Football Psychology: Lee Johnson – The Perfect Fit!

A lot of managerial appointments in football seem to be little more than an exercise in fingers-crossed hope . Good networking; a strong well-practised interview; a reputation forged on past success. All these things can land you a decent job. But it doesn’t make you the right fit for a football club. However, sometimes the appointment just looks and feels right. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. David Moyes at Everton. Ian Holloway at Blackpool. More recently, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. There are lots of examples. The managers personality, values and philosophy matches that of the club, the fans and […]

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Football Psychology: Teddy Sheringham – Sacked!

So Teddy Sheringham is sacked as manager of Stevenage.  With only three points taken from the last eight games and the club hovering above the League Two trap-door, the former England striker was relieved of his duties, in this his first managerial post. One of the negative patterns that Sheringham wasn’t able to resolve, was that of his team conceding costly late goals. York City, Crawley Town, Leyton Orient and Yeovil were all beneficiaries of his sides inability to close out a game. The failure to solve problems is one of the most obvious reasons why a manager loses his […]

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Football Psychology: Ashley Young – Penalty!

‘If Ashley Young is a Manchester United player then I’m a Chinaman’. It’s Roy Keane speaking bluntly on ITV’s Champions League coverage after United’s narrow Old Trafford win over CSKA Moscow. With the score at nil-nil. Young has sought to con the referee with an obvious dive in the box. It’s only brought him stinging criticism from ex-professionals, instead of the game changing penalty he sought. The dive has been part of Young’s repetoire for a few years now. As if he has lost trust in his natural ability to beat a man in the box with quick feet or […]

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Football Psychology: Jose Mourinho – Beyond Us v Them!

It’s been his go-to strategy for most of his illustrious managerial career. Whenever he needed to sharpen his teams focus, or guard against success-inducing complacency, then Jose Mourinho would manufacture an enemy. Familiar targets – Biased Referees; The Media; The FA; Arsene Wenger…all served their purpose as acting as a false enemy (The THEM). Opposing forces who wanted to stop Chelsea succeeding. All designed by Jose, like Sir Alex Ferguson before him, to create a force field around his group The US. The bigger The THEM, the stronger The US becomes. And it’s a strategy that served him well. Until […]

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Football Psychology: Louis Van Gaal – Roulette!

Lucky!’ That was Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal’s assessment of Middlesboro’s Old Trafford shoot-out win last night. ‘It was more like the casino. Red or black’. It’s an old argument that you don’t hear trotted out too often in the modern era. The notion that what happens from twelve yards after extra-time, is seemingly in the lap of the footballing gods. A lottery. Out of the managers hands. So…the Dutchman is either putting a protective managerial shield around his players. Or failing to see the obvious. That the spot kick misses from Rooney, Carrick and Young weren’t unlucky. But […]

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Football Psychology: Blackpool – A Club Without Will!

One of the compelling features about Saturday nights England/Wales World Cup encounter was the total commitment the Welsh team gave in their desire to find a way to win. Commitment that could be seen in their energy, hunger, desire, collective spirit. Each player appeared to be giving his all for the cause.  Digging deep into their well of resources. It’s like witnessing the best of the human endeavour. Seeing people build their character through acts of will. When we discover that someone has taken performance enhancing drugs to succeed, then it leaves a bitter taste, knowing that they have not […]

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Football Psychology: Sunderland – Who Runs The Team?

It’s mid-way through the first half at the Stadium of Light. And Sunderland manager Gus Poyet is watching his team crumble without any sort of fight in a big relegation match. Aston Villa are running through Sunderland at will. You would expect him to be raging on the touchline. Demanding a response from his players. But no. His face is blank. As if he has no idea what is happening in front of him. And no idea of what to do about it. For this is a manager who is no longer in control of his team. When a team […]

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Football Psychology: Ian Holloway – Re-Imagine!

Where now for Ian Holloway? It was only four seasons ago that he was leading Blackpool in their ‘we will score more than you’, populist Premier League campaign. Now sacked at relegation threatened Millwall. the Bristolian appears to have lost his mojo. Holloway is a man of strong emotions. Thus when things go well he can create a feeling of euphoria around his place of work. But in difficult times, his melancholy and darker moods can impact negatively on his teams. This is a man who needs to keep a keen eye on his emotional well-being. When he was sacked […]

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Football Psychology: Jose Mourinho – Injustice!

It’s Sky Sports weekly football show Goals On Sunday. Former Blackburn and Southampton striker James Beattie is due to be the morning guest. But at the last minute he is bumped off. On the sofa is Jose Mourinho. It’s not the Mourinho way to open himself up for a cosy chat, whilst blandly discussing the relevant issues from the weekends action. And sure enough he has an agenda. Virtually the first half of the programme is given to Mourinho, so that he can vent about Martin Atkinson’s refereeing mistakes from the previous days draw with Burnley. Chris Kamara and co-host […]

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Football Psychology: Stuart Pearce – Whatever Happened To Psycho?

He was a club legend. A man who defined his career as a player with character, tenacity and a fighting spirit, that endeared him to fans of all clubs. But as a manager he is falling well short. Stuart Pearce’s sacking as Forest manager came as no surprise. A home defeat to struggling Millwall put an end to his brief reign at The City Ground. The image of Pearce on the pitch in euphoric celebration after the late winner at Derby, was a reminder of what might have been. The driven passionate punk rocker…putting all his emotions out there. Managing […]

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