Psychology offers colourful cure for football manager's blues: Rhys Williams explains how Taylor's England lost the warrior spirit

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The Independent Online
ONE OR two of you may have the impression that England's failure to qualify for the World Cup was down to: a) Gascoigne's weight problem; b) the manager, Graham Taylor; c) the team's general inability to string together more than two passes. Wrong.

Research by the Football Association's official magazine, FC, released today, suggests it is all to do with paint of the wrong colour on the dressing-room walls.

According to Mary Spillane, a colour consultant: 'The colour of the environment has a definite effect on emotions, pulse rate and behaviour.'

Until recently, both dressing rooms at Wembley Stadium had huge red Samurai warriors, swords drawn for battle, splashed on the walls. But in what will now be seen as Taylor's most disastrous decision, he had the warriors in the England room replaced by an FA crest. Which means that while the Norwegians and Dutch, who effectively pooped England's World Cup party at Wembley last year, were driven by the fighting spirit of the Samurai, our lads were inspired by a badge.

In fact, only one English club has given any serious thought to dressing-room aesthetics. Mike Bateson, chairman of third division Torquay United, heard from a supporter about an American football team that painted its home dressing room a bold, aggressive blue and the visiting side's pink to lull them into a soft, 'feminine' frame of mind. Torquay did the same last season, but succeeded only in narrowly avoiding relegation.

'Perhaps the original pink was too harsh,' Mr Bateson said, as he reflected on his club's impressive home results this season. 'Now that it has faded, it seems to be having the desired effect.'

After detailed expert consultation, we can now reveal, in full, the best colours for a home dressing room:

Orange - the colour of Buddhists, such as the World Player of the Year, the Italian Roberto Baggio. It unleashes uninhibited physical drive;

Yellow - said to engender intelligence and brightness as well as the urge to eat bananas;

Blue - matches Graham Taylor's language, but unlike him, it inspires creativity;

Red - forceful, powerful, aggressive, but can lead to a lack of control;

Green - calms anxiety, but can neutralise.

And the nominations in the best colours for the away dressing room category are:

Black - creates fear, a sense of overbearing authority and depression;

Brown - an earthy colour, it makes oppositions feel sluggish;

White - colour of fridges, neutral, stark, leaving players feeling isolated.

This brand of psychology seems to be spreading to Scotland. The part-time players at Alloa Athletic gathered around a boardroom table on Thursday night prepared to be convinced they could take on the mighty Rangers in the Scottish Cup fourth round today and win.

They sat in silence as Jack Black, a fast-talking motivational psychologist, regaled them with the powers of positive thought with the aid of a chart bearing words like 'oomph' and 'mindstore'. The Alloa manager, Billy Lamont, asked Mr Black to help convince his squad that they could avoid being annihilated.

(Photograph omitted)