The power of positive thinking has been shown this summer with Jurgen Klinsmann talking up his over-performing German side throughout the World Cup. Ultimately they fell just short of making the final but it is not much of an exaggeration to say that in the wake of Germany's 4-1 defeat to Italy in March that Jurgen was the only German who believed in the team. Obviously their rigourous fitness regime and momentum from early wins in the competition helped them on their run but the side are unanimous in their praise for their boss and his positive outlook.
So, when Maurice Malpas states that he wants Motherwell to finish higher, win more points, score more goals and lose less goals than before, should we be supporting his confidence in the squad (and in his own, untested, ability) or should we be nervously studying our feet until the mad man is carried back to the training ground?
In truth, it is probably wise not get too carried away with expectations or delusions over what we'll achieve this season. It is still within memory that Partick Thistle were claiming they had the largest budget outside the Old Firm and would be challenging for Europe (or such) in a season which saw them begin a rapid descent to the Second Division. But for a change it should be time to talk up our abilities. Terry Butcher did amazing things for our club and is one of our best ever managers. However some of his comments – in general, not just before big games – possibly betrayed his belief that we were overachieving and that we would never be able to take that elusive step from being nearly men to actual winners. If we are ever to step up from challenging for sixth to challenging for fourth or go from semi and final losers to cup winners, we need to believe in ourselves and our opponents must know that we believe in ourselves. A lack of confidence is a definite weakness in today's game and other managers would no doubt have been highlighting our lack of confidence and nervous noises in motivating their own players before big matches. There is a fine line to be drawn between confidence and arrogance but the players have ability and must believe they can succeed with Motherwell.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Malpas' comments is the timing. Had we recently completed a couple of ‘coup' signings a statement of belief would have appeared strong and credible. As yet when we have not replaced the departing Hammell, Leitch or McCormack, never mind strengthened the squad from last season, setting our targets for immediate improvement seems overly optmistic.
But Mo is a mere youngster in managerial circles, he is not expected to have a degree from the Alex Ferguson University in footballing psychology. Ultimately it is heartening to know that even when most Motherwell fans would accept a season of transition, our leader is already aiming higher.