This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Winning mentality

Head coaches

Watching his team run through a series of routine training exercises in the early evening sun before the 2009 UEFA Champions League final at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Pep Guardiola turned to FC Barcelona’s fitness coach Paco Seirullo. Without any drama he revealed that he was cutting the warm- up short. “Paco, we have ten minutes,” Guardiola said. “But I need seven.” Guardiola’s players were soon back in the dressing

room where his staff readied a screen and projector that had been brought over from Barcelona’s training ground the day before and hidden in a wardrobe. Guardiola turned off the lights and pressed play. Flashing before the players’ eyes was footage of their season neatly spliced with action from director Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning movie Gladiator. Each member of the squad – whether a Barcelona protagonist or a fringe player – had deliberately been given the same amount of airtime. No one was missing, not even suspended players Dani Alves and Éric Abidal. The clear message was summed up by the bold text with which Guardiola ended the movie: “We are the centre of the pitch, we are precise, we are our effort, we are attackers who defend, we are defenders who attack, we are respected by our rivals, we are recognised by our rivals, we are every goal that we

‘‘ ,,

We are precise, we are our effort, we are attackers who defend, defenders who attack. We are one

In their quest to inspire their players to win the European crown, managers have called on Barack Obama, Rudyard Kipling and golf

After contrasting build-ups to the 1967 final, Armando Picchi and Billy McNeil could barely wait for kick-off in Lisbon

score, we are those who always look for our opponent’s goal, WE ARE ONE.” When the lights went up some players were crying, others shouting. Guardiola didn’t need to say a word. Pumped up, his players strolled bullishly past him out on to the pitch and comfortably won Barcelona’s third UEFA Champions League.

Such tactics convince Andy Barton, a top sports psychologist, that Guardiola prefers to motivate his team with a carrot rather than a stick: “He wants to emphasise to his players the mission ahead and keep them focused on team identity, stressing that the team is greater than the sum of the individuals. The images of each of the Barcelona players performing brilliantly and coherently instil positive emotions in the players. He is telling them they are great players and a great team, and providing evidence to support his claims.” The aim is to ensure what Will Railo, also a sports psychologist, calls “the right level of mental tension”. Too little, and players can seem lethargic. Too much, and they may be distracted from the task in hand. Indeed, for the first ten minutes in Rome, Guardiola’s men looked as if the movie was more vivid than the final. But a goal by Samuel Eto’o provided the jolt that helped Barcelona focus and go on to win in style. Guardiola isn’t the only coach to use a visual aid to focus his players before such an important occasion. Carlo Ancelotti premiered his own blockbuster before AC Milan’s UEFA Champions League final against Juventus at Old Trafford in 2003. He used Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday with images of the Rossoneri’s European campaign to achieve the desired effect. “I should have put myself forward for an Oscar for best screenplay,” he joked in his autobiography. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16
Produced with Yudu -