Ruben Selles: Why I employ a psychologist for myself and my family
Written by Simon Austin — January 18, 2024
RUBEN SELLES has revealed he uses a psychologist for both himself and his family because of the “ugly” side of football management.
The Spaniard, 40, took over at crisis club Reading in the summer and also managed Southampton in the Premier League for the second half of last season.
Speaking on the Training Ground Guru podcast, Selles said: “If things are going well and you are winning matches, then it's good, because when people recognise you in the street, or with the friends of your kid, people have only good words for you.
“But when things are not going that well, it become sometimes ugly - for them also (your family). All of a sudden they also become a target in school, because I was the manager of the team in the city.
“When you win a game it's good, everything is fantastic, but when you don't win the game or you lose, then it's not pleasant for them and they kids can be a little bit hard to each other in those ages.”
Selles, who has coached in his native Spain as well as in Greece, Russia, Azerbaijan and Denmark, said the scale of the Premier League was sometimes overwhelming - for a manager and their family.
“It is worldwide when you are in the Premier League,” he said. “When you are making a press conference and my wife was in the gym at 12 or 1 and then every TV is just showing your press conference.
“It just changes your life, (whether) you want it or not. I don't think it changes our life in the way we are or the way we act, but it just changes the repercussions that you have in the world - people communicating with you, people recognising you, from the moment that you go to drink a coffee or when you go to pick up your kid from school.”
Selles said management and coaching were also all-consuming in terms of time away from family, as we’ve previously explored on TGG.
“I’m the kind of coach that I leave my home at six in the morning and I come back at 7:30, 8:00 in the evening, so I try to spend time of quality with them (his family), if that thing exists," he said.
“She (wife Anna) was the one that in the very beginning told me, ‘Do your business, we will be fine, we will be here to support you.’ We have been navigating together for 15 years that kind of situation, but it was like, ‘Now it's our opportunity.’
“We see the opportunity as ours, not my opportunity, so we see it as a team and and our kids see it also.”
Selles said he had used psychologists throughout his career and particularly last season at Southampton - and not only for himself, but also for his wife and two children.
“I’ve been using psychologists my entire life and I used a psychologist in that period (when he was manager of Southampton) and we also get some support for Anna and the kids, because it's really an experience and you need support to manage it in the proper way," he said.
“For Anna, for my wife, and for me, it was critical that we keep an eye on the kids and we bring them the support that they need. I got Christian (Christian Engell), that's a psychologist that was working as a mental coach for us in Copenhagen. I wrote to him for the last couple of months in Southampton - for the club but also for me.
“Until today I'm working with another psychologist in Spain that helps me to go through those things and we also try to get some advice for the kids, so I think it's important. I consider these situations, as a manager in Premier League, like extreme situation and I know some of the other managers also use the systems at the LMA, with Jen (Jennifer Lace) as a Head of Psychology who also helps us a lot.
“I had Jen visiting me a couple of months ago to see if everything was going well with the kids and family. You cannot do things alone in the world of football and everyone needs a good team around - especially managers, we need the teams around us to take care of a lot of things and mental health is very important.”