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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Cathedral of football

Roy Keane, undeniably a tremendous player attributes a sports psychologist, Bill Beswick, with improving his mindset. Gary Neville, the countries best right-back for many a year used the same man and David Beckham was inspired by him.

Beswick was working with Manchester United at their Carrington training ground and walked into the room with Beckham and co to tell them a story of three men laying bricks. Each was asked what he was doing. The first answered 
"Laying bricks", the second "Earning £10 per hour". The third, driven by a grander vision, said: "I'm building a cathedral and, one day, I'll bring my kids back here and tell them that their dad contributed to this magnificent building." 

An inspired Beckham promptly scored a 30-yard gem out on the training pitch and ran off in celebration, shouting "Cathedral 1, Bricklayers 0".

That is what Spurs are now trying to build, a cathedral of football. The players now are are the bricklayers, Mauricio Pochettino the site foreman, Daniel Levy the contractor (cue jokes about contractors never delivering on time).

For that cathedral to be built every player has to buy into its construction, he has to want to play his part and look back on his career able to say I helped build the Tottenham football dynasty. The club can not afford to simply look at now, simply look at this season in the way supporters often do. It must take the long term approach, even if that affects the present.

It is clear that that is underway, the debris has been cleared, the foundations laid. We have acquired some of the building blocks, we have more to acquire and much more work to do before we can say its built.

There are two types of mentality a club can adopt, a fighter mentality or a victim mentality. The fighter mentality will get you somewhere, the victim mentality won't unless you channel it into a fight back fighter mentality. Self-belief comes from overcoming anxiety and facing challenge. Spurs of the recent past have not overcome that anxiety yet the Spurs of today appear to be facing challenges head on. 

The performances against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are a testimony to that. In recent seasons we have generally lost to them, this season we lost to United thanks to a misplaced pass having more than held our own, drawn with Liverpool and Arsenal, having out-played them at their place and beaten Manchester City. Five points out of twelve could have been better. The important point is that we no longer have to fear them, w don't have to have an inferiority complex.

The art of the manager is understanding the club expectations manage the players exposure to it. They achieve this by enabling players to focus on their own performance as that is what they can control. There is little point worrying about something you can't control as it will affect the only thing you can control, you.

A club is bigger than any game, any result, while the press or fans may see a crisis, a coach merely sees something to learn from and it is that philosophy which is instilled in players.

England struggled against Spain, we struggle against all the major nations. The primary reason is that our players are conditioned to play a certain role for their clubs and lack adaptability. Foreign players account for the majority of players and they learn their trade by having to play different roles as they develop so they gain an understand of each position.

When England players team up we have an inexperienced squad, asked to play different roles from their club roles, it is no wonder they don't perform them to world class standards. The art of playing football is off the ball running, it creates space and it creates pre-determined passing patterns. If England keep changing the way we play then the players have to keep learning new roles and new methods of playing.

We have to do what Tottenham plan to do. Install a system that every level plays and stick with it, then players at all levels will know their roles. In addition, they have to learn to be adaptable, Dele Alli, for instance, can play in several midfield positions, Eric Dier can play in several positions.

The task for England is a difficult one, the task for Tottenham is arguably simpler.


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