Rod McLaughlin

Another night in Idaho Falls (27 apr 12)

It's going to snow


Football and Psychology

Sir Alex Ferguson is the master of mind-games. When Tottenham were third, he said they were plaing the best football in the league. Clearly, they weren't - they were playing the third-best football in the league. It worked though - it went to their heads. Much worse was the resignation of Fabio Capello from the England coach's job. Harry Redknapp, Tottenham's manager, is overwhelming favourite for the position. Though he denies it, his mind shifted from the Premier League to the European Championships, and the team became unsettled. Their results went from non-stop wins to non-stop losses, with an occasional draw.

Capello resigned because the Football Association had demoted team captain, John Terry, without asking him. First, the p.c. wankers who run the country charged Terry with the thought crime of 'racism'. Then, their counterparts in the FA decided he couldn't be captain while awaiting trial. They fired him without consulting Capello. He had to resign, and Harry immediately became favourite to replace him.

You might think professional athletes and coaches are above mind-games, but the opposite is the case. They are under so much pressure, a bit of psychological warfare can destroy their form.

Manchester City are second, after Manchester United. City's manager, Roberto Mancini, started the mind games by claiming that United showed desperation in bringing Paul Scholes back from retirement, as if he's an old age pensioner. This was a ridiculous jibe, but it goaded United's coach, Alex Ferguson, into retorting that City depend on two players whom Mancini had said won't play again - Tevez and Balotelli. True, but they are both brilliant. Carlos Tevez took five months off this season, came back, and started scoring like he'd never been away. Mario Balotelli is suspended for persistent fouling, but City seem to do better without him.

Then Mancini played his ace. United were nine points ahead of City, and Mancini said to his team "relax, guys - we can't win the league". So they did relax. And scored. And won. And won. While United had a mixture of wins, draws, and losses. Now United are only one win ahead, with three games to play. One of those games is Manchester City at home against Manchester United - Monday, April 30. City expect to win.

Sir Alex might at last have met his match. But I don't think so.



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