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Biting back: Dr Peters and silencing the Inner Chimp

By Matt Butler

The Inner Chimp must have worked overtime on Bank Holiday Monday. England's football team will be hoping the pesky ape decides to take the summer off.

The metaphorical chimp in question is the limiting factor so beloved by sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters. And on Monday it wreaked havoc. The simian pest first saw to it that Liverpool threw away a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace, before getting into Ronnie O'Sullivan's head in the snooker World Championship final.

Peters has been in Liverpool's employ since November 2012 and was name checked by Steven Gerrard as the man who helped him rekindle his belief over the last 18 months.

Similarly, Peters was credited with reviving O'Sullivan's love for snooker, helping him win world title numbers four and five in 2012 and 2013.

Silencing the inner chimp is at the core of Peters' methods. It worked with British Cycling and seemed to be having a transformative effect on Liverpool and O'Sullivan. He was the guru of self-belief, able to turn also-rans, or in O'Sullivan's case couldn't-care-lesses, into winners. Just what a team of perennial under-achievers like England need before the World Cup in Brazil.

But then came those nine minutes at Selhurst Park, when Liverpool did the football equivalent of chucking their trousers in the washing machine with the winning lottery ticket still in the back pocket. Mark Selby swiftly proceeded to put the boot into that other Peters charge, when he came back from 10-5 down to beat O'Sullivan 18-14.

Perhaps Liverpool's and O'Sullivan's chokes tell us we should not put too much stock in psychiatrists. They can have an effect, of course — who'd have thought Liverpool would have even been challenging for the Premier League in the first week of May? — but the amount they can change people's thinking clearly has its limits.

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