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Thursday January 22 2015
Rudi Garcia’s fallen psychology

With Roma losing their intensity as Juventus press on, Mina Rzouki questions Rudi Garcia’s psychological handling of his side.

Rudi Garcia has proved to be a sporting and psychological masterstroke for Roma. Arriving at a club infamous for overwhelming pressure, he set about changing mentalities and restoring confidence after a torrid season that saw the side finish a disappointing 2012-13 campaign with defeat in the Coppa Italia Final to Lazio. He embraced the veterans, nurtured the youngsters and instilled discipline. His players believed again and played accordingly, challenging Juventus for the Scudetto last season until the final weeks.

While Garcia boasts tactical intelligence and a keen eye for balance, it’s his understanding of human behaviour that has aided him in his quest for glory at Roma. He took great care to refer to the psychology of his players at every given opportunity - translating each momentous occasion as a nod to his players’ mental fortitude. Even his nonchalant comments were a ploy to boost his men, forever demonstrating the importance of their mind and how much they can achieve with a little faith and a lot of work. They were not inferior to any side, it was simply a matter of perspective. How much did they believe in the win?

His side grew leaps and bounds in one year and benefited greatly from the underdog tag. No-one knew what to expect. However, this season has seen a shift. The Giallorossi are no longer the underdogs in Serie A but worthy contenders, even if in Europe they retained the power of the unknown. Drawn into the group of death, Garcia did not panic but merely smiled. He was careful to never express fear, continuously mentioning the joy in partaking in a festival of football. This was about enjoying the occasion not about fearing an early exit.

When their first true challenge came up against Manchester City away from home, he placed all the pressure on the English champions demonstrating his understanding of psychology: “They have zero points and a lot of pressure on their shoulders, so they need to get a result on home turf.” When asked how his own men would handle the occasion, he repeated the psychological trigger phrase: “We must enjoy this moment.” No pressure and nothing to lose.

They achieved the point and perhaps were due more. However, since then Garcia has somewhat lost his handle on the side. His desire to stand up for his team and to the non-believers has resulted in defiance and the psychological weakening of his squad, beginning with the loss to Juventus. Regardless of the controversy surrounding of the refereeing decisions, Garcia’s insistence that followed that his team was the best in Italy coupled with promises that his men will win the title has since placed unwanted pressure on the shoulders of his players, who had previously excelled as the underdogs.

His intention was to provoke a reaction from his squad and prepare them for battle so that they may prove themselves. Instead, Garcia, his men and even their fans began to lose their humility and surrendered to pride. With the Bayern Munich game approaching, Gazzetta dello Sport grew interested in the rising confidence and asked the fans who would triumph. Only 26 per cent believed the Germans would win.

In the end, Roma capitulated, believing that they could play their own game against arguably the best possession side in Europe. Garcia immediately took the blame, carefully shielding his players from criticism. The devastating loss was the result of a tactical collapse, not a psychological one he insisted.

Nonetheless, the result impacted the side, as did the last minute goal against CSKA Moscow. The pressure was mounting, the team was struggling. Then the decisive match against City arrived only for the Coach to insist: “I'm sure we can do it.” The fact they lost is of little importance, what proved concerning was their trepidation. Did they still believe?

The draw to Palermo and the struggle against Lazio since the turn of the year have effectively demonstrated a lack of intensity. Players are missing and at times so is Lady Luck, so battling against excessive pressure and expectation will only compound the problem. It’s with a little calm and further experience that the Giallorossi will be able to achieve their ambitions.

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Have your say...
I stopped reading after "Rudi Garcia's fallen psychology".

Rudi Garcia has got no psychology. It's just whine, whine and then whine some more!
on the 25th January, 2015 at 7:12am
YUP! GOOD OL RUDI.....the last game the ref was right PLLLLLEEEAAASSSEEEEE!!!! RUDI GIMME A BREAK. ROMA IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A one trick pony, Get your house in order before you accuse JUVE OF WHO KNOWS Global Waring ETC... @ Maldini's Heir, one of the many reason's the team's in Seria A are changing player's like underwear is very simply put, Economics and too many CO-Ownership deals amongst team`s that own players. Which I believe Figc put a stop to starting in 2016 and beyond.
on the 24th January, 2015 at 9:21pm
The reason is this; he is a man without honour. Instead of tilting his hat to worthy victors and striving for improvement,he goes on a rant that their opposition's success is undeserved. What he has done has only reinforced the idea in his players mind's that they are entitled to success only that officials have "taken it" from them. This Roma side used to be iron-willed and resolute and one that had my respect as a Juve fan. Now they are no different than spoilt children. No hunger or humility.
on the 24th January, 2015 at 3:59pm
I have been trying to understand why Roma haven't been the team they were for a while and maybe this has nailed it. It was either that Garcia's motivation ran out of steam (always 'allez allez' from the bench when they go behind maybe is now falling on deaf ears) or he isn't great with adapting tactics (Gervinho on the break got founf out quick) or the players are still too reliant on Totti (Pjanic could help but has dropped a level in peformances too). But maybe this is it - Garcia needs to maybe get his team to make his team psychologically tougher, grind out results and not enjoy the moments for a while.
on the 23rd January, 2015 at 10:28am
getting very rich. Going back to Roma. They got close last year. But then they made wholesale changes to their first team squad. It's a miracle they're only 5 points behind Juve. If my employer changed half the stuff in one go I'd say productivity levels would drop just a tad. There needs to be some serious reform in Serie A. I would be in favour of imposing a blanket ban on transfers next season so that teams get their house in order.This of course won't happen.There's too much money to be made
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 11:47pm
That's what happened in most Serie A teams. In fact I count there were 854 transfers involving Serie A and Serie B teams in the summer transfer window with the majority involving Serie A teams. So between 42 teams there were at least 854 transfers in one transfer window. That's an average of 20 transfers per team. Questions need to be asked as to why teams are making this many changes each year. I do not believe it is for the benefit of the football teams or the fans. There are a lot of people
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 11:44pm
As I've said in the other blog Roma excluding the usual merry go round of co-ownerhsip transfers Roma signed 13 (not 11) new players this summer: Keita, Sanabria, Cole, Emanuelson, Iturbe, Arario, Manolas, Carbonero, Holebas, Uçan, Paredes, Astori, Yanga-Mbiwa. They spent 47m. They sold or loaned out 16 players. That's 29 changes to the first team squad in one transfer window. Imagine if you turned up a work one day and 50% of your colleagues had been replaced. That's what happened at Roma.
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 11:38pm
The problem here is that this is 2015 not pre 2006. Italian football, competitively, died after calciopoli and has not been resurrected. Juventus are miles ahead of every other team. The disparity is huge. This Roma, pre 2006, would have struggled making the top 4. Now they are somehow second. Roma are bad but the other sides are even worse. Roma are simply the best of a bad bunch and have therefore been made to be the anti juve by the media, when really, they are no more than a whimper.
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 7:49pm
The problem is he got too cocky and got burnt. Mina is right, he like everyone myself included at the beginning thought with the departure of Conte the league was Roma's to win. However Allegri is doing a adequate job.
The capitulation to Bayern was understandable given their false confidence, but the mental weakness against cska and the fact they didnt even turn up against man city at home is unforgivable. He got what he deserved running his mouth off rather focusing on coaching intelligently.
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 7:47pm
I think the main problem people are overlooking here is that Roma have no real top quality goal scorer. The team is only 5 points behind Juve and their leading scorer is Ljajic with 6 goals in the league.. Meanwhile Tevez has 13 in Serie A alone. With a proper game changer that can score 15-20 goals in the league Roma should be sitting level or above Juve. This is the one thing holding back this team.
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 5:14pm
Garcia is a hypocrite. He overplayed the "refs helped Juve" card to pressure refs and lost track of his team's football. I have no sympathy for him.
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 4:31pm

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