AFC Wimbledon players spend six hours with sports psychologist – as boss Neal Ardley believes getting mentality right is key

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Neal Ardley is feeling the heat – but he isn’t sure the same applies to his AFC Wimbledon players.

A number of the Dons squad are out of contract in the summer. And being part of a League One outfit who are on a dreadful run of form and deep in drop danger hardly looks like a good PR pitch to potential new employers.

But Ardley said: “I don’t think, being a player, that they think that far ahead.

“They don’t start thinking about what may be in front of them until they probably get to February or March time. There is so much of the season to go.

“It can turn. You can go on a run and start scoring goals. It’s when you get to February or March and have 15 games to go and you are still in this position.

“They had a six-hour meeting with our sports psychologist this week. I don’t believe this is a football thing, for me it’s a mental thing, confidence – whatever.

“It is when we go 1-0 down, having that belief that we can score goals. For me it is a mental block because I look at the way the team played early in pre-season when the pressure wasn’t on. It was a talented team that knew how to play and were better than the opposition.

“Now we can’t seem to do that because of the pressure and what has happened to them has started to affect them.

“It is about the players believing in everything we are trying to do. There is a chance I am running out of time to turn it around. Football is unpredictable – there are no guarantees. 

“Over the last six to eight weeks I have worked harder than ever before to try and instil it. I’m not a ranter and raver who dents players’ confidence. I always try and boost the players.”

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