Watching the World Cup, there are, it seems to me, two winning ingredients. One is the truly world class performer, a Messi or a Suarez. The other is intensity, or as many South American coaches in particular cultivate it, ‘relentless intensity.’

Spain have lost it. England never had it, unlike ‘tiny’ Uruguay- who had intensity and Suarez. Even footballing minnows Iran held out with intensity against the much superior Argentina until the 91st minute when fatigue, and world class Messi, made the difference .

For a once-in-a-lifetime event like the World Cup, as opposed to the twice weekly Premier fixture, it would seem that the  essential quality for the coach is the ability to generate intensity in his players. The thoughtful Roy Hodgson may have many qualities but he does not ‘do’ intensity. Not like an Alec Ferguson or the animated touch-line South American coaches whose body language seems to radiate intensity.

In companies intensity generally starts at the top. Apple a notable example. This is how biographer Walter Isaacson described Steve Jobs: “The thing that struck me was his intensity. Whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme … this intensity was also evident in his ability to focus. He would set priorities, aim his laser attention on them, and filter out distractions. If something engaged him he was relentless.”

In a pitch the apparently weaker team that has intensity can defeat stronger rivals. But, to strike a highly practical note, intensity will be diluted if the pitch team has to concentrate energy servicing existing business. A question of priority that is easily overlooked.

An earlier post discussed intensity, referencing athletics.