Football Psychology: Roy Hodgson – Us v Them!

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Football PsychologyIt’s the aftermath of the World Cup Qualifier in the Ukraine, and England boss Roy Hodgson is responding to crticism from Gary Lineker amongst others. The former England striker pronounced the display awful, and Roy Hodgson is disappointed by Lineker’s comments.

With FA Head Greg Dyke declaring that no one seriously expects England to win the World Cup in Brazil, it’s been a good week for Hodgson to begin to build a siege mentality.

The siege mentality is a leadership strategy employed by most top managers. It’s about creating an US V Them dynamic that ensures the US have an enemy to focus on. The rationale being that having an enemy to focus on, strengthens and unites the US.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of the strategy, carefully and deliberatley cultivating enemies such as The FA; The BBC; Referees; Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger. All designed to unite his group in a common cause.

Now Hodgson has a ideal opportunity to do the same. The first name in The Them’s is Gary Lineker. Maybe Greg Dyke could join him. The enemy within. The doubter. Hodgson shouldn’t have much difficulty in making an enemy of the press either and thus adding to The Them’s.

Of course, to create a strong and powerful US, Hodgson’s players need to believe in him. A leader who doesn’t have the absolute trust of his players, can never create a united US. But with England facing two home games that will determine their 2014 World Cup fate, it’s the perfect time for Hodgson to bring his group together.

For the US v Them strategy to work, the US must feel as if the world is against them. That The Them’s want the US to fail. That any criticism from The Them’s is a personal attack on the whole group. Thus leading to a united group where everyone is focused on proving The Them’s wrong.

With England currently lumbering through qualifying, Roy Hodgson should be secretly welcoming Gary Lineker’s criticism.