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.