England Press Conference

Psychiatrist hired to help England get out of Group D

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He’s received credit for helping English sports teams win in cycling, snooker and soccer… and now he’s being brought about Roy Hodgson’s 2014 World Cup staff to help Three Lions reach their peak.

He’s psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters, and his skills aren’t going to tackle Mario Balotelli, Luis Suarez and Bryan Ruiz, but Steven Gerrard is a believer in the good doctor.

“He has helped me a lot from a personal point of view,” said Gerrard. “He helped me with a groin problem in 2010, when I feared for my career.

“I saw him in a one-on-one situation and I liked his work and continued to see him. I feel he can help the players if the players buy into what he is trying to do.”

From a BBC breakout box entitled “Who is Steve Peters?”

  • Holds degrees in mathematics, medicine and medical education (Masters level). He also postgraduate qualifications in Sports medicine, education and psychiatry.
  • His book, ‘The Chimp Paradox’, explains how the human mind operates and how any individual can learn skills to manage their mind.
  • Sports stars he has worked with include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Craig Bellamy, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.
  • Teams he has assisted include the Great Britain Olympic cycling team, Team Sky, England’s rugby union side and Liverpool FC.
  • Hoy said that “without Steve I don’t think I could have brought home triple gold from Beijing” while Pendleton said he was “the most important person” in her career.

Well, he wrote “The Chimp Paradox,” so it’s obviously a one-way ticket to Gold Trophy City for England.

Jokes aside, sports psychologists are nothing new in helping athletes achieve their best. I can remember from my work covering the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League that star goaltender Ryan Miller credited one for taking his game to the next level.

There’s no harm in bringing in a brilliant man who knows the human brain to aid in a team’s growth ahead of a major event, but you have to laugh when you realize the world of sports we live dictates a headline such as the one on this post.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.