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03rd Jan 2020

Confidence in football and why strikers feed on it

Wayne Farry

Sponsored by Paddy Power

Confidence is important in football

When a footballer is confident, they are far more likely to perform to the best of their abilities. This is not some kind of sporting secret, and in truth it applies to every other avenue outside of football as well.

Whether you’re an accountant, a gardener or cricket player, if you’re feeling good you’re going to be better at your job – and the same applies for footballers.

When we discuss confidence in football though it tends to apply disproportionately to strikers more than players in any other position. Obviously, confidence is important for all players, but when it comes to sticking the ball in the net it appears to be that little bit more crucial.

Confidence was one of the topics discussed on the latest episode of Liquid Football, prompted by the hot run of form that Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has found himself in.

Despite failing to score against Manchester City on New Year’s Day, Calvert-Lewin has eight goals this season, as many as Raul Jimenez and Gabriel Jesus and more than Anthony Martial and Roberto Firmino.

While Calvert-Lewin’s run of form has surprised many football fans, it is, according to Steve Sidwelll and Carlton Cole, the result of a player who is finally feeling confident in his abilities, something no doubt buoyed by his new manager Carlo Ancelotti and a little bit of luck along the way.

“I think there’s always been talent there, but it’s really come to the forefront,” said Sidwell. “Everything he’s doing now is coming off. He’s getting the rub of the green. And you get that when you put the hard yards in.”

Rub of the green aside, host Kelly Cates replied, are they simply times when you go out onto a pitch knowing that you’re going to play well? According to Carlton Cole, it is dependant on your situation.

“When Zola came in at West Ham, he came to me and told me, ‘Listen, you’re the man.’ And he said it in front of the team as well,” said Cole. “So to everyone, he says ‘Get the ball up to Coley. I’ve got no doubt he’s gonna make things happen.’

“So for me when I came out of that meeting I’m thinking ‘I’m the boss here!'”

Cole doesn’t strictly agree that the position of striker is more confidence-based than others, but admits that there are some forwards, himself included, that fall into that category.

He said: “There are some strikers – I come under this banner – where sometimes I do need an arm around me if it’s not going well. Because I’m working so hard for the team, then I get in front of goal and miss a chance, and then the crowd goes ‘Arghh’, then your confidence goes lower. So it does happen.”