Jose Mourinho And The Respect Agenda

It’s January 12th 2005 and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have drawn 0-0 at home against Manchester United in the first leg of the semi final of the Carling Cup. Honours even, Jose and Fergie retire for a glass of fine wine. But, disappointingly, the wine is mere plonk and the embarrassed Chelsea boss promises to rectify the situation for the away leg. He is as good as his word, arriving at Old Trafford with a bottle of Portugal’s finest vintage. Thus he would wish to show his respect for Sir Alex and all he has achieved and, by implication, he is […]

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Celebrations

In a recent survey for the Barclay’s Spaces For Sports project, Portsmouth’s back-flipping striker Lomana Lua-Lua was deemed to have the greatest celebration in the history of the Premiership, closely followed by Robbie Keane’s cartwheel celebration and Klinsmann’s ironic dive. Celebrations have become part of the DNA of sporting endeavour. The solid handshake or ‘high fives’ have become too common currency and form no real part of the modern goal celebration. Even after the most fortuitous goal imaginable, there must be jumping, hugging and kissing, for it is by such means that the players recognise their collective accomplishments. The psychology […]

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Robert Pires And The Lost Penalty

It’s late October and Arsenal’s stuttering premiership challenge is about to be resurrected as Robert Pires steps up to take his second penalty of the game against Manchester City. It is now the stuff of history that he tried to pass the ball to Henry, and failed. The comment it excited ranged, predictably, from amusement to outrage, but how, it was not asked, could a player as experienced as Pires, a World Cup winner, lose, by his own admission, his nerve at the last second. After all, this was not a spontaneous act, it had been pre-planned, on the suggestion […]

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Breaking The Stop Situation

It’s Denmark v. England in Copenhagen and England have capitulated. The chagrin of press and public could be anticipated; David James’, honest admittance that he hadn’t prepared properly couldn’t. Unsurprisingly, he is omitted from the next squad, whether for his goalkeeping errors or his candour is open to debate. Whilst many have been keen to point the finger at James, it cannot be overlooked that he had been allowed to play while in a state of unreadiness. Surely, it is the duty of a management team to recognise this and deal with it by correcting, like footballing occulists, the focus […]

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Jonathon Woodgate

Jonathon Woodgate speaks Spanish like a Mallorcan and has grown his hair like an Argentinian. He has spent the last fourteen months recovering from an injury he had before moving to Real Madrid. Now, with Real in crisis and Luxumbergo on the verge of dismissal, Woodgate is called in for his first game for the club. His first significant action is, freakishly, to divert an Athletico Bilbao shot into his own net; a little later he gets booked for a bad tackle and early in the second half he is dismissed after a second yellow card. While Woodgate gets a […]

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Psychovation

It’s high summer and the majority of Premiership coaches are relaxing on faraway beaches, seeking mental refreshment ahead of fresh challenges. One manager, however, has forsaken the towel and the tan. Stuart Pearce is overseeing the building of Manchester City’s new training centre. We shouldn’t be surprised at Pearce breaking with convention for it was he who, in the last game of the 2004-5 season, ordered goalkeeper, David James, to play upfield in an attempt to upset a nervous Middlesboro’ defence. Where in the FIFA Coaching Manual could such a tactic be found? Pearce has added a UEFA Pro Licence, […]

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Will And Belief

It’s early in the second half of the Champions League Final, 2005, AC Milan, having assumed complete control, stroke the ball around, three goals to the good, victory assured. Then, out of the blue, Steven Gerrard plants a looping header into the Rossoneri net. He hurries back to the centre circle, sensing a seminal moment. Four minutes later, as Liverpool draw level, his instincts are vindicated. So, how to explain the phenomenon of Liverpool in Istanbul? How could a game, that was so one-sided, be so radically transformed? As ever, there are clues to explain this puzzle. Reports of Milanese […]

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United We Stand

It’s the penultimate weekend of the Premiership season and Manchester United are hosting struggling West Bromwich Albion. Halfway through the second half, Giggs and Fortune combine to provide a gilt edged opportunity for Kleberson. The despondent Brazilian shoots wildly over. It’s just one of many golden chances spurned by the United forwards, to leave the fans confused and frustrated and the manager visibly embarrassed. It seems to be their season in summation. More goal attempts than any other Premiership team, yet only Blackburn and Southampton have converted a smaller percentage. One of the features of this campaign of underachievement has […]

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Ten To Three

It was recently reported that the inspirational Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been inviting members of his squad to deliver the motivational team-talk prior to kick off. This is an astute move by Mourinho. The benefits of this strategy are that it causes his players to have to think about their personal motivation. It also makes them consider their colleague’s motivation. It creates instant leadership. It builds trust. It empowers his players. It increases personal confidence. It makes the team-talk fun. So, if your manager invites you to address the team next Saturday, here are some key ingredients to draw […]

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Arsenal – The Psychology Of Defeat

The food fight at the end of the latest ‘match of the century’ generated more tabloid hyperbole than the typically fraught events on the pitch.Whilst removing pizza and soup from his suit would have proved a minor inconvenience to Sir Alex Ferguson, he would have taken satisfaction at the lack of self control demonstrated by Arsenal in defeat. In the psychological shoots-out which have come to characterise these games, it is a clear victory for the United boss and informs him that his main protagonist can still be got at. Unlike those in the Champions League, many teams in the […]

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