It was a risky but calculated act when Dutch manager Louis van Gaalsubstituted his team’s goalkeeper with just seconds of extra time left during Saturday night’s nail biting World Cup quarter final before the penalty shootout against Costa Rica. It could have easily backfired but proved to be one of the most inspired decisions played out in a public arena.
Yep! I have jumped on the World Cup bandwagon.
As the drama unfolded in our living rooms late on Saturday evening, it prompted a debate between veteran pub league player and Newcastle fan Des Mackin and myself, not even remotely an armchair critic having not even heard of many of the world class players who have graced our screens over the past few weeks.
Des’ immediate reaction was Holland didn’t deserve to go through for making a decision which he thought went against the spirit of the game. I thought it was brilliant. After all, there was nothing to stop any other team implementing the same tactic and with so many games in previous competitions ending in penalties, it made absolute sense to prepare to the best of your abilities for a scenario which had a strong possibility of occurring.
Van Gaal certainly knew his 7 ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Newcastle keeper Tim Krul replaced Jasper Cillessen just seconds before the close of extra time in the 0-0 draw. He was seen ‘psyching out’ the Costa Rican penalty takers and proved Van Gaal, who takes over the management of Manchester United after the competition, had made the right decision.
Arguably, Holland took their planning and practice for penalties one stage further and it paid off although it has been widely reported that neither keeper were aware of Van Gaal’s intentions. Whether it was purely psychological scheming and skilful manipulation rather than careful planning to maximise the talents of a ‘super’ goalkeeper when most needed is neither here nor there; they achieved the result they needed.
No team, manager or football fan wants to see their country exit the World Cup and particularly not as a result of penalties following a gruelling two-hour match. But planning to the enth degree, thinking outside the box and having the balls to implement it with the whole world watching surely marks Van Gaal out as one of the best managers the game has ever seen? I base this view purely on this one decision (please refer to hitherto lack of football knowledge).
Any business – corporation, SME or solopreneur taking a leaf out of his book could well find themselves catapulted to the next level or back at square one ready to fight another day albeit wiser. Making a pre- planned calculated decision which is innovative, inspirational and untested and seeing it through in a highly charged and incredibly tense atmosphere sorts the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the women from the girls and winners from the losers.
Dutch courage? I’ll take some of that and wish Holland all the best in Wednesday’s game against Argentina. I wonder if he will do it again but hopefully it won’t be necessary.
Image credit: © VRD – Fotolia.com