Double edged drubbing raises big questions

BEATING Chelsea could prove to be a double-edged sword for Steve McClaren.
Yes it is ‘magnificent’ that Boro battered the champions. Yes it was a superb example of the sum adding up to more than the parts. And yes it was a morale-booster that banished the relegation blues.
But on the downside a new standard has now been set and people will now quite rightly demand Boro do that to lesser teams every week.
And they will be asking why it hasn’t happened every week before now.

And it is a good question. Now the euphoria has faded supporters can be forgiven for scratching their heads and wondering why a team that can play with such power, pace, crisp attacking movement and defensive solidity against a team of supermen can’t sweep aside the mere mortals and makeweights.
If is not something that can be dismissed glibly as ‘typical Boro’ or part of some historical enigma beyond control. Having frustrating inconsistancy as the default setting should not be accepted.
Fans are right to question such wild swings in performance levels and to wonder why it takes the prospect of a glamour game to drag out of Boro the kind of displays we know are possible.
One widely touted explanation is that Boro were highly motivated for the Chelsea game. They were “up for it”. They played above themselves as they rose to the daunting challenge of the champions.
Laudable though that successful mental self-preparation is, it is also deeply worrying. Worrying because it is not routine. If they are up for the visit of the glamour sides then why not for the also-rans?
We are told that this current Boro is more professional, more scientific, more nutritionally, tactically and psychologically tuned and more meticulously prepared than any previous set-up in history.
So how do you explain spineless and shapeless collective capitulations like those against Arsenal or Aston Villa? If Chelsea was the result of intense managerial motivation what must we make of the season’s low points?
And if it was the result of individual self motivation shouldn’t we be pointing the finger at those who are buzzing for the big ones but can’t manage to be “up for it” in a mundane mid-table match? Because there are more of them. And right now they are more important.

2 thoughts on “Double edged drubbing raises big questions

  1. I couldn’t agree more, but would also question the backroom staff.
    Despite the many coaches and trainers [more numerous than most premiership teams], Boro also employ a sports psychologist [Bill Beswick], surely it is a major part of his job to motivate players. To use the excuse of “How do you motivate a team of millionaires” [as noted by Eric Paylor in today’s Gazette], is simply an apology for backroom inadequacies.
    To talk about motivating “millionairesâ€? is to focus on only one aspect of motivation i.e. money. There are however many other aspects to motivation such as pride, self esteem, personal development/improvement, praise, fear, punishment, knowledge, goal achievement, etc. Most of which are understood by managers/coaches throughout sport and business, surely therefore a top sports psychologist would have a thorough understanding of them.
    If it really was impossible to motivate a millionaire, then why do so many millionaires carry on working and try to become even more successful and wealthy, and why is it that some managers such as Sam Allardyce and Stuart Pearce, don’t seem to have much of a problem with motivation.

  2. I agree with Hutch and it is one of the main issues I have with the current Boro set up. Modern Pro footballers in the Prem now expect all the technically advanced and scientific stuff.#
    So what makes the difference? In my view 2 things:-
    First – Having the tools/facilities and being able to exploit them successfully are separate things. It seems to me that we have the training complex and the panoply of backroom staff but we think that having them is enough rather than doing something with them.
    Contrast that with Bolton yesterday evening talking about having moved from injury treatment to injury prevention, for example – now couldn’t we do with that!
    All work gets to be routine too and has to be refreshed to keep people engaged – are we doing that or is it the same old same old all the time. The right manager and backroom staff would know this and do something about it.
    Secondly, our sports psychologist would tell you (though when I hear his best advice is ‘count to 10’ I doubt his credentials) that all the research shows what motivates people is their own way of being and other people they are close to – not things.
    A psychologist called Seligman says that what makes the difference for individuals is whether, at their core, they have ‘Yes’ in their heart rather than ‘No’. I would guess that most pro sportspeople have ‘Yes’ as the default option anyway but some have it in greater degree.
    That means they need to be managed by people with ‘Yes’ too and be part of teams where this can be re-inforced and where the whole then becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
    When I see Mr. McClaren or his staff do I see people with ‘Yes’? Do they motivate me as a fan? (I can see how Pearce and Allardyce and Mourinho etc do, Hutch, and Steve Gibson for that matter) For me, the answer is no. They impress me in quite a different way. So if the research is right why should they be any different with players?
    I suspect our manager and staff are just as baffled as anyone as to why we are as we are and clueless as to how to change it. Until things are changed we have only spectacular blips in amongst general dross to look forward to and if we survive this yaer it will only be because there are 3 worse teams in the Prem than us.

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