England v Germany Euros clash: Leeds sports lecturer asks - should England expect?

A  Leeds Beckett Carnegie School of Sport lecturer is asking the question on the lips of every England fan ahead of tonight's Euro 2020 clash with Germany - should England expect?

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:45 am
Dr Andrew Manley from Leeds Becketts Carnegie School of Sport.

Dr Andrew Manley - a principal lecturer in sport and exercise psychology - has spent the past 10 years helping conduct research into the effects of expectation on high profile athletes in the media spotlight ahead of major events.

Dr Manley said: "Findings of this research has demonstrated that high-performance athletes experience expectations from a wide range of sources including but not limited to the media, coaches, the public, family, friends, and the sport’s national governing body."

He said expectations can have both positive and negative consequences for the athletes.

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Leeds United and England star Kalvin Phillips (left) and Czech Republic's Tomas Holes battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Dr Manley said: "So, what can England’s performers do to manage the expectations ahead of this week’s crunch encounter with one of their fiercest rivals?"

"The athletes who have participated in our research have advocated a number of strategies they found useful.

"The athletes said they focused on controlling the controllables, meaning that they would identify and focus on things which were under their direct influence.

"It is interesting to hear England midfielder, Phil Foden, speaking about the team’s efforts to harness as much control and influence as possible over performance outcomes, even when it comes to the potential of a penalty shootout.

"Avoidance is another strategy reportedly used by high-performance athletes in managing expectations.

"Examples of this would be athletes taking steps to avoid seeing, hearing, and reading any performance-related expectations, sometimes through methods such as ignoring social media.

"Gareth Southgate has also previously encouraged his players to actively distract themselves to prevent thinking too much about the pressure associated with expectations, for example by reading a book, playing pool, socialising.

"And, what can we all do to help support the England men’s football team and their head coach manage the performance expectations?"

Dr Manley added: "If we truly consider ourselves to be part of the athlete’s support team and have their best interests in mind, we should take responsibility for creating an environment in which athletes can feel comfortable to share their experiences openly and without fear of judgment.

"This is certainly relevant to our research regarding expectations and their consequences, yet goes far beyond this.

"If we really want to show our adoration for these inspirational people, we could do so much more than expressing what we expect them to achieve."