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The man who gets Sydney FC ready to wiggle

NZN 28/04/2017 Emma Kemp

He's a former business leader and strategist for the Wiggles and now the beating heart behind Sydney FC's winning mentality.

Mike Conway, professor at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, has been a quiet but enduring presence at the Sky Blues - even before the A-League season started.

Wearing the club tracksuit and often loitering around training and the dressing room on matchdays, the 'emotional intelligence, resilience and leadership advisor' can be credited with helping ingrain the inclusive team culture often referenced by coach Graham Arnold.

Where strength and conditioning coach Andrew Clark maintains the players' physical fitness, Conway develops fitness of the brain.

And in a sport centred just as much on mental durability as skill, his influence has been a vital component of Sydney's absurdly successful campaign.

"I have enjoyed working with the first team squad at Sydney FC," Conway wrote in a post on LinkedIn.

"These young men are in most instances optimistic souls. However, all have their doubts at one time or another, particularly under pressure or in times of failure and disappointment.

"In these instances, non-effective processes creep in. I have been specifically adopting a positive psychology and hypnotherapeutic techniques which build individual emotional intelligence and resilience."

The result is obvious in the way Arnold and his players genuinely expect to win each week, and in this week's insistence that Saturday's season-defining semi-final against Perth is nothing more than "round 28".

Of course, superstition still plays a little part - chicken and pumpkin risotto is the fixed lucky lunch menu the day before each game, and there might be something behind the continuing presence of skipper Alex Brosque's sumptuous beard.

But overall, defender Rhyan Grant said the psychological growth had made a huge difference.

"We've done a lot of mental stuff this year with Arnie and the staff," Grant said.

"People like Mike have come in talk to us about that sort of stuff.

"It's a confidence thing and we have that belief in each other that we can always get a goal back, go up a goal and go until the final whistle.

"It's put belief in everybody, we know we can run a game out and score goals whenever we put our minds to it."

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