What is a winning attitude?

Posted on September 8th, 2011 | 22 Comments |

Pedro takes the positives from our 4-3 defeat to Sunderland.
Positives? I think not.
Newcastle United reserves lost 4-3 to Sunderland earlier in the week but some comments by Peter Beardsley got me thinking about team attitudes and how they might affect results.

Yesterday I was visited by a bunch of Bible-bashers called Seventh Day Adventists and their big beef with things – amongst all the problems the world faces – is that they think the Sabbath should be on a Saturday. I argued the advantages of making it a Wednesday to break the week up, but they soon realised I wasn’t being altogether serious and left before I had to release the caged tiger I keep for just such callers.

This reminded me of a Christian I used to know and one thing that really annoyed me about him was his eternal optimism. Our job at the time was to write software for satellites and even when two years of software work – and many more years than that of hardware work – exploded on the launching pad, he simply said “never mind, I’m sure it will all turn out okay”. He came to work happy, was happy throughout the day and went home extremely happy. And this made me very grumpy indeed.

Which brings me, in a round about way, to our reserve team’s 4-3 defeat against Sunderland earlier in the week about which Pedro said:

There were plusses from the performance – there always is.

There weren’t any though. We lost.

I can remember seeing a feature about Australian Cricket Captain Allan Border and one of the things he told his team was that he didn’t want to hear anything about ‘positives’ or ‘playing a good game’ if they lost. He said that when they lose they must be depressed and if they weren’t he’d soon make them depressed. Apparently he’d come in to bat with someone who’d been batting for about 96 hours in 40 degree heat with a leg injury and this batsman said to Border “skip, I don’t think I can go on” to which Border replied “okay, **** off and send the next batsman in – I believe he’s a real man”. The batsman stayed on the pitch.

Now that’s the winning attitude. Border built the basics of the team that went on to completely dominate world cricket.

Here’s the rest of what Pedro said:

I don’t know if it was a great game, and the wind spoiled it a bit, but overall we are pleased that James Perch and Danny Guthrie have got through the game, and quite often in a friendly that is the main purpose.

So there are positives, but as always you are disappointed when you lose to Sunderland. It doesn’t matter what we say as coaches – when you get out there you want to win, especially against Sunderland.

That’s good though as you want your players to be up for it, and it was a good game in that sense. To get a draw would have been nice, but overall I think Sunderland were probably the better team, but I think that 4-3 was a fair reflection. If it was 4-1 that would have been harsh.

But what this whole thing got me thinking about was what makes a winning team. Sure, sometimes there’s such a gulf in skill between two teams that – bar being hit by an awful lot of particles of luck – there really can only be one winner.

Beyond that, though, they often say a home crowd can be the twelfth man and I reckon the right attitude can be the thirteenth man. It was something we developed during our Championship promotion season when they told anyone who didn’t want to be there to leave the club.

I’d like to see Alan Pardew become to Newcastle was Allan Border was to Australia and develop the attitude that losing is just unacceptable. Let’s feel rotten about losing and take no positives whatsoever from it. Equally, of course, we crow at length about wins.

Anyway, that’s my grumpy rant for the day. Have a good one and I’ll leave you with the question: What is a winning attitude and how do we develop it? (and am I being too extreme by saying we should take no positives from losing?)

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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22 Responses

  1. good article though…
    a winning mentality meaning is losing is not acceptable…no matter how good they play…

    wonder why there is no comment here?

    doubt if all of u are not ready for heavy conversation like this?

  2. in the case of peter beardsley,for a long time now it has been,”sniff the glove peter”,he comes across as brainwashed.

  3. Can’t ever remember my boss saying “oh well, as long as you tried. AIX Servers are very difficult to configure sometimes, maybe it’ll turn out ok” Failure should be that which motivates us primarily to do well, the problem this country has at present is partially that doing nothing, or doing something but badly, is seen as ok and that those of that ilk are rewarded in the media, social security system, schools and god knows where else, mediocrity is an ambition it seems.

  4. I think it was Border who when told his fast bowler was injured replied – Good, it will give someone else a chance! The bowler recovered.
    Its the man-management technique of pressure.
    Shankley had it as well – when it was thought a key player had been injured and would miss a game he said “no one gets injured at this club, if he’s not picked its because someone else is better” – result = he played!

  5. Of course if you have a small squad there is little pressure – you expect to play. Excuses for poor performance or defeat are routine.
    At NUFC we have pressure at Goal Keeper and midfield only. Loose your place and you must fight to get it back.
    No pressure at all in defence (if you are fit you play) or attack.
    Not rocket science really, is it?

  6. I reckon the positives are often just churned out for the cameras and microphones. In the dressing room I’ll bet there all feeling pretty sh!t off the back of a right bo!!oking.

    It’d be funny but Pards is unlikely to come out after a loss and say ‘to be honest that was a crock of sh!te, beginning to end, what a bunch of over paid lackadaisical muppets’. Though I wish sometimes he would.

  7. PR/positive spin to the media rules now.

    Get used to it, but just don’t hang ya’ hat on it.

    But there again, if ya’ do, pffftttt!


  8. Mike Brearley was my favourite cricket captain Hugh. He certainly knacked Border and his mates in 1981, though I believe that Kim Hughes was the Australian captain at the time.

    Certainly not the greatest batsman ever, but what an inspirational psychologist.

  9. WT, yeah, Brearley was pretty good. Good enough in fact to keep his place largely on his abilities as captain – as you say, he wasn’t a brilliant batsman.

  10. Hugh de Payen says:
    September 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    “WT, yeah, Brearley was pretty good. Good enough in fact to keep his place largely on his abilities as captain – as you say, he wasn’t a brilliant batsman.”

    England repeated the Botham mistake some time later when they made Flintoff captain instead of Strauss. I could have told the daft gets at the time.

    Why don’t we turn this into a cricket ‘blog? :-)

  11. no cricket, come on. Thats why the England national team is so shite cos they are bigger than the team. Look at man united im sure if they lose ferguson would throw a boot at the players responsible.. losing is not an option!!

  12. richey says:
    September 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    “no cricket, come on. Thats why the England national team is so shite cos they are bigger than the team.”

    I see what you’re getting at richey, but I think it’s more complex than that. I think there are several factors, including one or two similarities with Newcastle United too.

  13. No matter how important it is to instill a winning mentality especially in young players, the most important thing to teach them is still to enjoy the game. Learn the basics first, enjoy keeping the ball, or trying to dribble with it. Winning can come later. THat’s basically how the continental teams train their youth. I think in England, too much emphasis is being put at winning at all costs, till the extent that the flair and skill is coached out of youngsters by the time they hit their teenage years. Playing football over here is so different to how I’m used to back home. The 2 things I’m most used to being shouted: “GET RID OF ITT!!!” and “GET BLOODY STUCK IN!!” Shame really..

  14. Jackripper says:
    September 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    “So long as you look to a certain way of playing, everybody can play. Get the ball, treat the ball well, let him be your friend.” – Johan Cruyff.

  15. “What is a winning attitude?”

    Beardo may well have known the answer to that as a player but as a leader of young men I’m afraid he hasnt a clue.

    Tactically naive coupled with zero man management skills and very little in the way of charisma – he’s just what the Fatman ordered :(

    Yesterday I aired my concerns about the staff within the development/academy groups and I’m pretty sure that if it had been up to CH, Beardo wouldnt have been put in charge of the reserves.

    Younger players look up to experienced pros it is true but pretty soon find out if there’s nothing to back it up. Shearer was another example of good player – bad manager.

    Ironically Roeder, one of the least talented managers of the first team at SJP in recent times, was a very good Academy leader and should have returned there after his stint in the hot seat but left because a Fatman, who knew nothing about football, made the wrong decisions at the wrong time.

    Maybe that should be NUFC’s epitaph ?

  16. One of my mates down here in the smoke did his ‘badges’ with Pedro. He said the opposite, knows his stuff & top bloke.
    There ya’ go, it takes all sorts…

  17. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    September 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    “One of my mates down here in the smoke did his ‘badges’ with Pedro.”

    Clint, I have a coaching friend who did his with Hughton. He said exactly the same thing about him. Excellent memory for names apparently, made everyone feel “special” and willing to give that bit extra.

  18. worky,
    i woulda loved CH to have had longer to prove his worth for us.
    I loved the guys attitude & general philosophical approach, not to mention his excellent way of dealing with the press.
    Oh! I mentioned it.

  19. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    September 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    i woulda loved CH to have had longer to prove his worth for us.”

    He’s been absolutely knacked at Birmingham Clint. Almost the whole of their first team squad have been spirited away and he’s had to play in Europe as well. If he pulls anyhting off there then he’s definitely a miracle worker.

    There is a new post up BTW.

  20. worky,
    aye i noticed to new post & just read it.

    That’s exactly what i was thinking about CH too.
    Hope he can pull something together for Brum like, just to prove to a few what some of us always thought/knew about the lad.
    His task is monumental like.