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08th Jul 2024

Fans spot huge difference in Southgate’s pre-penalty routine before England victory

Jacob Entwistle

It was the potential difference-maker between the two teams

Penalty shootouts are as tense as anything that comes in football. The superstitions, the omens, the tiny changes in order to attempt to gain that cutting edge. They make a difference, in fact they can make THE difference.

In this case, it likely did.

England have previously had a terrible reputation in penalty shootouts, however on Saturday the tide thoroughly changed. Five confident, exceptional penalties. Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Take a bow. Faultless.

And fans have noticed a huge difference in Gareth Southgate’s pre-penalty routine, in comparison to how Switzerland manager Murat Yakin orchestrated his side.

Delivering his pre-shootout speech, it was notable how Southgate only gathered together the players on the pitch. Substitutes, including Harry Kane were not involved and thereby on the touchline.

It can be argued that this was in order to minimise distractions, whilst adopting a ‘buddy system’.

The buddy system is a system in which one player would congratulate or support the other after taking the kick, such as through Walker with Palmer, Shaw with Bellingham, Stones with Saka and Rice with Toney.

Alexander-Arnold also presumably had a buddy, however due to scoring the winning penalty joyous celebrations were instead cued by all.

Speaking exclusively to the Athletic, Geir Jordet, author of the book Pressure: Lessons from the Psychology of the Penalty Shootout stated:

“This is a rehearsed, polished routine. It’s screaming that they have everything planned, it’s all deliberate. It’s as close to machine-like penalty-taking as you can get as a team.”

Switzerland, on the other hand all gathered together as a squad, instead of just the team on the pitch.

The little things, ey.