Friday, 31 October 2014

The Tottenham solution beggars belief

If you are going to do something then you should do it the best way possible and incorporate any advancements in science. You should buy the best you can afford to buy. If you want to be the best, you learn from the best.

A bunch of amateurs Tottenham

What you don't do, is do something because that's the way it has always been done or buy Joe Average and expect him to be Gareth Bale.

Mentality is the biggest component in sport and I'm sorry to all of you who don't understand that, but it's a fact, a proven fact, go and ask Gold Medal winning athletes. Gary Neville and Roy Keane have both pointed out recently that Spurs are mentally weak and it's what they associate with Tottenham traditionally, they won't be the only ones.

The world and his wife know Tottenham must do something about their mentality, I have been writing about it for a couple of years. Our failure to address such an obvious weakness endemic within the whole club is to my mind inexplicable.

The words of Mauricio Pochettino after the Newcastle United defeat partially explain the problem, it's being left to amateurs. Now this is not a dig at Pochettino, although some will read it as such, but a cry for the club to do something about the problem.

The club should be employing a specialist to handle the mental side, Pochettino should be asking the club to appoint one.

“I think we are the psychologists. The players want to hear the manager and the staff, the assistant manager, the goalkeeper coach. We can help them. 
“In my career always, when I was a player, we had a lot of meetings, just the players for good and bad things. Maybe here, it’s not the habit. We tried to push that because it’s important sometimes that the players have different meetings with the captain to realise some different situations. The players can always improve in their own meetings. 
Should Tottenham have a professional or a mistake riddled captain as a mental coach?
“We did a lot of work in groups, and as individuals. In the training ground, in meeting rooms, in my personal office, in different areas. But always you need more time to change the habits. We talk about mentalities and changing habits. 
“The mental process is always more slow than the physical or tactical. We are in a good way, I think our job does not reflect in the table. This is maybe a difficult period, but it is the process we have to go through."

Now as far as I am aware Mauricio Pochettino has no qualifications in this area, he only has his own experience, he is in effect an amateur practising at being a professional. Now I know that sounds harsh but mentality is far too important not to be taken seriously and simply leaving it to a coach is not taking it seriously.

This is what we did when I was a player so this is what we will do now. Things move on, things improve, leaving the mentality of the players to an amateur is archaic. Tottenahm need to address the issue, bring in a sports psychologist who will have input on all transfer activity, conduct all player assessments.

If a professional looked at the start of the second half of the Newcastle game he would have a fit. Gary Neville pointed out 4 players who weren't even ready and we also had to wait for Erik Lamela to make an appearance.

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If that is the level of mentality installed after 5 months then I would strongly suggest what is being done isn't working. We are playing at it. It's hardly any wonder the players turn themselves off during games, resulting in mistakes, resulting is goals and dropped points.

Daniel Levy needs to instigate an additional level of coaching and create a culture of improving players mental development. It should be a bolt on to existing coaching and take the place of some of the meetings. A bunch of players with the wrong mentality have a meeting to try and improve their mentality. It's nuts.

Would that happen in business? No it certainly wouldn't, you bring in someone who could explain the problems and how to deal with them. If you can't see a problem then you can't fix it and the players clearly can't see that not switching on until the whistle blows is a problem or they wouldn't have let it happen after the last time.

So people who can't see a problem are meeting to solve a problem they can't see. A bunch of untrained amateurs are meeting discuss an issue they don't understand and find a solution. It beggars belief. They know about skill, about playing football but they know nothing about mentality, if they did then there wouldn't be the problems there are.

The club is letting them down and they in turn are letting the club down. This 'this is how it's always been done' attitude is part of the whole problem and until you change that you are not going to change the mental cancer that runs throughout the club, not just through the playing staff.

Pitch size is no excuse Pochettino

There have been plenty of articles about pitch size with Pochettino making reference to it in a press conference recently and suggesting that may be part of the problem.

Pitch size is no excuse Pochettino

“Our style means we need a bigger place to play because we play a positional game and it’s true that White Hart Lane is a little bit tight."

On the face of it a justifiable statement but quite frankly it's ridiculous. Every coach taking the job at White Hart Lane knows the size of the pitch and as you play half you games there it has to form a part of the assessment process.

The coach has to devise a style of play that suits the players and the pitch size. To do anything else is a flaw in their coaching ability. It is one of the basics of coaching that you assess your surrounding and adapt your coaching accordingly, that should be done when determining a style of play.

Tottenham have a small itch, one of the smallest in the Premier League and it has long been a problem simply because we play the wrong style of football to suit it. For a small pitch you have two options.

You have to make the pitch as wide as possible to stretch the defence so fast wide men come into their own. Alternatively you sit back and let teams attack you and hit them with fast counter attacks. The third method would be to play the long ball to a big target man and play off the knock downs like Bolton used to or finally to play a ball in behind between the centre-half and the full-back, which again requires stretching the defence with wide fast men.

Mousa Dembele Oct 2013

“It’s not easy for us. We know that some teams are going to come here and make a block, and we don’t have a big pitch so it’s even more difficult. 
“A small pitch makes it harder. If we have more space, it’s easier for us, but we have to find a way. The manager will speak to us as well, because we always have a bit of difficulty with these kinds of teams after a game against Hull City). 
“We’ve spoken about it, and everyone was saying ‘wow, it’s unbelievable – everybody is playing like this against us.’ But it’s not only us, because these kinds of sides do it against all the top teams. 
“It’s maybe a bit easier for us when teams try to attack us. It was a similar situation last year in games like this. We hardly ever win them comfortably, but we have a lot of quality in the squad, so there must be a way to find it and I think we will.”

A year on we haven't found a way and it's hardly surprising. If you have a small pitch why make it smaller by playing with inverted wingers? They only work consistently on larger pitches or against weak opposition. With someone like Townsend or Lamela cutting in most of the time the defence can stay tight together and then there are no gaps for us to exploit so we can't play intricate through balls.

When that happens is our players haven't got a clue what to do. Three home defeats already speak volumes, we look devoid of ideas simply because there is no room, it's all eye of a needle stuff.

We have knackered our stand-in right-back by not playing Chiriches out there against weak Europa League opposition so we don't have an overlap on one side. That makes us even easier to defend against, we only have a threat from the left side, where Rose overlaps.

I have not checked the size of the pitch in the new stadium but I hope it is bigger than this, we need it to be the size of Arsenal to suit out style. It is no surprise to me that we can create more chances away from home, at home all we ever seem to do is have long range shots from outside the box and hope to get lucky.

Away from home with play with an interchanging front four or we were supposed to but that seems to have gone out the window at home, we simply play with inverted wingers in too confined a space, hardly surprising that someone like Soldado gets few chances.

Harry Redknapp had it right, he played with fast wide men and fast counter-attacking football, it suited the conditions he was working with, AVB devised a style that didn't suit the playing conditions at all, you have to entertain your home fans, you can't just build a team for away football. I don't think Pochettino has quite grasped how to approach the playing size yet. His comment suggests he is frustrated by it and hasn't paid it enough attention when devising his game strategy.

Building a new stadium creates a dilemma, do you adopt a style of play now that suits a larger pitch, which means you'll struggle at home and probably not qualify for the Champions League or do you adopt a style that suits the size of pitch now, have a chance of getting into the Champions League and change it when and if we get a bigger pitch?

Either way using the pitch as an excuse is way out of line, as a coach you are supposed to devise a style of play that suits it, that's basic coaching.

What we fans need to know is are we devising a long term style of football to suit the new stadium or are we just making a basic mistake?

Team Pitch dimensions 
1. Arsenal 105m long x 68m wide 
2. Aston Villa 105m x 68m 
3. Hull City 105m x 68m 
4. Manchester City 105m x 68m 
5. Manchester United 105m x 68m 
6. Newcastle United 105m x 68m 
7. Southampton 105m x 68m 
8. Sunderland 105m x 68m 
9. Swansea City 105m x 68m 
10. West Bromwich Albion 105m x 68m 
11. Burnley 105m x 67m 
12. Chelsea 103m x 67.5m 
13. Crystal Palace 101m x W68m 
14. Liverpool 101m x 68m 
15. West Ham United 100.58m x 68m 
16. Everton 100.48m x 68m 
17. Leicester City 100m x 69m 
18. Tottenham Hotspur 100m x 67m 
19. Stoke City 100m x 66m 
20. Queens Park Rangers 100m x 65.85m 

Offside or not offside that is the question

Offside used to be simple, now it's different from one person to the next. Take the Manchester City verses Tottenham Hotspur game recently at the Etihad Stadium.

Was Frank Lampard offside when Manchester City scored their first goal against us?

According to Manchester City fans he was not blocking the sight of Hugo Lloris, which unless Aguero was to his left, remember Lampard was facing away from our goal, is impossible. In any other circumstance as the ball passes Lampard it is invisible to Hugo Lloris.

The nearer Lampard stands to Lloris the greater area he bocks our through lines of vision. Lampard then jumps in the air, which is a deliberate attempt to fool a keeper that the ball is coming at him and thus means he is interfering with play.

If he is not interfering with play why is he there? Why is he jumping in the air? Why doesn't he move out the way?

If you play the video and watch Lampard carefully you will see he is deliberately trying to get in the line of the ball to hindr Lloris, he moves to his left to do as as Aguero moves to his right, concliusive proof he intent was to interfere.

Perhaps John Cleese will be able to explain it.

Assou-Ekotto happy to draw £40,000 a week for nothing

As we all know Benoit Assou-Ekotto is for sale and Tottenham made it clear in the summer he could leave on a free transfer.

Assou-Ekotto happy to draw £40,000 a week for nothing

Clearly something happened last summer when he was told by Andre Villas-Boas he would never play for the club again. Benny as we know is not a football fan, he only plays the game because it's something he is good at and the wages are good.

At Tottenham he is on £40,000 a week according to an article in the Mirror who report that Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers refuse to pay those sort of wags. There is nothing new in the article, he is still a Tottenham player, still drawing his wages and has a three game FA ban to serve. Back in 2012 he said he never wanted to play in the Europa League again as the competition was useless.

It has been clear to any fan for a while that Benny is at loggerheads with the club, especially after his tweet with a graphic suggesting as much. He appears to be intent on remaining at Tottenham simply to force us to pay him £40,000 a week while he does whatever he feels like.

The club it seems want nothing to do with him. His last game for the club was May 19th at home to Sunderland in the final game of that seasons Premier League, a game we won 1-0 thanks to a Gareth Bale goal. His contract could be rescinded by mutual consent but that hasn't happened and you have to assume that his agents have told other interested clubs that he isn't going to go anywhere until his contract is finished, that's what it looks like.

Assou-Ekotto spent last season on loan at QPR and was a quality player until January. When he didn't return to Spurs he was, to be blunt, hopeless for the rest of the season.

QPR fans will tell you he was totally disinterested and they couldn't wait to get rid of him. As with many a footballer Asoou-Ekotto only plays when he wants to, when he is motivated enough.

Daniel Levy insisted to Andre Villas-Boas that he reintroduce Emmanuel Adebayor into the first team squad, something AVB was dead against and only reluctantly allowed him to train with them. The club nor Assou-Ekotto have never mentioned what he did but Benny has not trained with the squad since.

The Cameroon international is keeping fit training in France and the recent picture above shows him doing charity work in what looks to be a Lille training kit.

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