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Wrong calls are no excuse to lose it

Last week, I was here in Dubai watching on television England's 39th-minute World Cup equaliser that never was

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Last week, I was here in Dubai watching on television England's 39th-minute World Cup equaliser that never was. Frank Lampard may take some consolation that he is now the star of a thousand internet postings, but it's not the fame he wanted.

There was plenty of time for England to deliver a furious retaliation in the second half of the game against Germany, but they never did. Instead of managing the stress, they lost heart, apparently mesmerised by that wrong call.

Naturally we were all looking for someone to blame for the team's unexplained failure to fight back in the last 45 minutes.

Some insisted it must have been England's manager, perhaps the wrong man for the job, simply failing in his duty to inspire and motivate and proving unable to ‘ginger up' the squad and get them in the right physical condition? Or was it just one of those ‘off days', which we often feel we can do nothing about?

My own feeling — perhaps intuition — as a close spectator, is that it was a serious failure of team spirit. To me they did not seem to be pulling together as a cohesive team. No doubt these were talented individuals, but they didn't blend-in as a group, and they did not look as though they were following any firm tactical plan.

Corporate parallels

There is no doubt that it was a stunning misjudgement by the referee. Did this cause some kind of shock reaction, leading to that odd paralysis of willpower that we observed on the pitch?

Well, corporate business is not unlike the sporting world. And as a stress counselling expert, I have had to pick up the emotional pieces after what many managers have angrily declared to be a ‘wrong call' in their own organisations.

At those times, I try to encourage a sense of proportion — to remind them that we all know what it's like to face the humiliation and frustration of the ‘wrong call', and that it's no different from many other kinds of obstacles that need to be overcome. I have found that most experienced executives have had to deal with quite a few ‘wrong calls' in the course of their careers, thereby strengthening their character for future challenges.

As always, it's not a question of how much pressure is piled on you, but how well you can handle it. Stress is the pressure that you've been unable to handle, so it builds up into a harmful condition. International football, by its nature, sets up pressures greater than most of us know. Maybe England's team just needs a little training in managing the extreme tensions and anxieties that afflict their exclusive profession.

Now tell us your own anecdotes about ‘wrong calls' in your career. Did you let them get you down? Or did you fight back — unlike the England team? Leave your comment at

Hard done? sulking is pointless

  • England's defeat in the World Cup illustrates the phenomena of the ‘wrong call'.
  • Similar situations are often experienced by business managers.
  • Unfairness is just another pressure that you need to overcome.


Latest Comment

I flatly disagree that the non-awarded goal should have have made no difference. A 2-2 draw at half time would have changed the entire mood of both the England and Germany camps, and would have forced Germany on the defensive.Prior to the World Cup there had been the biggest of arguments about something called Goal Line technology, which all the clubs had asked for, because of the psychological damage to players who have perfectly good goals disallowed. There has been a long history of this, with two notorious incidents in the UK earlier this year, and there has been a strong standoff between FIFA and all the clubs throughout the world.As a direct result of Frank Lampard's unseen goal, FIFA have been forced to concede they will have to put it in.Going back to team spirit, prior to the World Cup, the England team had played more games in the last 12 months than any other team, had been asked to play games just prior to the World Cup that no other team was required, and did not get a break between finishing punishing football schedules and the games compared to other teams.The responsibility for this state of affairs lies with the English FA and the English Clubs. This is why Fabio Capello has been kept on. It was not possible to build either a winning team spirit or score goals with a worn out team and the absence of hugely important technology used in every other sport in the world.There's a big difference between wrong calls made inside a team in ongoing business , and one inflicted from outside in a once in a lifetime event for about half the players on the England team.

Chris Clark

6 July 2010 11:37jump to comments