Wayne Harrison Recommends Matthew Whitehouse’s Mindset and Hard Work
Wayne Harrison, Co-Founder Soccer Awareness Elite Academy, shares his thoughts on the Power of Positive Reinforcement. A former pro soccer player at Blackpool F.C. in the English Championship league as well as the Academy Director, Harrison was also the Youth Director Al Ain Football Club in the UAE. An author of more than 12 books on soccer coaching, he now coaches youth soccer, writes and presents at coaching symposiums worldwide. Harrison holds a UEFA ‘A’ License and the NSCAA Premier Diploma, as well as a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and sports psychology. He is the Director of Coaching for Total Futbol Academy.
Wayne Harrison agrees that, “Ronaldo worked to prove the doubters wrong and Man United while Rooney fell asleep.” Here is Wayne Harrison’s recommendation – an interesting opinion on two famous soccer players and what makes a player really successful by Matthew Whitehouse‘s “Whitehouse Address Blog“. Matthew Whitehouse is the highly acclaimed author of “The Way Forward: Solutions to England’s Football Failings” available on Amazon.
Cristiano Ronaldo worked to prove the doubters wrong and Manchester United while Wayne Rooney fell asleep.
The saying, ‘He had all the talent in the world but’…..Ah, there’s always an excuse for why people never accomplish what they could have.
Was it luck, injury, a missed opportunity or was it down to mentality and mindset? The mental part of the game is the key distinguishing feature of what makes the good great and what separates those who ‘‘make it’’ and those who don’t.
This brings us to the issue of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United’s best young talents back then.
In 2002, the world of football had been introduced to the brightest young talent; Rooney’s right foot volley against Arsenal signified that someone very special had arrived. Rooney appeared destined for great things. Even Arsene Wenger predicted a bright future for the young lad.
(Wenger is a French football manager of English Premier League’ team Arsenal. Arsenal’s longest-lasting coach, he has won more major titles, having led Arsenal to 11 trophies since 1996.)
Back then, players like Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were not even in the radar to be regarded as the brightest young talent. Rooney looked like football’s future, the best player of his generation.
After the Euro 2004 where he had proved himself in the big stage, Sir Alex Ferguson made sure that after missing out on previous talent such as Alan Shearer, he would not let Rooney slip away and when he was signed, he would now be the centerpiece of United’s future.
It was perhaps not surprising that Rooney was bought considering what Ronaldo had produced the previous season. He arrived to replace David Beckham in the summer of 2003 after United had missed on Ronaldhino and Arjen Robben and it proved to be a tall order for the young Portuguese. United appeared a step too far and it appeared that Ferguson had found a dud. Rooney would be United’s main man.
Between 2004 and 2006 a change occurred, Ronaldo began to improve and grow as a mature player, his skills were becoming frightening for defenders because he was becoming more effective, his shots which were earlier frustratingly wide far too often were now finding their target with ruthless precision, he had nice physique.
It was no surprise that success for United was forthcoming, three league titles in a row between 2006 and 2009 and back to back champions league finals highlighted the quality of this United side…point, the key player was not Rooney but Ronaldo.
In 2004 this would not have been probable at all, yet by 2009 Ronaldo had become arguably the world’s best player.
So what happened? Why did Rooney not progress along the same lines as Ronaldo? He clearly had the talent and ability probably more than Ronaldo at first, yet it was clear that one of these men was more determined, more focused and more willing to make himself great.
Yes Rooney was playing well yet he was not excelling to the levels to the levels of Ronaldo, he was not enhancing his strength or speed like Ronaldo was. The difference was in each others mindset. Rooney was a player who was always dominant on the football pitch and excelled there. He believed in his ‘talent’ and was probably lauded for his “natural ability’’ throughout his teen years. His progression to senior football was probably ‘expected’ by him as football became easy. Rooney did not think he needed to train to improve with intensity to become great.
This was the difference between Rooney and Ronaldo. One found it all too easy and didn’t seek to improve further because he didn’t think he needed to, whereas the other came through those early years of struggle. Ronaldo was taunted by the media and fans in his first years at United and he set out to prove them wrong. He ultimately became the best. Ronaldo’s mindset to work harder than anyone else produced the player we see today. A need to prove others wrong.
The case with Ronaldo points to a difference in approach to Rooney. He clearly felt that he needed to train harder to improve and perhaps felt second best to Rooney and therefore sought to push himself harder to improve. It’s amazing to see the personification of Ronaldo as a selfish and egoistical player; the truth is that he is perhaps the hardest working player in world football. It was all about hard work obsession to train and improve with the belief in his mind of being the best.
Now Ronaldo has played second fiddle to Lionel Messi for several years which has clearly frustrated him yet it has made him work harder and want to achieve more. The potential in the player is still frightening.
What about Rooney? He found it easy and didn’t work hard, for a player with that mindset they feel that is sufficient. Extra work and intense drills are not required and this is where we are with Rooney now. He is regarded as too rigid and “past it’’ in the modern game whereas Renaldo is considered as the most complete in the world. Ronaldo’s value could be 100M Pounds and Rooney 35M Pounds yet both players were afforded the same opportunities, but it was Ronaldo who seized the chance to become the best.
Rooney ‘natural talent’ and fixed mindset has produced a player who doesn’t appear to enjoy being second or not being loved. Instead of having the mentality to work harder and prove those around wrong, he always sulks when experiencing a bad patch, a mentality which a lot of English players have.
Ronaldo’s meteoric rise to being the best in the world proves that setbacks can be great catalyst for greatness if correct mindset is in place. The growth of the mindset could be the most important tool for developing players.