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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Character

Tottenham have bottled it for years when the chips are down. Each year the end of season is an anti-climax. We have UEFA Champions League football in our grasp and blow it again and again. Arsenal can struggle all year then when it comes to the crunch time they pile on the victories. The difference is mentality.

The collective response at 1-1 tonight highlights the importance of acknowledging & assessing character within the profiling process

The Rob Mackenzie tweet above demonstrates to those who brush mentality under the table that it is a key element in assessing a player. Tottenham had undoubtedly got it wrong over time. The recruitment process has simply been not good enough. There have been successes as their always will be, but there have been far too many failures with them.

I don't want players at this club who think talent is all you need. Those players can only take you so far, those players will do what we have done for years. They take you to a point where you have the chance to succeed but have no extra to give when it matters, in fact their performance drops. Fair weather players, flat track bullies to use a cricketing term.

I remember 5-a-side at school representing Kent. I was an organiser, I didn't attack, I was the defender who when we lost the ball ran the team. I would be instructing everyone where to be, what to do until we had won the ball back then it was up to the creative players. A ref who had to be escorted from the arena due to the hostility he received from the crowd for asking for a penalty to be retaken 3 times cost a TV final place. 

During practice or any training some always wanted to be in the best team, I didn't care which team I was in as long as they were willing to work hard. It was amazing what could be achieved by willing players who suddenly saw with a bit of help they could match and beat better teams. The point is hard work is an absolute must, the creativity comes after the hard graft, at every level of football.

The theory is the same with professional players, it boils down to what you believe is possible. If you have total conviction in what you are doing then you perform at a higher level than giving it your best without that conviction. Have our players totally believed they could achieve a top four finish?

There has not been a winning culture at Spurs. At Manchester United you are expected to win, that mentality was built by Sir Alex Ferguson, it has to be built at Tottenham. Gary Neville commented that hard work was a basic requirement and that this Spurs side were doing what others hadn't, no longer were we a soft touch. Rescuing three points against Anderlecht was commendable, a step in the right direction. What we need to add to that is not putting ourselves in the position where we are throwing away a lead so often, again against Arsenal, a lead and its pulled back. 

We lose focus during games, we get complacent as we go through the motions. It is then that we are vulnerable, sometimes we get away with it sometimes we don't. It has nothing to do with the talent in the feet, everything to do with the brain and what it's thinking. The brain has to be trained, just as much as the feet.

Assessing a player mentally is an area we do appear to have addressed and those with weaker minds are being exposed.

Tottenham are moving in the right direction, gaining the right type of player is not an accident, providing them with the right environment to perform is not an accident. It is only when you get talented players together with the right attitude that you have the chance to move to another level. 

We will be looking to retain the core and build on it. Fringe players who are not adding to the squad will go and upgrades found. In any squad there are different types of fringe players, there are those who are the first choice back-up and those who rarely get a game, those that are covering in case of injuries. Tom Carroll springs to mind. They help to keep the wage bill down as well, but it's not always easy to keep them happy.

A happy medium has to be struck. Should these players be experienced or young and hungry. A nice problem to have and one Pochettino will have to consider as he strengthens the squad next summer.





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