Football Psychology: David Moyes – Bouncebackability!

Football PsychologyLast weekend questions were being asked of David Moyes’s leadership. His Everton team had failed to turn up for their biggest game of the season. With a place at Wembley beckoning, The Toffeemen took Wigan Athletic for granted and paid the price.

So could Moyes motivate his team to deliver an Everton-like performance against Manchester City? The answer was evident after only a few minutes.

They tore into Manchester City with intensity, passion and desire. And they never let up even with ten men. It was possibly The Premier League performance of the season.

It would have been easy for Everton to feel sorry for themselves. Lick their wounds. Players blaming each other for the FA Cup flop. But no. Moyes used the pain of defeat as a motivational tool to refocus his group. Refocus them on the core values and qualities that Everton are known for.

Moyes would have pointed out to his group that the US, the team collective, had become inveigled by an enemy within – COMPLACENCY! Leading to a dropping of intensity, passion and desire.

When an enemy within takes hold inside a group, it takes strong leadership to negate it. Prevent that negativity becoming a habit. Recognise it’s influence and how it affects individual and collective behaviour.

Negativity like complacency, can become ‘owned’ by small groups or cliques of players. These cliques can subtly undermine what the group is trying to do. This influence can go unchallenged, especially if the group lacks strong leadership. And as a result the clique gets stronger, and attracts weak-minded others into it’s ranks.

Players are aware that something doesn’t feel right, but are afraid of challenging others, in case it leads to confrontation. And confrontation means rocking the boat, and making potential enemies!

For Everton to re-discover their momentum so quickly, tells you that this is a group with strong internal character. Players who are not afraid to tell it like it is. Speak frankly. Name the enemy within.

At the bear-pit that was Goodison Park yesterday, the Everton players did not want to let each other down. Be the individual who became a conduit for the enemy that is complacency. The intensity they threw at Manchester City, was the evidence of the collective desire to destroy any lingering weakness in the group. It was a triumph of leadership.

Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.