Sir Dave Brailsford to give England footballers pre-World Cup pep talk
Roy Hodgson enlists help of GB and Sky boss - but can he help players tame their inner chimp if game goes to penalties?
England football manager Roy Hodgson plans to enlist the help of Sir Dave Brailsford ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup in the hope that the national team’s players can learn from the success of Great Britain and Team Sky's cyclists.
The Daily Star says that Brailsford – reported in October to have turned down an invitation to sit on the Football Association’s Commission aimed at reviving the fortunes of the national team – will give the squad a motivational talk before they leave for Brazil.
England face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage of the tournament, which starts on 12 June.
Hodgson said: “He’s prepared a team of British cyclists to win gold medals and he may be able to give the players a feel for how he’s done that.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that Brailsford, who was born in Derbyshire but grew up in North Wales, has been sought out by football managers eager to learn how he masterminded Team GB’s dominance of the track events at the past two Olympics and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ and Chris Froome’s victories for Sky in the Tour de France.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson met with him after the Beijing Olympics, and following Team GB’s success at London 2012, so too did Roberto Mancini, then manager of Manchester City, whose Etihad stadium lies across the road from the National Cycling Centre.
The success achieved by Brailsford, who revealed earlier this month that he will reconsider his combined British Cycling and Team Sky role after this week’s UCI World Track Championships, has inevitably led to the question arising of whether he would switch sports.
While England’s Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward had an unhappy experience as Director of Football with Southampton, Brailsford himself said last March that he might consider a move into football management at some point.He told the Advertising Week Conference in London that he believed some of the psychological techniques British Cycling had employed were transferrable to football.
"In sport people talk about the zone, switch off the frontal lobe, emotional engagement," he explained. "Switch off the chimp. Penalty kicks are a great example [where] silencing the chimp would be beneficial."
Any advice he can impart to Hodgson and his players in that area might come in particularly handy should England progress to the knockout stages in Brazil.