Football Psychology: David De Gea – Present!

There are many fascinating moments in the Netflix documentary The Last Dance. One of which is when author Mark Vancil attempts to sum up what it is that makes basketball’s Michael Jordan great. ‘Being Present!’. That’s what makes Michael the best, says Vancil. He is always fully present. He’s a mystic. He is never anywhere else. His words came to mind when watching the FA Cup semi-final yesterday. Manchester United keeper David De Gea had a game to forget. Chelsea’s first goal from Olivier Giroud may have been saveable. But the second from a speculative drive from Mason Mount, was most […]

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Football Psychology: Liverpool – The New Impossible!

And so Liverpool’s Champions League defence is ended at the hands of a tough Athletico Madrid side. Despite giving everything, this felt like a step too far for Jurgen Klopp’s team. Which is hardly a surprise. Having set a potent trail in the Premier League all season, they look certain to secure their first title in thirty years. But in doing so they have had to break club patterns. Patterns related to near title misses; title under-performances; psychologies of being in the title shadow of Manchester United. All things that create a feeling of, ‘when is a Premier League win […]

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Football Psychology: Ronaldo – The Invisible Fans!

It’s arrival time for the Juventus team, ahead of their behind closed doors top of the table clash with Inter Milan. As Christiano Ronaldo steps off the team bus, he high fives the invisible fans who would normally be waiting to greet the Juventus team as they enter the Allianz Stadium. Then at the final whistle Ronaldo turns to applaud the invisible fans. This garners lots of easy laughs on social media. Except – what if this is all part of Ronaldo’s preparation and visualisation routine? In other words he has mentally prepared for this game, as if there are […]

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Football Psychology: Simon Grayson – Sacked!

So Simon Grayson is sacked as Blackpool manager. Heralded as the second coming, upon his return to the club at the start of the season, Grayson’s tenure lasted just more than half a season. Sometimes in a managerial career, the grind simply takes it’s toll. You become worn out. You don’t admit it. You think you have another big job in you. Another sleeping giant that you can turn around. But it’s a fantasy. Your moment has gone. The new ideas have run dry. Your motivational powers have weakened. Your ability to solve problems has diminished. And your energy levels […]

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Football Psychology: Eddie Howe – Principles!

So from being touted consistently for the best jobs in the Premier League, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is now favourite for the sack. His post-match interview after the home defeat to Watford, was grim.  Eddie said he was going to go away after the game, and reflect on whether he was still helping the team or not. The question itself, demonstrates a good amount of self-awareness. For out of self-awareness can come a diagnosis for change. A recognition of what isn’t working and a strategy to do something about it. When a manager has had success with a formula. a way […]

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Football Psychology: Tottenham Hotspur – The Reset!

We are barely a quarter into the season, and Spurs’s manager Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure. A faltering start to the campaign has got people asking questions about whether he has taken the Spurs as far as he can. Yet, only a few months ago, the Argentinian was leading them out in their first Champions League Final. After every major final loss, there is a natural period of comedown. A huge amount of mental and emotional energy is exerted in breaking a stop situation, and going further than you have gone before. If you win that final, then the collective […]

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Football Psychology: Vincent Kompany – The Unknowns!

There’s twenty minutes left on the clock. The Etihad is simmering with tension and anxiety. Brendan Rodgers defensive game plan is denying Manchester City opportunities. City’s title hopes are under threat. Then up steps Vincent Kompany. Bringing the ball forward, the Leicester defence back off and back off. Vinnie was not identified as a goal threat going forward! Brendan Rodgers had factored in everything else. But not this! Moments later Kompany’s blistering twenty-five yarder hits the back of the net. And the ground goes crazy. No one wanted or expected the City captain to shoot. But that was precisely the […]

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Football Psychology: Maurizio Sarri – Motivation!

It’s a critical time in Maurizio Sarri’s brief Chelsea career. Humbling losses to Bournemouth, Manchester City and United have created the feeling that the sack is imminent. One of the key things to come from his recent post-match debriefs, was the admittance that he wasn’t motivating his players. This is enough to get alarm bells ringing. Motivation is the oil that turns the wheels of the success machine. Without it, things quickly grind to a halt. Players start to look disinterested and lacking in energy and vibrancy. Defeats come easily. Motivation can work on an individual and collective level. At […]

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Football Psychology: Cardiff City – Emiliano!

It’s the aftermath of Cardiff City’s vital win against Bournemouth. And Cherries boss Eddie Howe looks completely flat. His team haven’t been able to handle Cardiff’s intensity; desire and will. They have not only lost the game physically. They have lost it emotionally too. But none of this is surprising. Yesterday would probably have been Emiliano Sala’s debut for Cardiff. The floral tributes outside the stadium, demonstrated how much his disappearance has touched the hearts of the Cardiff public. A cause is one of the powerful motivators in sport. Having something or someone to play for outside of yourself. A […]

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Football Psychology: Marco Silva – Set Pieces!

It’s an afternoon of high drama at the New Den, as Millwall put Everton out of the FA Cup. Three set-piece goals expose the Merseysider’s achilles heel, and pile the pressure on Marco Silva. It’s still January and Everton have conceded fourteen set -piece goals this season. Making the heart of the penalty-box a critical target for opposition strategists. One of the things that generally sets apart the best managers from the rest, is the ability to solve problems quickly. Good problem solving involves honesty, smart analysis; an attention to detail; the ability to sometimes swallow your pride and admit […]

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