Sven Goran Eriksson – Mission Impossible?

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He arrived to a standing ovation at Upton Park. As if the East Enders, loyal to the national cause, sensed in the calm Swede the something else, the something different, the calming, indefinable ingredient x-the healing England needed after the emotional excesses of the Keegan era.

And, initially, he delivered. Lifting the shadow of fear, encouraging his young charges to, in sports psychology parlance, dare to lose to win, the Germans were routed in memorable fashion in Munich. Prompting the belief that the World Cup could be taken from the French.

It wasn’t just the freedom with which the players expressed themselves that suggested this. Eriksson’s bearing and demeanour informed us that he could envision glory in the Far East. Build it and it will come. In his precise presence success would beget success.

Answers From The Sports Psychologists…
Then somehow, somewhere, the potency of the vision was dissipated. Was it his rumoured dalliance with Ulrika that contrived to weaken the power? Was it his willingness to capitalise on his fame and trouser easy money? The phone ins were demanding answers from the nations sports psychologists.

Either way the Swede became merely another England manager at the mercy of the press.Meaningless friendlies followed meaningless friendlies. The absence of meaning in these games was caused by the absence of a sense of mission.

His inability to clearly communicate his purpose undermined him at this point, making him seem weak rather than quietly determined. Significance is found in the part each game plays in realising the mission. In the psychology of sport, without a mission there is no real meaning. It becomes just another game in the footballing roadshow.

A true mission must be greater than the sum of the individual parts. It must have connective power. A true mission is born out of decent values. Its obligatory for those who takes sports psychology seriously.

It must be about what you are playing for. It could be for country or the way in which you want to take the game forward. Being a trailblazer. Shaping the way the game is played in the 21st Century. Leading the way for others to follow.

Bayern Munich’s mission is known as ‘More than one-nil.Soccer for the greater good of society’. Thus everyone in the Bayern organisation knows that their work is contributing to this mission. All are clear about the part they play. Is this the case in the FA?

The Sports Psychology Summary…
The mission can connect all concerned to the core of the game itself. The game needs its evolutionary agents. Otherwise it stagnates. When the mission is right the game envelopes the team and the team elevates the game. All win. The mission both rises above mediocrity but has to find its own level, it cannot extend the team beyond its capacity. The trick is to provide the belief but not to make the dream unrealisable.

There is a place at the head of the footballing table for a team that wants to take the game on to its next level. You sense that Erikkson knows the opportunity awaits but does he have the acumen to make it so? Can he dare to lose to win?