Looking at the pictures and videos that have been coming out of England’s training camp over the last few weeks, you would not think that they are a team carrying the burden of expectation at this World Cup. They have been pictured in the pool racing pink inflatable unicorns, laughing and joking as they give birthday bumps and the latest evidence that they are having fun shows them larking around with rubber chickens.
You wouldn’t imagine that managers like Alex Ferguson would have been too keen on such antics but Gareth Southgate is surprising everyone with the way he has kept his England team on target for bringing home the World Cup. Sceptics might say that they are not taking things seriously enough but psychologists will tell you that Southgate has perfectly deflected pressure away from his young squad. By enabling them to have a fun and playful training environment, they are bonding as a team and they are not allowing the pressure to shackle their football talent.
Why was England training with rubber chickens?
The coaches were introducing a bit of fun into the training sessions to keep players engaged. Being away from home and family can be distracting for the players, so having a bit of fun can lighten the mood in training. The England lads were all smiles as they hurled rubber chickens at each other as part of a warm-up routine.
Even if England do not manage to negotiate past Croatia in tonight’s semi-final, no-one can accuse them of being chickens in this tournament. They have put on some outstanding displays and even broke the big tournament penalty curse, so there will still be plenty to cheer about. With the average age of the squad just 26, the England team was the youngest and most inexperienced squad that went to the World Cup. The future looks bright, so pink unicorns and rubber chickens could be here to stay!