The Women’s World Cup ended and the Lionesses gave a great effort, but in the end came up a little short. In the aftermath, manager Phil Neville delivered an extremely mixed message on what to expect and what is needed.
“What it leaves us with is that we have another 15-20% to go. This is sport. We have to come back in four years and be better.”
“We gave it our best shot, we fell short and we just have to make sure next time we are better.”
“I’ve got to make sure when we come back in August that we lift the bar even more and that my performances are better because the players deserve better.”
Also Phil Neville:
“I can’t ask any more from the players. They know what they’ve got to do and I know what I’ve got to do.”
In summary, “We have to lift the bar and be better by 15-20%.” but… he can’t ask for more. That’s exactly what he’s doing, and it’s his job to do it. The whole interview was amazing until this point. We can’t be satisfied with being second. We must improve. We must be better. He was raised in an environment of high performance and always giving more. He can ask for more, and if England are to win in the future, he must, and he has to be clear in his message.
The important thing to remember is that Neville was a graduate from Alex Ferguson’s class of ’92. He should know that no matter what the level of performance has been, you can always ask for more. Pep Guardiola, if he stays at Man City long enough, may come close (or even surpass) the success of Fergie at Man United, and he also always looks at performance, and is always asking for more.
On the flip side, these managers give so much into their players, not just as part of the team, but as people. They give so much, and therefore can expect so much back. Although Ferguson is famous for his mind-games, his real psychological strength was in building relationships with his players, and Guardiola does the same.
Here are the three takeaways for today:
1 – Be clear in the message – If improvement in your team is needed, ask for it. If you don’t think it is, you’re going to be left behind.
2 – Although many athletes, especially top athletes, are intrinsically driven, the need to feel safe, respected, and appreciated is a critical factor in success.
3 – Psychological mind games can swing games, but understanding people, behaviors, and relationships can build empires.
In sport, whether as athletes or coaches, the message needs to be clear – there is always more to come. There can always be growth. We can always perform better. We can ask for more.