A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Team Chemistry here. This World Cup gives me an opportunity to add to that post.
Four teams from the World Cup are worth considering when looking at team chemistry and how it can effect their performances. On the bad side we can learn from France, Italy and England and on the positive side, we can take a look at Argentina. For this post, I will give Italy a pass as I haven't really followed their situation deep enough to make a worthwhile comment, but let's take a look at the others.
France - Why not start with the most extreme example. The French players have been complaining about their coach, Domenech, for years. Past players, supporters and seemingly anyone who had a voice all seemed to complain. But the French Football Federation took no notice and kept Domenech as the coach. So there was obviously conflict with the players and the coach and has been for years.
In this case how can there be a good atmosphere within the team? How can the coach get the best out of his players? How can the players give everything they have for their coach and teammates?
Let's be honest here, France had some older players who were past their best, they were in a tough group. And they have struggled for a couple of years including qualifying for the World Cup and not getting out of their group in Euro 2008. But I think one of the major factors in their poor performances over the past 2-3 years is the poor team chemistry which is a result of a poor relationship between the players and the coach.
What happened at this World Cup with France was just the straw that broke the camels back.
Argentina - Are basically the opposite of France. The Argentinians are renowned for the emotional players and this strong emotion can go either way. But right now, it seems that the players love the situation they are in with Maradonna as the coach. They seem to believe in him, no matter what he does on or off the field. It looks like their is a special relationship between the players and Maradonna that seems to override everything that is put in their path...so far at least. And let's not forget that they have an incredibly talented squad that is as deep as any in the World Cup and probably the world's best player in Messi. But still, just imagine how they would play if they had the same relationship with their coach that France has and you will see the importance of team chemistry.
NOTE - I actually expect Argentina to implode at some point. But only if things don't go their way. Let's say they get a decision against them like the Lampard non goal or the Tevez offside goal against Mexico. Maradonna could throw a wobbler and get ejected and all hell could break loose. Don't discount it.
England - Yes, England doesn't seem to have the world class players it once had, and the ones it does have didn't perform well. And there are other reasons that I have mentioned in an earlier post, but England's team chemistry wasn't good to say the least. First there was John Terry's situation that I don't really need to go into here, but safe to say, some players were on his side and others weren't. And getting stripped of the captaincy surely didn't help. Some of the players didn't like the coach, Capello, which the France situation shows, can really have a negative effect. And Capello didn't help matters with an approach that the players felt was too harsh with too much discipline.
Would it have made much of a difference? It could have. England have got further with other teams that seemingly struggled in World Cups...1990 for instance. But it's safe to say, their chances would have been better and likely their performances also.
Bottom line is, I believe team chemistry is not only helpful, but critical in getting the best out of teams. Don't discount it.