How to lose with a billion dollar team

A Manchester United soccer team assembled with players worth a billion dollars surrendered meekly to a team whose squad cost a third in a two legged European Cup game yesterday. It was a two legged game that illustrated the power of mindset.

Right from the first leg in Sevilla, the Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, set up the team to avoid defeat. The players seemed instructed to pass the ball sideways and take no risks. He approached the game like a Little League club might approach the game against the world champions.

If you’ve watched or followed soccer long enough, you know that the best strategy for a team with great players is to simply go out and play attacking football. Sure, they may concede a goal or two. But, you’d back them to score more than they concede often enough. When you force a “take no risks” strategy onto attack minded players, you paralyze them. Eventually, when the opposition does score that dreaded goal, it takes too long to overcome the inertia and fight back.

In that sense, a risk-free strategy is actually the most risky of them all.

Such (pathetic) defeats are a reminder of the power of mindset. You may have access to the best resources on a day-to-day basis. But, if your mindset isn’t any good, your results won’t be either.