Tag Archive for 'Napoli'

The anarchic style of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

The whole world is talking about Khvicha Kvaratskhelia from the New York Times to his coach Luciano Spalletti to Del Piero and Arrigo Sacchi. He is a young Georgian soccer player who is described in the NY Times article as follows, “His anarchic style has taken Italian soccer by storm, turning Napoli into a title contender. More important, he has made soccer fun again.”

This is something very different from the classic player that is theorized by soccer schools in which other factors prevail and certainly not anarchic style and fun. There are certainly other soccer players who are technically more gifted, but he is better. Thus we return to the accustomed reasoning, you need technique and quickness but it is instinct and unpredictability that make a player great. In this can be summed up the importance of a style defined as anarchic. It does not correspond to doing what is on one’s mind at that moment or acting without thinking as an impulsive soccer player would. Kvaratskhelia, on the contrary, puts his instincts at the service of technique. Basically, he understands before others what needs to be done and does it by making use of his qualities.

Playing with this high level of intensity and mental participation is exciting and rewarding, especially because the results prove him right and thus this increases his personal conviction to continue in this way. In this way he has built a virtuous circle in which speed and technique serve his equally fast decision-making ability, and this allows him “not to worry if something doesn’t work. He doesn’t think about the negative consequences. This is true for many attacking players. They are bold. They are bold. They are a little bit anarchic,” as explained by Andrés Carrasco, Spanish youth development manager at Dinamo Tbilisi, the club that discovered Kvaratskhelia.

The different mindset between Napoli e Juve

Knowing the mentality of a collective allows one to predict how a team will react when faced with emotionally intense situations. In this soccer league, Napoli and Juventus represent the two extremes of a continuum in which success and team cohesion are opposed to failure and lack of cohesion. Those who want to understand the reasons for these differences between the teams should analyze the following factors:

  • Organizational quality of the football Club - The organizational system consists of the set of organizational strategies and structures, decision-making system, planning and control system, leadership style, culture, climate and values. The better the efficiency and effectiveness of the organizational quality, the better the ability of the team and coach to play with a winning mentality.
  • The quality of the image of the football club - This refers to the satisfaction of the membership and identification needs of the team and its stakeholders. This dimension is mainly concerned with, the authority of the corporate leadership, its credibility, the personality and professional competence of its key figures, and the results and prestige gained over time.
  • Team goals - This refers to the goals of the current season (winning the championship, ranking among the top four, staying in Serie A) are result goals. Then there are also performance goals (achieving a certain individual and collective performance standard) and process goals (centered on improving individual technical-tactical, psychological and physical skills). It also concerns the development of a team mentality that is able to give itself new goals on the field in relation to the different phases of play in a game. It involves knowing how to use the positive moments of a match to one’s advantage, as well as requiring the presence of a pre-ordained plan for dealing with the negative phases of the game or phases of increased competitive tension.
  • The technical-tactical quality of the team - This refers to the stock of football skills and their integration into team play, which determines much more than simply the sum of the qualities of individual players. The greater the team’s technical-tactical competence combined with an optimal degree of physical preparation, the greater the likelihood that the team will be able to cope with the different, even emotional phases of the game.
  • Collective effectiveness - It is expressed through performances that are superior to those that each could provide individually. Technical-tactical quality is part of collective effectiveness; cohesion and conviction refer to its relational and cognitive-social aspects. So the question that needs to be asked is, “How should players interact on the field for the purpose of showing unity and confidence in their skills as a team?” Napoleon was accustomed to say that he also won his battles with the dreams of his soldiers; this phrase is an effective metaphor for what should be meant by collective effectiveness.
  • Players’ motivational orientation - Players and the team as a whole must manifest a growth-oriented mindset. An example of the application of this concept to soccer may involve the purchase of a soccer player. Generally this is done on the basis of technical and tactical background; thus, it is believed that a player who performs well on one team will manifest the same effectiveness on another. In many cases, this phenomenon has not been repeated, and this can probably be attributed to this static conception of mentality, which does not take into account the different conditions between one club and another and how these affect the players’ adaptation and consequently the quality of their performance.

The new Napoli winning mindset

Great game that of Napoli at home to Ajax ended with the score of 6-1. These matches against worthy opponents are won in this overflowing way when a team is not only satisfied with playing well. They are a demonstration of what should be meant by a winning mentality. When the determination of the team is welded with the quality of play and the desire of individual players to want to continue playing at their best until the referee’s final whistle.

The conjunction of these three aspects has a multiplier effect that is far more beneficial than the sum of individual wills. This Napoli new mentality is geared toward personal and team growth, and matches represent challenges generating strategies for improvement that culminate in playing consistently at a high level. In fact, it was these Champions matches played against Liverpool and Ajax that taught the team what its potential was that had hitherto been unexpressed. Matches like these are remembered for a lifetime and, more importantly, they keep motivation and confidence high, so any subsequent high-stress competitive situation will be approached with the belief that they can repeat what was done in these Champions League matches.

It is often stated that in order to win these matches Italian teams should increase the speed of their play and maintain this approach for the entire duration of the match. Napoli’s matches teach us that this characteristic, however, always goes to motivation (I want to do it) and conviction (I do it). In this way you realize what I have often heard Gianni Rivera say, that in soccer you should not run but make the ball run. So speed of play only happens when mind, technique, tactics and team work together for 90 minutes.

Napoli: performance anxiety?

There is talk, in these days, of the performance anxiety that would have hindered Napoli at least in the last two games, important to remain among the favorites for the final title. Attributing the negative results of a team to this psychological dimension has been very successful among the media. It means feeling insecure in the decisive moments of the championship, with the effect of providing unsatisfactory performances. It is a reasoning that labels a team and expresses a collective psychological condition that is invalidating. Were I a coach, I would reject this explanation by asking myself, “How should players interact on the field in order to show unity and confidence in their team skills?” I would also ask myself, “How can I stimulate performance that is superior to what each could provide individually?” Napoleon used to say that he also won his battles with the dreams of his soldiers, this phrase is an effective metaphor for what should be meant by team effectiveness. In this way, we are no longer talking about anxiety but about collective effectiveness and how to train it. The theme consists of understanding what behavioral approach is necessary to achieve victory, providing each player with precise and different tasks, so that when someone makes a mistake the others know what to do. Each player needs to know and be a part of the story that the team is building as the minutes go by, and this task orientation needs to be trained specifically throughout the weeks. However, it is not just a technical/tactical issue, it requires each player to perceive himself as an active part of a program that goes beyond his person and is about the success of the team. By developing this collective mentality, it will be possible to come out effectively from situations of greater competitive pressure, without falling into the victimhood inherent in the explanation that attributes failures to anxiety, a manifestation of a character limit that requires a long time to change, while the league, moving on weekly appointments, requires a great willingness to change. Therefore, the question is not so much whether players are anxious, but how willing they are to quickly change ineffective behavior.

Juan Jesus is the new Napoli leader

A team needs leaders on the field, but if the only leader is the coach, it cannot become a winning team. It is therefore possible that Juan Jesus‘ post-match declarations, which make him more and more of a leader, are an expression of this process of change, not only his own but also that of Napoli.

The team is fighting to win the Scudetto and Spalletti‘s words confirm the need to have leaders on the pitch: “We have to look our opponents in the eye, the players have understood and perceived this, they are all there determined to play the next game… something has changed in terms of attitude, we have realized that we have to do what we are good at. In the moment of difficulty you suffer, you adapt, then you pick up what is your conviction, what is your quality.” Juan Jesus responded to this request.

The change has been stimulated and favored by the stakes but finds its foundation in the passion that fuels the desire to win. Assuming responsibility requires courage to face problems; it doesn’t mean never making mistakes, but knowing how to get right back up. This is a crucial step found in every culture. If a North-American says that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall but how quickly you get back up, a Chinese says it in other words: “Fall 7 times, get up 8″. That’s the meaning of the footballer’s words when he said, “Good at fighting back, now we have to play our game!”. It doesn’t matter if you are an immovable starter or if you enter the game in progress, this is the indispensable mentality that holds together the team that struggles to achieve important results.

Emotions and thought: The mental game of Napoli-Inter

Matches are often dominated by the emotions experienced by the two teams and the next championship match between Napoli and Inter will certainly be among them. Inter will field its anger generated by the defeat against Milan while Napoli will field its enthusiasm produced by a series of very positive results. The winner will be the one who will be able to better interpret these moods by putting them at the service of the team’s thinking. What are the risks? When anger is not managed, it doesn’t turn into determination, but expresses itself in impulsive actions in which one moves without thinking, like an engine out of revs that expresses its power in an uncontrolled way with the risk of going off the road. Enthusiasm is a feeling that is experienced with pleasure and supports the optimism needed to face these challenges. The risk is to face the game in a superficial way, to show an excessive self-confidence, thus reducing the ability to respond to situations of competitive tension and pressure exerted by the opponent. On Saturday, emotions will be on the field and also on the bench, and they will participate in determining the final result. In order to express their game, teams will have to make use of these states of mind, which will have to be kept under the control of thought, since the latter capacity can integrate in a few tenths of a second the energy generated by emotions and the decision on how to play. So, emotions and thought are the two key words to interpret what will be seen on the pitch.

Sarri’s explanations do not convince after the defeat against Napoli

Maurizio Sarri, Juventus coach, after the defeat against Napoli, commented:

“We played a bland game from a mental point of view and therefore the offensive phase was also affected. It was a game with low mental energy and bland defensively as well. We lost rightly because we played a bad game; it took us a lot of our time”.

  • Humility, sweat and sacrifice have always been the hallmarks of Juventus, which from Trapattoni to Lippi to Allegri has always had coaches who have taken this attitude very seriously. The fact that now in this year it often had mental breaks, it seems to me to be a wake-up call, which it goes beyond the objective fact of continuing to lead the championship and which should be taken more into consideration by Sarri.

“When the situation is what we showed tonight, it’s difficult to change a something or a single player. Mentally the team had little energy. In the final I saw that some players weren’t playing well and we tried with Douglas”.

  • Showing little energy in matches that are important for the opponent’s skills and to gain an additional advantage over the opponents should be enough to motivate Juventus. The role of the key players should be a determining factor in supporting a proactive approach to the match, but it seems that this has not happened. And perhaps Sarri is more focused on getting the game he likes rather than stimulating a tough and convincing approach on the pitch. I would say that these characteristics come before any form of tactics. In other words, ideas without the heart are worth little.

“It’s not a trend. These are games where you have to comment little with the players. You have to find great motivation, which is not easy for those who have won so much. These games can help us do that. The difficulty is to maintain the right level of mentality for long periods of time”.

  • A bit weak answer, for a coach who wants to be a winner, to say that this approach “is not a trend”. The question is that from these professionals should be expected another quality in the conduct of the game. Intensity, speed and precision are three factors that a team that wants to compete with the big team in European football should always show. I advise Sarri, instead, to talk to the players to find out how to get out of these negative moments, which with Napoli have affected the whole match but they have already appeared for less time in many others.
  • This approach explains why it is not enough for a coach to be just a good coach but must also be a leader, who teaches the team to compete to win; to enter the field with the willingness to fight to impose his mentality on his opponents.

Never, ever cede control

You can’t ever lose control—not when you are dealing with 30 top professionals who are all millionaires,” Ferguson told us. “And if any players want to take me on, to challenge my authority and control, I deal with them.” An important part of maintaining high standards across the board was Ferguson’s willingness to respond forcefully when players violated those standards. If they got into trouble, they were fined. And if they stepped out of line in a way that could undermine the team’s performance, Ferguson let them go. In 2005, when longtime captain Roy Keane publicly criticized his teammates, his contract was terminated. The following year, when United’s leading scorer at the time, Ruud van Nistelrooy, became openly disgruntled over several benchings, he was promptly sold to Real Madrid.

Responding forcefully is only part of the story here. Responding quickly, before situations get out of hand, may be equally important to maintaining control.

Ferguson: If the day came that the manager of Manchester United was controlled by the players—in other words, if the players decided how the training should be, what days they should have off, what the discipline should be, and what the tactics should be—then Manchester United would not be the Manchester United we know. Before I came to United, I told myself I wasn’t going to allow anyone to be stronger than I was. Your personality has to be bigger than theirs. That is vital.

There are occasions when you have to ask yourself whether certain players are affecting the dressing-room atmosphere, the performance of the team, and your control of the players and staff. If they are, you have to cut the cord. There is absolutely no other way. It doesn’t matter if the person is the best player in the world. The long-term view of the club is more important than any individual, and the manager has to be the most important one in the club.

Some English clubs have changed managers so many times that it creates power for the players in the dressing room. That is very dangerous. If the coach has no control, he will not last. You have to achieve a position of comprehensive control. Players must recognize that as the manager, you have the status to control events. You can complicate your life in many ways by asking, “Oh, I wonder if the players like me?” If I did my job well, the players would respect me, and that’s all you need.

I tended to act quickly when I saw a player become a negative influence. Some might say I acted impulsively, but I think it was critical that I made up my mind quickly. Why should I have gone to bed with doubts? I would wake up the next day and take the necessary steps to maintain discipline. It’s important to have confidence in yourself to make a decision and to move on once you have. It’s not about looking for adversity or for opportunities to prove power; it’s about having control and being authoritative when issues do arise.”

Sarri and Ancelotti stress management

Sarri problems in the management of  Ronaldo and those of Ancelotti with his team and his president highlight how it’s difficult in these moments to remain optimistic, satisfied and determined rather than pessimistic, dissatisfied and distressed. The question is: how to maintain this attitude during the evolution of the crisis situation.

This stress does not come so much from the results but refers to the stress of managing the players, from misunderstandings arising during the work and from having to negotiate with their players.

We know that what differentiates a coach who manages these experiences from another who, on the contrary, is chocked by them, it is in the way of dealing with situations perceived as stressful.

One question to answer is: “How can I show myself convinced that we will be able to get out of this crisis or that my choices are the right ones?” In football, if we don’t believe we have everything we need to be able to achieve our goals, it’s almost certain that we won’t achieve it. It’s like saying to our opponents: “Today we’ll give you some of our confidence to win, we’d rather remain insecure. So the lesson is as follows: accept the challenge and play with the confidence we can do it till the final whistle. Players are taught to chase even the balls that are impossible to catch, the same for the coach because we must never leave the idea that nothing is impossible.lite sarri ronaldo juventus milanRisultati immagini per Ancelotti insigne lite

Carlo Ancelotti talks about football and team mind

Interesting interview at Carlo Ancelotti on ilnapolista, read it.

Here some ideas:

Pochi minuti di conversazione e siamo già a mai fuorigioco e a un elogio dell’Atletico Madrid. Allora, in riferimento al match di Champions con la Juventus, gli riferiamo dell’ardore di Fabio Capello nell’opporsi all’equivalenza Simeone-brutto calcio.

«L’Atletico Madrid non gioca male, ti fa giocar male. Non ti fa giocare come tu vorresti. Per tanti motivi. Innanzitutto perché sono molto ben organizzati. Ma anche per la loro struttura psicologica. Sono molto aggressivi in tutte le situazioni. Anche con l’arbitro. Nel tempo, sono  migliorati. Adesso giocano più a calcio, anche se giocano un calcio che possiamo definire diverso dalla normalità. Cercano molto la sostanza e poco l’estetica.

A lei piace?

«Sì – la risposta è secca -, è un calcio che mi piace».

A questo punto insistiamo: le piacerebbe che il suo Napoli giocasse come l’Atletico Madrid?

«Io credo che alla fine la qualità del gioco paga sempre, però la qualità del gioco deve essere supportata da tanti altri valori altrettanto importanti che sono la determinazione, la cattiveria in certe circostanze, la personalità, la responsabilità che uno si deve prendere. Quella che voi a Napoli chiamate cazzimma. Mi piacerebbe un Napoli così».