Manchester United: David De Gea unsettles the team and makes Van Gaal spiteful
David De Gea desire to lave Manchester United for a new life and glory at Real Madrid has been well documented. Loved and admired at Old Trafford, De Gea’s refusal to accept a new deal and presence in the stands during game he might other have been playing shows makes Alyson Rudd wonder at the impact his transfer has on the psychology of his team.
The answer is that it drives coaches to be spiteful, players to mistrust team-mates and chief executives to panic. The transfer window is a wrecking ball that destroys morale and makes a mockery of the marginal gains that clubs seek for success.
On the way up, the transfer window is all about greed and the Premier League arms race. And what about players being sent down the divisions or who see their path to the first team blocked by a superstar name?
So to De Ge a- why is his mind not ready for the challenge, whatever it is?
“De Gea is a professional athlete and if I was working with him I would be preparing him to perform,” David Fletcher, director of sports psychology at Loughborough University, says. “He has to be a professional. My message would be for him to focus appropriately. Part of the mental preparation for a game is to block out distractions.”
De Gea is losing out. The old saying that says form is temporary but class is permanent contains a nugget of truth, but ask any top sportsman what make them a winner and they will tell you: practice and playing your best at all times.
“It is critical that athletes in a team believe they are pulling in the same direction… We as psychologists talk about emotional contagion. Nerves before a game will spread just as confidence will spread. Players not committed to the team will spread that emotion so that others doubt their commitment to the club…
“Some managers hate not being 100 per cent in control and they can become quite spiteful. They might drop the player or play him out of position. If a lower-league player has the chance of a big-money move, the chairman will be furious that his asset is not being shown off properly, but many managers don’t care or don’t even realise how cruel they are being. They just hate not being in control.”
Surely the manager has to be in control. A compelling narrative, the striving to move forward, depends on individuals. How the manger handles the wantaway player says much about the club and their nous.