley Town players celebrating manager Steve Evans’ departure for Rotherham United by one jumping onto a table and leading the rest of them in a burst of Chubby Checker, “We’re singing a song cos the fat man’s gone”.

This isn’t an event taking place on a boozy night out either. This is the team in club blazers while apparently at some kind of pre-match meeting in a hotel or stadium function suite!

Sometime the gestures we associated with great spirit at a club can be illusory. When Ian Wright was out of favour with Bruce Rioch at Arsenal, on the occasions he actually made it onto the pitch to score a goal, he’d make a point of running towards the dugout and jumping into Rioch’s arms to celebrate it. You have to admire his thinking in working out how to extract the maximum revenge.

There’s no magic formula for bonding a squad of players together. When Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford, he began clearing out the squad’s heavier drinkers to put an end to the booze culture that had been prevalent. Yet, the Rangers nine-in-a-row squad were known for the mantra of ‘the team that drinks together wins together’.

The only thing is, were that rule always correct then it would make pub leagues more competitive than the Champions League.

As fans, there are moments when you can pick out team spirit. Those times when a goal is celebrated by the entire side (including leaping substitutes), the times when a player passes up a chance to score to put the ball on a plate for a teammate who’s been through a difficult time with form or injury or, of course, those moments when somebody goes in late on a player and the other ten are suddenly on the scene to remonstrate.

Then again, that might just be a sign that you’ve got a squad who like a rammy.

I started this off by saying that team spirit is key, but I might be way off the mark. Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham managed to play 4581 minutes together, scoring 54 goals between them (and no, I didn’t sit down and work that out myself!) despite Cole’s summation that, during their Manchester United career, “I never spoke a single word to him”. This following Sheringham having snubbed a handshake from Cole as the latter replaced him as a sub in an England match.

From team-mates prepared to donate organs to each other…to teammates who won’t even speak. Yet both sets boasting a healthy collection of medals.

Working out the nature of team spirit? To borrow a phrase from Churchill, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.