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“Messi’s injured? We don’t need him”

1 Rationalise and stay positive

The loss of your star player is not important; it’s how you react that matters. Remind your team-mates of this and highlight the need to stay positive. See this as an opportunity to become a better, more consistent team by creating a siege mentality: “It’s us against the world and we’re going to win this together.”

2 Commit to the team goal

Remind the players, the coaches and all the backroom staff of your goals for the season. Get everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction by publicly reinforcing the collective goal. Get them to declare their commitment to the cause. Write clear, positive team messages on pieces of paper and put them up in the dressing room and around the training ground.

3 Have a team meeting

Creating a feeling of togetherness is easier when you not only have a team goal, but also have collective tasks related to the mission. Arrange a team meeting to discuss areas that, as individuals and as a team, need improving. Make a group commitment to doing all you can in training to improve these areas.

4 Focus on the next game

The week the team loses its star player is the most volatile. During this time players may focus on the loss over anything else. Manage their focus by directing their attention towards the next match. Spend time talking to the players about potential weaknesses in the opposition that you can exploit. This is also a great week to head out together for a pre-match meal to build team spirit.

5 Be loud for 90 minutes

The perfect substitute for your best player is a collective focus on having the best matchday mindset possible. During the warm-up and team talk, convey energy, positivity and confidence. Get the team believing in their ability. Encourage them to be loud and supportive of each other from the first kick to the last.

Also see:
"No one likes us, we don’t care!"