I was reminded of the biggest pressure in football when working with a group of players last week. You might think it’s the fans, the manager, the board, the league table or some other random outside influence.
It is not any of these things. Take a look at Everton for example. As I write this they are at the bottom of the Premier League with only three points on the board. Most observers already know this is not where they will end up. The players know this, the chairman, the fans and the manager all know for sure that they will finish in a safe positon – probably in the top half of the league. David Moyes got a standing ovation when walking past the fans at Craven Cottage at the weekend and Bill Kenwright was almost apologetic for not having given him more money in the summer.
A club under pressure? I think not.
At the other end of the scale we see someone like Rob Green – being made England’s number 1 at the World Cup is a dream but did he look like a player at the very top of the pile having been given the ultimate vote of confidence? Not a bit.
So if it isn’t outside influence that is the greatest pressure that only leaves one thing. Us. Our more importantly our thoughts.
Here’s another example. A player I worked with recently was playing particularly badly because his manager didn’t rate him. The player had played in every game of the season so far and was keeping out one of the clubs highest paid players. He had two explainations for why he thought the manager wasn’t his biggest fan 1) He likes taller players 2) He never says “well done” to me in front of the other lads. Reading this you can already see what little sense this makes, but this players was wrapped up in his own thoughts to the point that he had lost his form. If it carried on he would have proved his own point and the gaffa would have had to leave him out.
The reality was that the manager wanted him in the team for a whole number of reasons that I won’t go into here. Once the player knew this he immediately started playing well and scoring again.
Football is a higly pressurised game. Whether you are a manager, player or coach you have to learn to recognise and be able to seperate the ‘real’ outside pressures from these you are creating in your own mind.