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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David Beckham

It’s the last twenty minutes of England’s open World Cup qualifying match in Vienna and David James has had another goalkeeping moment to forget. The Austrians can sense weakness. A minor World Cup upset is looming and the English press are poised to write Sven’s obituary. It’s at key times like this that on-field leadership is called for. Captain, David Beckham, however, has become meshed in the webs of diffidence and anxiety which have increasingly discomforted him. Three days later, Terry Butcher broaches the question that many online gossipers have been asking for some time, ‘How many great games has […]

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Jeff Whitley

It’s play off semi-final Monday at the Stadium of Light. The dramatic penalty shoot-out has finished. Defeated Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy is seething; he directs his anger at a plastic bucket; his dream of leading the Wearsiders back to the Premiership is over for now. McCarthy has just witnessed the sixth Sunderland penalty. And Jeff Whitley is the man to incur the manager’s wrath. Whitley, in an attempt to outwit Crystal Palace keeper Nico Vaessen, has fluffed his spot kick. Vaessen saves easily. Palace score and win. The Black Cats are out. Whitley joins a long, notorious line of penalty […]

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Wiseguy

Millwall have just defeated Sunderland in the FA Cup semi-final. On the pitch, the Lion’s emotional, eccentric chairman Theo Paphitis is being interviewed. Suddenly, sprinting towards him, is his feisty manager, Dennis Wise. Wise grabs him, hugs him, slaps kisses on him. It is genuine and even dignified. True bonding. You couldn’t imagine Wenger and David Dein cavorting in this unfettered manner, but the incident is indicative of the powerful spirit that runs like a silver thread through the New Den. A greater test awaits Wise at the Millennium Stadium. Will his young charges freeze on the day? The evidence […]

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Joe Kinnear – The Gospel According To St. Bill

Troubled Nottingham Forest, feeling the inglorious pull of Division Two, lose Hart, and issue an eleventh hour call for Joe Kinnear. Save us, is the plaintive plea! As with many new coaches, his impact is immediate, turning defeats into draws with last minute goals. Forest’s pretty, precise passing game is now imbued with a sense of purpose, spirit and energy. The footballing present is forever shaped by the generations who have gone before. The ghosts of managerial innovators who moved the English game on lurk, Ramsay’s work ethic and 442; Revie’s copious note taking; Shankly’s religious credo; Clough’s arcane art […]

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Thierry Henry

It’s moments after champions Arsenal and, more specifically, Thierry Henry have put troubled Leeds United to the sword in a Friday spectacular at Highbury. The Frenchman is dutifully collecting another man of the match award, and seems slightly distant and pre-occupied. Sky’s Clare Tomlinson is asking the questions and wants to know if the Player of the Year is experiencing the best form of his career. ‘I don’t know and I don’t want to know’ snaps the Frenchman. It is as if to dare to be self-analytical, for a moment even, would somehow pierce the sheath of perfection he has […]

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Gerard Houllier

It’s FA Cup third round Sunday, and as Emile Heskey finally breaks the sturdy Yeovil resistance, the BBC cameras pan to Gerard Houllier. The Frenchman puffs his cheeks in relief; relief that a giant killing will not now materialise; relief that he has bought time from those who, with each Liverpool under-achievement, demand his head. Failure to win a Champions League place will increase the pressure on Houllier, and the question remains as to why a man who restored pride and hunger to this famous club, has been unable to build on his early success. A few weeks ago, before […]

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The Loneliness of the Foreign Import

Its half time in the first Portsmouth-Southampton South Coast derby for years and the Sky punditry team of John Beresford and Ian Dowie are dissecting the action. Beresford is sorely tempted to cross the unspoken line and break the professionals’ code of honour. He is suggesting that, by Zivkovic giving the ball away cheaply in a dangerous area, leading to the opening Saints goal, by Srnicek attempting to save with his feet not his hands, Portsmouth don’t fancy the battle. The implication seems to be that this South Coast derby may be a matter of consequence for the fans, but […]

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Graham Souness, Blinded By The Light

My name is Graham Souness, I will have my vengeance in this life or the next. For the gladiator, the fight against injustice is eternal, When victory is on the line you can be sure Graham Souness will be at your side, burning with pride and unquenchable will. In the recent Blackburn-Liverpool Carling Cup encounter, visiting fans taunted Souness, from the sanctuary of a 4-1 scoreline, with ‘Souness, Souness what’s the score?’ Mocking the iron-man legend who used to drive the Liverpool midfield engine with such high-octane authority. ‘You get in first before they get you’, was his credo. You […]

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Premiership Postures

This report was created by Martin Perry, exclusively for the London Times. The aim of this special Sports Psychology report is to give insight into the body language and psychology of the Premiership managers It is obvious that the job of a Premiership manager is stressful; we dont need the evidence of Houlliers heart attack to convince us of that. Every time they lead their teams to the white line they are under the spotlight of the television cameras; they have to learn how to deal with that glare; it heightens emotions and bleaches out uncertainty in the viewers eyes. […]

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