Isn’t it fascinating what’s going on at the World Cup? For a start there’s the match results – they’re completely unpredictable, which is keeping the tournament result wide open and exciting. European teams are realising that they no longer reign supreme in the footballing world and are having to work very hard to earn their places in the last 16 – I’m writing this before England play their third game so who knows what’s going to happen there!
What’s more interesting to me as a coach is the discussion that’s going on about the role of the England Manager. It seems to be the general opinion that the current England squad are, individually, the most talented bunch we’ve had in a generation. So why aren’t they fulfilling their individual potential? People were saying after the last match that they looked unfit during the game. I don’t buy into that theory – they’re training all the time so they have to be physically fit. Also, imagine you were one of the players – it would have been your dream to play for England since being a little lad so there would be no lack of motivation. What would make much more sense is that their mental game is dodgy – from where I was sitting they were totally lacking in any flair and looked nervous. Given the players have the skill, experience and the motivation, their poor performance has to be about their emotional state. No-one performs well if they’re nervous and de-moralised – it’s the coach’s job to raise their spirits so that they can tap into their innate skill. So has Capello inspired his team? Clearly not. What needs to happen? They need to RELAX and have FUN – someone please tell them that football’s a GAME. To be honest, I want them to relax and play well so that I can relax and enjoy the match. My emotional state has NOT been good during the England matches. Inspire them for my sake, Capello!