Following on from the last post on unity of purpose, I’m continuing with the theme of football (soccer for those in the US!), on Sunday in the match of the premier league season so far, Manchester United, having been 2-0 up and then pegged back to 2-2, scored the winner in the 92nd minute. In a post match interview, United striker, Wayne Rooney, said that “under Sir Alex we never know when we’re beaten”.
Ever since the legendary night in May 1999, when United beat Bayern Munich to win the European Champions League for the second time, coming from behind to score the equaliser on the 90th minute and the winner in injury time, they have acquired a reputation of a team that never knows when they’re beaten. This season they have come from behind a number of times and on four occasions the winning goal has been scored in the last 10 minutes of the game.
The quality at this level, as with any elite sport is exceptional. The last 30 minutes of last Sunday’s Manchester derby were talked about as being of astonishingly high quality attacking football by some pundits. In this context to retain that “never give up” mentality requires phenomenal mental strength, whether in a team game like football, or in an individual sport like tennis, when the temptation to feel down has to be overcome to retain focus on not just winning but what the performance needs to be to achieve that. For United it required they continue to attack with a cohesive team performance but at the same time maintaining concentration in defence.