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Posted in: High Performance Coaching

Why do England footballers always crumble under pressure?

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  • Blake

    And so the inquest begins. Roy Hodgson has resigned and the shockwaves will continue to reverberate across the nation for months to come after players who perform week in, week out at the highest level for their clubs, yet again acted like rabbits caught in headlights at the first sign of pressure in a major tournament. What dark magic is at work when players pull on an England jersey? They have daily access to the best psychologists and psychotherapists and yet get psyched out by a team whose transfer value is far less than the fee Manchester City paid for Raheem Sterling. 'Chokers' is not too strong a word. I don't personally believe you can question the commitment or passion of the players, so what is this sorcery that is unleashed every two years? From a coaching point of view, the performance against Iceland was an utter shambles, but there is surely more to England's horrendous record in European Championship finals than poor coaching and players who freeze. Or is it actually that simple, just a blatant failure to cope with extreme pressure, as previous penalty heartaches also suggest? (won 1, lost 5 in major tournaments) Does anyone have any clues as to the root of the problem?

  • IanMahoney

    Paid too much money.

    If I performed at work lkie they do, I'll  be 'docked' pay! 

  • skitson

    Where does one begin to try and say something of note that someone else hasn't already said in the last 20 years in the hope of change? I agree I don't think their passion and commitment can be questioned however, both necessities are more complex then perhaps we care to understand and perhaps not exuded in the most beneficial way for the team. For me players have to exude passion in every aspect of being an international football player not just on the pitch - passion to keeping learning, passion for the style of play the team implements, passion to truly submerse oneself within the game of football. Similarly for commitment, commitment to become intelligent football players, commitment to lead, to be led, committment to the coaching philosophy, commitment to each other, commitment in adversity. Unfortunately, some of these aspects I don't think there is the passion or commitment or possibly the understanding around how to be passionate and commited towards these vital aspects of international football. 

    I enjoyed reading parts from the book 'Legacy' that looks at the culture of the all blacks as a team, their ethos, how they behave on and off the pitch, instil certain values and most importantly try to leave the shirt in a better place than when they first wore it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJWA0uGLn7E This is a team with direction, leadership and collective representation with passion and commitment throughout.

  • Coach_Browning

    For me an interesting point is to look at how many foreign clubs are queing up to sign our "top" players. We say that our players are the best in the world - Ok, then why aren't foreign clubs trying to get hold of them the same way that we try to get hold of foreign players?

    I would also argue that the premiership has become a money driven league and the lure of a foreign "star" is worth more to a club than truely developing home grown talent.

    However, to look at this from a coaching perspective I think that there has been a systematic failure to:

    1) Create a consistent culture within the England set up that demands excellence

    2) Create a true leadership culture within the players so that there is someone who will take the game by the scruff of the neck. 

    While a different sport, I think you can use the example of the All blacks here. There they have a very clear culture and a strong player leadership that allows them to take charge of a game. Against Iceland I never saw this from England. I dont doubt that it meant a lot to them - you can tell from the reactions at the end - but there was noone on that field that attempted to take control of what was happening and dictate the game. It was a team disjointed and devoid of ideas.

    I will say that I dont think the British media helps. I see it in other England teams - there is a desire to make sure that they dont lose first rather than go out to try and win. Again, contrast this to the All Blacks or, to pick another sport, the Aussie Cricket team in the days of Waugh when they would just attack relentlessly and play for a result - even if that meant coming up short. So I think that this has played into the minds of the coaches...but still I think that the above 2 points are the main causes of the problem. While I dont think the players are necessarily as good as they/we think they are (see my very first point) there are teams that are showing what can be done with a lesser skill set.

    Once these things are sorted then I think that it will help to solve the next problem I see in that I dont think anyone has really worked out what type of football they want the England team to play. There is a desire for them to be like Spain and be some sort of fluid passing/attacking masterclass. However, I just dont think England have the players for that. Again England seem to be a team that just does not know what it is trying to do - and that lands firmly at the door of the coach. He has to set the scheme that best fits his players and maximises their potential - not bow to outside pressure of what non-qualified people think should be played.

  • Deborah

    Simon, your first paragraph sums it up perfectly!  Our Premier League is absolutely stuffed with foreign players who see the obscene amount of wages they can warn. I very much doubt many people could name more than one British, let alone English player who is in a foreign team! Kids going into our "Elite" Academies are, for the most part, wasting their time and their young lives as the chances of making it into the big time are slim.  If we continue to play people in different positions to those they are used to, it causes fragmentation and stuttered play.  I am simply aghast at how incompetant our players are at taking corners. The ball either flies so far over head that no one can attempt a header, or it fails to make it into the box.  I am, at this moment consoling my husband who has just come back from going to all the games. To rub salt into the wound, he lost his ticket for the match in Nice, had to buy another, luckily at face value, and for what?!! I think I would have taken it as an Omen!

  • Deborah

    Oops, typo, meant to say earn not warn!

  • pdcollier

    I think the trouble is that the current culture of English football develops weak characters (many with a what can I get away with approach) low on mental toughness, and doesn't value (football) intelligence enough (MOTD quote from a manager recently - "I don't want players in my team to think").

    Obviously there are many individual exceptions to this, but I think the overall picture is accurate. I agree that there is no doubting the England players athleticism and commitment to the cause, but of those players on the field against Iceland - which ones stood up to be counted, providing leadership for the others, which ones would you say were the smart players who could out think their opponents?

    By way of another example, did anyone see the League Of Thier Own tv show special when James Corben, Freddie Flintoff, Jack Whitehall and Jamie Redknapp visited the USA? On several occasions when tested in a range of activities Jamie Redknapp (former professional footballer) did nothing but whinge, moan and find excuses to quit when compared to the others. 

    Weak character is exposed when the pressure is on.

  • Ralph

    Ok let’s start with what it is not, this might seem like cheating or the long winded approach but it has a major precedence.

    So what isn’t it?

    1. Can’t be lack of talent, although they clearly weren’t good enough, doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough. England players are clearly more talented, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation, the conversation is based on the frustration of losing to a less talented team. It’s the most common mistake all humans make, correlation is causation. One of the best things one of my 16 year old elite juniors said was, “Winning doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good person, and losing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person.” He went on to be a top 20 adult nationally ranked athlete, whilst getting his Oxbridge 1st class degree in astrophysics. So you’d think, “well he was always going to say brite things.” Wrong. Since I had coached him for 10 years, I’d seen and heard some pretty dumb things he also did. Although he is now finishing off his PhD, doesn’t stop me reminding him of when he…:0(

    Just because you’ve done a PhD doesn’t necessarily mean your wise nor not doing a PhD necessarily means your dumb. Correlation is not necessarily causation.

    1. Can’t be lack of fitness. These guys have the best S&C trainers in the world and they barely broke into a sweet against Iceland because they froze. They also have the best dieticians, Physios and medical staff, (I did a course at Chelsea FC, wow is all I can say). They didn’t try because they couldn’t try.
    2. Can’t be Prima-donnas. Apart from the fact, they didn’t play that way, PD’s love the adulation of performing (Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic). PDs don’t crumble, they have neurotic instability, which basically means, they blame everyone except themselves, PDs can never be wrong. The English don’t do PD’s it’s not in our nature, (Elton John a possible exception. I can only think of Daly Thompson as a possible PD in the English sports arena). But yes, there is something missing.
    3. Can’t be commitment and passion for all the many reason above and below, they provide the commitment and passion but there is something missing mentally.
    4. Can’t be pay, (apart from the fact that, I wouldn’t turn down that money, nor should they), that’s the going rate for a Prem footballer, playing badly negatively effects their value. They wouldn’t risk their career and value. I get the foreign team argument but why should they go aboard if the pay is better at home? Few foreign clubs can afford a Premier player. And surely English players can only learn from the best if they are training with them. Rashford is being given Zlatan to have a mentorship. It’s up to the English to step up, not the premiership to limit foreigners, that the nature of competition. Step up. Vast majority of kids in the whole world are “wasting their time trying make it elite” in any sport, doesn’t stop them from trying, doesn’t stop me from encouraging them, as long as I’m honest enough to accept it’s a lottery. More chance of playing for England than it is of winning the lottery though.
    5. Can’t be psychological because, yes they do have the best mental help and they perform week in, week out internationally, under the SAME pressure as the Euro’s. If they were mentally weak, they wouldn’t have got to international premiership level. Yet freeze and crumble certainly happened because of what’s missing.
    6. Can’t be coincidence. This has not been going on for 20years, more like 50years, after failing to reach a major international final for 50 years (excluding small peeks in 86 and 96). After Brazils disaster they got worse, I didn’t think that was possible.
    7. Can’t be just freeze and rabbit crumble, most have heard of natural fight and flight reflexes, many people have heard of freeze as a natural response. These are normal responses all humans have, not just the English and not just footballers. You all saw the penalties last night. But why consistently England internationals?
    8. Can’t be the wrong type of players. Ray Wilkins thinks we don’t produce enough defenders, although true, that doesn’t account for why our forwards froze. Doesn’t matter how many you let in, as long as you score more than the other team. No team has ever qualified with 3 nil-nil draws. Italy are famous for being happy with a 1-nil win.
    9. It can’t be the British Media, who are ruthless in their destruction of past managers and players; because the other countries press is just as ruthless to their players and managers, when they under perform.
  • Ralph

    If nobody has any objection to the above, I’ll go on to part two? But be warned, it ain’t pretty. For those of you with a nervous or sensitive disposition please don’t read my theory.

     Well a possible reason why we have the problem of “Where does one begin to try and say something of note that someone else hasn't already said” is because they’ve been looking in the wrong places and therefore asking the wrong questions. I think I’ve found four people that have just asked the right questions below.

     “England’s ultimate humiliation: a country where Governments crumble, markets collapse, and the nations football team loses to Iceland.”PAUL HAYWARD

    “I have no faith whatsoever in the FA picking the right man for the job.We've got the farcical situation of Dan Ashworth picking the next England manager and I'm really not sure about his credentials either. It appears that anyone connected with West Brom seems to have a chance.” HARRY REDKNAPP

    “Weight of history has led to a culture of fear for England and that must change.”STEVEN GERRARD

    “England won't win a tournament in my lifetime.” RAY WILKINS

     

    The actual question should be; So what’s the difference between club international and country international. They can do it for their club, why not the country?

    Blake gives a clue as to what is going on, “dark magic and sorcery” because Blake is right, there IS more or rather something else to “England's horrendous record in European (and World) Championship finals than poor coaching and players who freeze.” What is that something else?

     ALL species, including Humans are a product of their environments. The human physiology and psychology is form way before even birth by external and extrinsic factors. All the intrinsic stuff is already written in the DNA blueprint and will happen almost no matter what. The DNA decides the architecture of the building, environmental factors decide the emotions that decorate the building. Emotions give our lives meaning.

     As coaches, you’re only as good as the quality that comes through your door, the really good coaches can make a silk purse and can somehow fit the round peg in the square hole and they do it by striping out all the old extrinsic environmental factors that limit their potential.

     Football is mostly a working class sport and is going to attract athletes mostly from that environment. If they come from a fractious environment, you will get a fractious athlete. You freeze any chemical, it fractures, worse than a bunch of stars not playing as a team, but a bunch of players with no identity outside their club at all. That my theory in a nutshell.

     Where-as, Wales moto, “Stronger together”; Island, “band of Brothers”. Blake puts it brilliantly, as his picture is of him with his arms around his family, (I assume they are his kids, they are a lot better looking than him). Of Sion’s list the most important is “commitment to each other”, that the missing bit, Wales and Island have. As Simon said, “disjointed”. The Sum will always be great the the total parts, understand that, understand how part timers can beat individual superstars. It’s a team game, just like life. Collective representation is the legacy. Otherwise why on earth are you lot members of Connect coaches? Idle curiosity, parasitic information gathering or do you think us coaches should, could and can band together and make profound changes?

    Perhaps as members of CC we can work on a collective ethos, manifesto. At the moment any numpty can join CC, perhaps all members have to sign up to a code of collective representation?

     

    All Black’s are doing it, Yoga alliance have their version calling it the “soft revolution”; British cycling team call it “cage the monkey. The science of Emergence, the sum is greater than the parts.

  • Ralph
    On 30/06/16 10:11 AM, Phil Collier said:

    Obviously there are many individual exceptions to this, but I think the overall picture is accurate.

    You are right Phil but theirs an even bigger picture.

    Don’t blame the players, don’t blame the foreigners nor the wages, don’t blame the coaches and don’t blame the game, they are all a product of their environment. How on earth do you create winners form such a losing environment. We are all a product of our culture. Our “nice” English culture allows and breeds the shambles of politicians we inherit. The weaker our character, the easier we are to be controlled The British system doesn’t want you to be intelligent and doesn’t want you to think. It wants to shout at you, to stop you thinking and just do as your told. Project Fear verses Project hate. Intelligence is now based upon amount of stuff our kids know, rather than on what they understand.

     Never before have we seen such a fractious Government. In two years, two leaders of major parties resign Clegg and Miliband. Scotland votes to break UK and votes to stay in Euro. Farage goes, comes back and goes again. UK resigns from Europe, and because it was such a close call, splits the country in two. Cameron resigns and tells Corbyn to resign, upon which half the Labour cabinet resign. And of course Hodgson resigns because England don’t play as a team. For those that don’t know the main strategy of the British Empire, it’s divide and conquer, no surprise it’s come to bite us back.

     Many of you younger coaches wont know the below but you will be coaching children that were directly affected by the below.

     70’s: Start of the peak of the N.Ireland troubles, race rioting in Notting Hill. Coal strikes, unemployment double in two years, bloody Sunday kills 14 coroner calls the army murderers families given £42k compensation, CND demo’s, rise of football hooliganism and the football league called for the government to “bring back the birch to deal with them”, 3day working week, inflation peaks at 24%, Jimmy Saville starts his TV career, National Front riots, Man U. FC expelled from cup winners cup for fans rioting, The England football team fails to achieve World Cup qualification for the second tournament in succession, Brian Clough denied job despite being the most successful manager at the time, national strikes cause the winter of discontent.

    80’s: British Olympics association go against government and send athletes to Russia, economic recession twice in 5years, Brixton and wide spread national Riots, 3+million unemployed for fifth straight year, England qualify for world cup after 12years but fail to qualify for euros 2years later, Falklands war, miners strikes, Valley Parade and Heysel stadium kills 100, UEFA ban all English clubs for 5years, England qualify for Mexico but lose to the “hand of god”, Lord Scarman blames racial discrimination and economic deprivation for the many riots, a week later Cynthia Jarman dies following a police search which triggers Tottenham riots and the killing of PC Blakelock, Government state unemployment is an unacceptable excuse for the riots, Gov corruption found over the Westlands affair, rioting in many prisons nationally, 20% of British children are now born out of wedlock, England finish bottom of euros group stage, Hillsborough disaster kills 95 fans blamed, England qualify for Italy world cup. Hungerford 16 murdered.

    90’s: Poll Tax riots begin, another 3million unemployment peak, England fail to qualify for the USA world cup, increase police powers for stop and search, England reach semi finals euros, Steven Lawrence murdered and later report claims Police are institutionally racist, Dunblane 16 children murdered, Martin Bell voted in as an independent anti-corruption MP, Omagh bomb kills 29, England manager Glenn Hoddle suggests that people born with disabilities are paying for sins in a previous life, Harold shipman murders 15.

  • Ralph

    http://theconversation.com/unleashing-the-dragon-how-wales-got-so-good-at-football-62143

  • Ralph

    https://danielparnellblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/where-did-it...

  • Ralph

    theconversation.com/what-englands-new-manager-can-teach-business...

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