Part 1 - Spurs need to go mental

 Spurs Need To Go Mental - Part 1

Spurs must change their mental approach next season if we are to succeed in our annual quest for Champions League football. It won't happen with a manager waving a magic wand.

This is an introductory article on a series around the mental approach Spurs need to take with player transfers and the players need to take themselves. There will be an article tomorrow morning, Sunday and then the next article on Monday evening.

Tottenham recently came back from 3-0 down to grab a 3-3 draw against West Bromwich Albion. This was not the first time Spurs have had to do this, also recently we were 2-0 down against Southampton, 1-0 down against Sunderland.

It is quite common, especially in European games for ex professional footballers to tell us it is time for the big players to stand up and be counted. An armchair fan would agree, a coach would tell you that is the wrong mentality to have.

Unfortunately that mentality is still rife amongst footballers and is the main reason why so many players have such dramatic highs and lows in the way they perform. The commentators will tell you he is out of form when in fact it is usually his mental approach that is wrong.

Take Emmanuel Adebayor, he's great when he wants to be and rubbish when he doesn't. How do you know which player is going to turn up. Last season he was dreadful, sulking. Now Sherwood is playing him we are getting 8 trying games out of 10 from him.


Spurs need to go mental


You notice how some teams perform better against the top teams, that is because the players can motivate themselves, as anyone should be able to for a big game. If you can't you shouldn't be playing the game.

A player should permanently be standing up to be counted, those that do it more regularly are those with the better mentality. They are the players who stand out in a game, who rise above mediocrity.

It's a philosophy, a way of life, always being ready, always being 'up for it'. Mental attitude separates people in all walks of life not just football, it’s what separates the true winners from everyone else.

If you don't stand up to be counted against the like of Stoke City or Norwich City then you don't deserve to be taking your place and lining up against teams in the Champions League.

The problems at Tottenham don't stem from the players not having had time to gel but from a poor mental approach by too many of them and that is worrying. It suggests that some of our purchases will not come good or will only turn up for the bigger games, those players are not going to win us anything. Some players consistently warm the bench. Fans may demand they should be playing. but they are on the bench because of their mental approach, if they were motivated for every game they wouldn't be dropped, they wouldn't be on the bench unless they needed a rest.

If I were to ask you what are the big games, virtually all of you would say Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd etc. But that shows a wrong mindset, unfortunately if you ask half of our players the same question they would give the same answer. They are the very players you don't want playing against the perceived lesser teams because the player takes them lightly. He can have all the skill in the world but if he is not mentally up for the game his skill is wasted.

Every game is a big game, every game carries 3 points, none carry more. Just imagine for a moment that we lost all the games against the top 4 both home and away, we'd have no chance of Champions League football would we.

But what if all the players were 'up' for all the other games and won those we'd amass 90 points. That would win you the title most seasons. The perceived little games are just as important, the team that most recognised that wins the league.

When you hear a player say 'It goes without saying all games are important', he is revealing he doesn't think so, he is in fact revealing he isn't up for some games. Mousa Dembele springs to mind when we lost to Leeds I think it was in the FA Cup a few seasons ago. He revealed afterwards that he and others weren't 'up' for the game. They weren't motivated, they didn't see it as a big game.

The answer to that question reveals how you approach different games. The games that seem unimportant, the games you are expected to win easily are the games where you simply must have the right mental approach, if you don't it becomes a potential banana skin, and we have seen plenty of those this season and that FA Cup tie was a case in point as was the Portsmouth semi-final.

Spurs need to go mental

Players who believe certain games are bigger than others are the players who will have highs and lows of form. They are more likely to perform in what is a big game for them and less likely in a perceived minor game. A side with too many of those players will always lack consistency.

It's all a part of that winning mentality I have spoken about before, it's the mentality Tim Sherwood has and the mentality he has been looking for and not finding in his players. It's the reason for his outbursts, it's the reason we have been poor this season, not a failure to gel.

The players will need to be mentally prepared better next season, educated if you like, to instill the correct mental approach, a winners mental approach. To some people it's natural, to others it's attainable, but to others it's impossible.

If every game is seen as a big game by each individual then their performances over a season and therefore the teams performance would significantly improve. Give everything in every game and we'll be winners. You have to approach a game as if it is vital, because it is and then approach the next game as if it's vital and then the next.


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Players have to be hungry for success, too many of ours are not. They need to find that hunger again, find that desire, find that passion. It's no good just doing it against Arsenal.

The warm up procedure, the training session, the stretching, the cool down the canteen, little has changed, nutrition has got better but the mental approach hasn't. You have to question whether it is even being worked on at all. If you fail doing something and keep simply doing the same things you will continue to fail. It takes bravery to change, perhaps Spurs need to employ a sports psychologist.

Tottenham should be on a never ending quest for higher and higher levels of performance through continuous self analysis at every level, right the way up to the Daniel Levy himself. We have a strategy but certain aspects appear to be overlooked and the mental approach is one of them. It is everything in sport.

Our first-half performances all season have been lazy, mentally weak, games have been approached with the wrong mindset.

Next season we must put it right.


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