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In the second part of this two-part series we discuss why it is important to recognise the spiritual side of football, and not just stare at statistics when selecting players for clubs. These topics form an important part of our coaching methods and philosophy at MnM Coaching.

Me, Myself, and I

Many players think they are the most important player in the team. The game is seen through their eyes only. “Why don’t they pass the ball to me? Why am I the defender? I have trained hard all season so why am I not in the starting XI?”

Claiming to be the most important player in the team does not mean it’s true, yet they and their ego think it is.

Handling the Pressure

Many long-time football coaches will definitely at one stage in their career be warned about selecting a specific player. “Do not select him. He’s a promising talent but he can’t handle the pressure.”

A player not capable of handling the pressure can mean different things but often it means that he doesn’t fit into the required role on the pitch.

He is not ready to start the match on the bench and he won’t admit to himself that he isn’t the most important player in the team. Therefor he isn’t ready to sacrifice his place for the sake of the team and start from the bottom. But what if he is just misunderstood?

The Misunderstood One

Rarely has he ever been misunderstood. From the club’s point of view, it’s about time and money. Why take a risk working with a player we’ve misunderstood and lose time and money? There is no time to heal the soul when the coach’s responsibility is to focus on the whole team.

Good players are always on offer but sometimes the eye is deceiving. Sometimes words, actions and body language tell more of the story. He, the misunderstood player, rebelled and the coach showed showed his power over the players.

It’s quite fashionable to follow the examples of other coaches. First the player is dropped from the national team, then from the club’s first team and finally the misunderstood player is given his marching orders.

Antoine Griezmann may not have all the features of a misunderstood player, but the fact is that he was not given a chance to prove himself in France. So, he went to Spain to join a midtable side to develop as a player and get playing time on the pitch. And now Griezmann is one of the best players in the world.

Teemu Pukki’s story is somewhat different. When abroad he was considered to be forver a promising talent but when bak in Finland he found his place in a team coached by the experienced Antti Muurinen. Now he is undeniably one of the best players in the Danish Super League and in Finland’s national team.

Pukki and Griezmann were both two misunderstood players. They are team players who dominate the roles of the substitutes. They care about the team’s success on the pitch. But how do you deal with players whose words, actions, and mind are all focused on themselves? “I am bigger than the team and the coach only represents at best a low-paid individual in a footballer’s world.”

Carlos Tevez is that type of player. He doesn’t care about anything other than himself. If you ask him who is the most important player, he will undoubtedly say "Tevez”. And the bigger his ego grows the better player he becomes.

Searching for a Pure Mind

Building a team is a complicated process. It’s not enough to pick the best players in each position to make the team’s chemistry work smoothly. There are endless choices but one change will create ten more.

One can think that many coaches can easily select the most skillful players into the team. That isn’t actually so difficult. Half an hour is enough time to know which player is quick, skillful, and strong.

The chemistry between players can’t be seen without experimentation but an experienced coach will discover that after a few friendlies.

A player’s lack of commitment to the team is often revealed too late after difficulties on or off the pitch. This will affect any form of communication between player and coach thereafter. Egos and self loving can be covered up with words and actions. We adults tend to believe in words and because of that one’s lack of commitment and ego is often revealed too late.