Football Psychology: Derby County – Another Failure Of Leadership!

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Football PsychologyIt’s Sky’s pre-match analysis ahead of rugby’s European Final in Lyon. Jonny Wilkinson is discussing his part in Toulon’s 2013 success.

The former England number ten, commanding the respect of his team-mates, acted not as a superstar, but drew on his vast experience to glue the French team together. He was the ‘go to player’ when problems needed solving. He’d seen it. Done it. Nothing phased him. He had the answers.

His observations felt relevant following Derby County’s lame three nil Championship play-off home defeat to Hull City. The Rams simply had no ‘go to player’ who knew how to solve the problems Hull posed for them. They were a set of individuals who appeared to have learnt no lessons from previous failures.

The 2014 Wembley play-off final defeat to QPR. Last seasons run-in capitulation. All loaded with lessons on how not to win promotion. How pressure can eat away at self-belief. How expectation can cause unexpected and costly loss of concentration. How strong leadership is critical to prevent the cult of the individual holding sway.

It looks as if no critical post-season analysis has ever taken place, so that the pain of loss could lead to valued insights. Today you had heads dropping after conceding the first goal. An inability to test reserve keeper Eldin Jakupovic until late in the game. A failure to up the tempo to unsettle well disciplined opposition. The team having no sense of cohesion or appetite for a fight. It was history repeating itself today in the East Midlands.

A game not so much lost on a warm Saturday in May. But in the inability for either Steve McClaren, Paul Clement or Darren Wassall to recognise that subtle self-defeating psychologies had established themselves inside the football club. And under the spotlight in a big play-off game,  the truth cannot be hidden.

Thus a failure of leadership, both on and off the pitch. And another season of Championship football beckons for Derby County.