Graham Arnold has implored his players to avoid reading “shite” on social media, warning it will negatively affect their psychological preparation for Australia’s definitive final World Cup Group D match against Denmark.
Only 90 minutes stand between the Socceroos and a place in the round of 16 for the first time since 2006, but Arnold is just as concerned about how much external noise his squad take on board during the build-up, impressing upon them advice from personal experience: “The same people backing you are the ones killing you the day after.”
“I know I keep saying it, and I hope finally you might be believing that I don’t read anything,” Arnold said on Tuesday, less than 48 hours before his side return to Al Janoub Stadium for a third time. “I know the effect it can have on people, and it does have a huge effect on celebrities, sports stars or whatever.
“Mentally it’s the biggest thing, and if it affects your brain it doesn’t matter how fit you are, technically how good you are or how good the tactics are, they don’t take it in because they’re mentally not ready.”
Arnold says he took lessons from the Tokyo Olympics, where his Olyroos upset Argentina 2-0 in their first group game but went on to lose their second and third matches to Spain and Egypt and finish bottom of their group.
“That’s why I had the huddle straight after the game,” Arnold said. “Because if there’s one thing I learned at the Olympics [it’s that] after the big win against Argentina it was too much celebration, and that celebration is social media.
“They get on that until 4am or 5am and watch all the great comments and enjoy all that shite, and it affects the sleep patterns. You’re up until 5am looking at good comments, and the same people backing you are the ones killing you the day after. So just get rid of it, don’t look at it.”
It comes a day after Arnold’s wife, Sarah, told News Corp she protects her husband from “nasty and awful” social media criticism which has dogged his national team tenure, and sometimes hits back with a one-finger salute emoji.
“I’m really glad I played in the days where there was no mobile telephones and no journos giving you ratings out of 10 and things like that,” Arnold said. “It was a long time ago, I know, but it’s a big thing. I think players these days are so mentally strong because of that, but at the end of the day I have to get my wife off social media, I have to get my kids off social media, because it nearly kills them in this environment.”