Robert Zajonc, a Polish-born American social psychologist, had tested how organisms react to audience. To do so, Zajonc used cockroaches, which have a natural tendency to run from the light to darker areas.
Zajonc set up two courses: one simple (a tube) and one complex (a maze).
Zajonc got cockroaches to run down the clear tube towards a light, and found that they ran even faster when watched by other cockroaches. But when put in the maze, it actually took them longer to complete the course when watched by their peers.
This is the “Audience Theory”, a theory that describes a situation where, when faced with relatively easy tasks, we find the presence of other people as a positive stimulus, whereas when faced with a difficult task, the audience is unnerving and we are likely to under-perform. It’s easier for us to do something difficult if we’ve already got the technique right, if we had practiced enough to know what to do.
The better our technical abilities, the better we’ll perform in front of audience.
Usually the better a person is at doing something like being a goalkeeper, the better he will perform when people are watching him. The better one is at tackling and passing – the likelier he will enjoy the “big games”, and perform better when the stakes are higher.
Confidence derives from technical skills. Football is a team sport, therefore a player’s confidence level is directly connected to his teammates’ skill-set as well as his own.
We can see it clearly when players from lesser teams, where the talent pool is limited, seem to play much better after joining a big club – where there’s more competition for places. Ashley Young and Phil Jones, both solid in Aston Villa and Blackburn, have performed astonishingly well since teaming up with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani.
Good players can become excellent when playing with excellent players.
Excellent players will be better off playing in front of a full stadium.
In order to get a stadium full, you need an excellent team. In short, if Arsene Wenger wants his team to play better, he needs to buy some excellent players.