World Cup 2014: ‘The mind doctor will see you now’

Roy Hodgson hopes psychiatrist Peters will  help him and his staff as much as the players

It is widely assumed that Roy Hodgson has asked Dr Steven Peters, sport’s most in-vogue psychiatrist, to join his World Cup campaign to help England overcome their fear of the penalty. England’s manager, however, believes Peters could be just as useful helping him, and his staff, deal with the pressures in Brazil.

“I’ve always thought people like Steve Peters, who are close to teams, can do as much of a job with the coaching team as the players,” Hodgson said. “We have a big influence on the players. If they can help us get the right mindset to say the right thing at the right time, take the pressure off whenever we can, put the pressure on when it’s necessary – that in itself would be beneficial.”

Peters, whose work is regarded as a key factor in the huge success of the Team GB cycling team, and influential in the improved form of Liverpool, will join England when they go to Portugal for a training camp tomorrow week, and remain with the squad until their World Cup is over.

“There’s no pressure on him whatsoever,” said Hodgson. “I don’t expect anything from him other than to be there, to look and to observe, let me know anything he sees that can help me do my job better, and be available for the players.

“I don’t intend to say to the players, ‘This is Steve Peters, you must go to see him’. They will go to him if they want to go to him. I’m sure the Liverpool players will tell the others how they interact with him and what he does for them. I’m sure as a result a few of the other players will come up and say, ‘I’d like him to have a chat with me too’.”

 

It is almost inevitable that, come the knock-out rounds, players who do talk to Peters will talk about penalty shoot-outs. As Hodgson said: “I would think psychologically the obsession we have with penalty shoot-outs can only be negative in terms of succeeding in the next one.”

To that end Hodgson is in a Catch-22 situation. He does not want to make a fuss about penalties – he has even said the subject bored him - but knows the possibility must be addressed.

“I’m not a psychologist,” he said, “ but I think if you go around all day worrying about a particular problem in life there’s a much greater chance that problem will become greater than if you are able to put that problem out of your mind.

“We will prepare as best we can – choose the best penalty- takers we have, practise, and make it clear that it’s important you do all the things every other penalty-taker will be told: trust in yourself, trust in your ability, choose your spot, make sure you know what you want to do, and execute it.

“We will do all of those things. Whether we do it well enough when the time comes, we’ll have to wait and see.

“We will practise, but you cannot duplicate the circumstances: the fact you have played 120 minutes and are very tired, there are 40,000 or 50,000 people in the stadium, and you can see the headlines the next day. You know there at 25 million at home watching you.

“You can take penalties until the cows come home in training. At Euro 2012 we did competitions quite regularly, we had players who literally scored every single penalty they took. Two of those players missed [in the quarter-final shoot-out] against Italy.

“If we win or lose on penalties it won’t be because Steve Peters has joined us. But there may be a penalty-taker who has spent a bit of time with him who takes a better penalty. If so, that’s terrific and I’ll be more than delighted. But it’s not his responsibility at all.”

England do have a quartet of very successful penalty-takers this season. Between them Steven Gerrard (11-1), Rickie Lambert (3-0), Leighton Baines (4-0) and Wayne Rooney (3-0) have taken 22 penalties this season, missing once, when Gerrard hit the post at Old Trafford. Plus Frank Lampard has one from three this season, but is an experienced spot-kick expert. But what odds they would all be on the pitch when it mattered?

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