SHEFFIELD UNITED: The idea that wind-ups work is all in your head

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STUFF, rubbish and nonsense.

No, not just claims that Sheffield United are a ‘one-man team’ - an assertion which says more about the grasp of English those peddling this bizarre theory possess than it does the dynamics of Danny Wilson’s squad.

But also the idea that ‘mind games’ will exert even the slightest influence over the race for automatic promotion from League One.

Or even the battle for survival at the opposite end of the table for that matter.

United, who are presently in the box seat to claim, barring Charlton Athletic doing a ‘Devon Loch’, the runners-up spot behind Chris Powell’s side, have spent the past fortnight being subjected to thinly-disguised ‘digs’ from some of their rivals.

An inevitable consequence given the ridiculous fascination some fellow members of my profession have with the idea that a member or members of one club can affect the mood in the dressing room of another.

Yes, it makes for great copy. But, in the grand scheme of things, it counts for nothing.

The best example, those who subscribe to this fantastical supposition argue, is when the then Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan, blew his top live on television in response to Sir Alex Ferguson’s suggestion (which, privately, even he won’t have believed), that the rest of the division were conspiring to ensure the 1996 Premier League title would be destined for St James’ Park rather than Old Trafford.

It wasn’t, of course.

But the Toon Army’s dramatic surrender didn’t have anything to do with their gaffer’s very public and very hilarious meltdown.

Why? Because I’d be prepared to wager a year’s worth of brown ale what Keegan’s players did when they watched him implode in front of the cameras.

They’ll have laughed their black and white socks off. Loved it. Bloody loved it in fact.

Fergie is many things. But disciple of BF Skinner and expert in radical behaviourism he ain’t.

Wilson, the United manager, has so far refused to step into the cringeworthy world of homespun pseudo psychology.

He is right not to do so.

I’m willing to accept that coaching staff can alter the mindset of people they come into contact with on a daily basis. That’s science.

But not those they’ve never met. That’s Uri Gellar stuff.

The trouble with, what might as well be dubbed, ‘The Fergie Principle’ is that it’s telegraphed.

A bit like believing a boxer would receive notice from their opponent that they’re going to throw a certain punch at a precise moment of a given round and then walk right onto the end of it.

Everyone knows what it going on.

If United fail to go up this season, it will be because, for one reason or another, they just weren’t quite good enough.

Not because of some pantomime jousting on the back pages.