Alan Pardew: We must copy Klinsmann and feed off negative energy

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Football management is all about positive and negative psychology. And we have had some prime examples of that in this World Cup. It's something that may, just, prove to be a benefit for England.

Take Germany. In football we always criticise the media for putting us through the mill. The Germans have had that and more in the build-up to this tournament. They were told they weren't good enough, they were going to embarrass themselves as hosts. That they were a shambles.

But they have got going. The spirit, the confidence is high. The negativity has made them stronger. The criticism has worked in their favour. They have fed off it, the fans have fed off it - and we all know about the support which a home nation can receive from the way England started to believe in Euro 96. It's an incredibly powerful weapon.

With that self-belief, Germany are now favourites to win the World Cup along with Brazil and Argentina. It means their meeting with the latter in Berlin on Friday is the key game of the tournament. Whoever comes through that will have an enhanced belief that they will go all the way.

For Germany, Jürgen Klinsmann (right) has been vital. He's got something that few managers have. He doesn't know failure. Every other manager, even Luiz Felipe Scolari, does. It has to happen at some point but this is Klinsmann's first job. He was an outstanding player and he has that core belief. That complete belief. Klinsmann acts like a player, he celebrates goals like he's still a player. He's smiling, he's happy and transmits that.

This managers' world isn't easy and the true test of a coach is how you deal with adversity. That's when we'll know how good Klinsmann is. You have to ride it. Maybe his lack of experience will eventually undo him in this tournament. Maybe when it comes to a crucial substitution or tactical change he will get it wrong. But what he has is carrying him a long way. He's turned all the negative thoughts around and the feelgood factor is all the stronger for that. Added to that, they have, in fairness, proven to be a surprisingly good unit. Miroslav Klose, although not well-known in England, is the German Footballer of the Year. And he's playing like that.

Contrast Klinsmann with Bruce Arena, the United States coach. They were hampered by him and by the way he appeared and behaved on the touchline. His body language, his demeanour just said "Oh no, not us again" every time a decision went against them. It reflected on the team. How you are, how you appear, is something I'm always aware of as a manager. You have to remain positive. Bruce didn't and it had an effect.

There were two great examples over the weekend. On Saturday I was struck by the way the Argentinian players, great players, went into a huddle ahead of extra time against Mexico and listened intently to their coach, Jose Pekerman. They wanted his guidance. He's worked with them since the under-21s and has played a vital role in how they have evolved as players. There is clearly a great deal of love for him.

Then, on Sunday, there was Portugal against the Netherlands and all kinds of shenanigans were kicking off. It was chaotic and a situation where a good manager comes into his own. Not that Marco van Basten, whose background is similar to Klinsmann's of course, did anything wrong. It's just that maybe a little bit of inexperience showed. Scolari had the right mix of being passionate for his cause, fighting for his team - but also staying in control of himself and the situation. It was all positive psychology. With nine men he had not just got a win but also a clean sheet.

Now they face England. Sven Goran Eriksson (below) has his own way. When it works, that under-stated coolness can be reassuring. But there's something bigger that England can benefit from. No one is giving them any credit whatsoever. Michael Owen has suffered a horrific injury. They are not playing well. It's all negative. But they are through to the last eight. It's clear we're not going to win the World Cup aesthetically. But, maybe, the negativity is bringing the players together, developing a stronger mentality, doing what Germany have done.

Strangely enough, Brazil are in the same situation. They're not playing their best football. Psychologically, it looks like the team are protecting Ronaldo, who had some fierce criticism. I maintain he's never going to touch the heights again. He may have to settle for just being a great finisher. And that's not bad.

England have a chance. I believe we will beat Portugal. Deco will be missing and they are not the same team without him. We will remain hard to beat and it could go to penalties. Hopefully, this time they will fall in our favour. We can succeed. But maybe we need to learn a little from the Germans and how they have fed off that negativity.

Alan Pardew is writing for The Independent throughout the World Cup. The fee for his column is donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Comments