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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Driven Pochettino driving Spurs to achieve

Driven Pochettino driving Spurs to achieve

Tottenham have had a reputation for being fragile when the chips were down time and time again the club would fall short. If we conceded one goal we could concede several. being 3-0 up against manchester United at While Hart Lane and losing 5-3 summed it up pretty well. Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have told his players if we score the next goal we'll win this.

For fans that often means go out and spend more money but to be honest, that isn't the answer. We could have won the league with the players we had, for me there is no doubt about that. They would have had to be developed the way the current Tottenham players are being developed though, they would have had to change their mentality.

It is the key to everything, it dictates, how far you will go in the game and how much you will win. The best managers understand it, lesser mortals don't. You can't turn on and off a mentality, it has to seep from every pore of the club. The right mentality has to be the expected norm, not a luxury you try to aspire to.

Mauricio Pochettino is a workaholic who hasn't had the cushioned life of a youngster today. Opponents smashing team bus windows, objects hurled at players who, at times, feared for their lives. That was the world where Pochettino was fashioned, a world where Marcelo Bielsa demanded youngsters compile tactical dossiers on opponents and put in a monumental effort both on and off the field. 

Players were forged who had the mentality to never give in, to work their socks off, to believe in what they were doing and to trust the manager, everything Pochettino demands now.

"Sometimes, you are worried for your life. When I came over to France, England or Spain, people told me it was difficult to play, but when we arrived, it was nothing. They shout when something goes wrong, but nothing else. This is easy.”

Everything is relative, players over here would tell you they haven't had it easy, but in comparison to a youngster in South America, it is a cake walk. Hardly surprising who has the stronger mentality, hardly surprising England lost to Uruguay at the World Cup when we were theoretically the better side on paper.

Pochettino undertook a masters in business management after he retired playing having spent his entire playing career discussing tactics. 
“I was a coach, but from below my neck I was still a player. I wasn’t making notes or anything like that. I was not organised enough, but I always had the idea of being a manager and I was always making mental notes. I knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t just stop playing and think, ‘Now what?’”

Those who doubt his tactical acumen don't have an ounce of his tactical knowledge. Former teammates and players say he is tactically top drawer. Who do you believe, a Xbox fan or successful professional footballers and coaches, no contest is it.

If you couple his upbringing, his obsession with the game and work plus his business management, you have someone capable of running a major club like Tottenham, not just a football team. The first team is just the 'face' of the club, behind the scenes has to be right for the face to shine.

If you have someone with the drive, the determination that has been built into Pochettino then that is the level they expect of everyone else, they see it as lazy and that you don't care if you don't give the same as them. It tells them you don't have the same burning desire, the same winning mentality, but a weaker version of it. You do it his way or you leave, improving as a player and as a team has to be an obsession for you. Of course, there is flexibility, but the key to everything is the mentality the player shows.

I wrote in a previous article about playing pool as an example. An individual with a winning mentality plays to win, someone without plays for fun. A winner has to win. David Ginola and Hugo Lloris spoke on Spurs TV over Christmas and Ginola spoke of playing beach football. Even then a young unknown Lloris had to give his absolute best, he couldn't play for fun. You hear of players playing card games where teammates tell of a player who has to win, again he can't play for fun, winning is everything in any game where there is competition, that si what having a winning mentality is all about, winning is an obsession.

A coach has to look at players on the training field and ask, is he holding something back or is he giving me everything he has? If improvement is your genuine goal and your training proves that then Pochettino will help you achieve it, don't and he won't waste his time.

Winners don't make excuses. Do you hear a Spurs player now make excuses? I hark back to Mousa Dembele at the beginning of the season when he said not playing was down to him, that was a player changing his mentality, that was a player taking responsibility for himself and we have seen the results. Erik Lamela has done the same, Andros Townsend hasn't and Tom Carroll has yet to convince he has totally grasped what a winning mentality actually is.

Let me use Townsend as an example. You improve on the training ground (skill, tactically, teamwork, anything) and then you put that into practice in a game, not the other way around. I think some fans lose sight of that. Players are paid to train, playing is not a guarantee, you have to earn it. Townsend last played against Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League and was substituted after 81 minutes. What exactly did he do in that game that demonstrated he had improved since last season? Nothing.

He has had the same chances as everyone else, he has been training every day with the same opportunity to learn the system, the tactics and his role within those tactics. I was critical of Lamela for two seasons, two seasons where he wasn't mentally right, he didn't have the motivation to do what it took to improve. He was hiding on the field, not getting into the box, not getting into scoring positions in the way Nacer Chadli was. Now he is, now his mentality is where it should be, you can see he has totally bought into what Pochettino wants and is delivering. It has nothing to do with getting used to a league and everything to do with desire, motivation, call it what you will.

Why can't Townsend do that? Too much trouble? His outburst was like a child stamping his feet saying it's not fair. Winners don't make excuses, talent isn't enough.

You listen to the Southampton players who spoke about him and it was all how he made them stop being afraid in games and have confidence in their ability instead. That transfers to a confidence to play the system and the confidence to make your mark on a game. the Tom Carroll pass backward when under no pressure and with space to go forward smacks of not yet having that confidence to impose himself and take responsibility. It has nothing to do with his feet, his technical ability, and everything to do with his head. He could excel in a top four side if he mentally toughened up.

“We did a lot of work in groups and as individuals on the training ground, in meeting rooms and in my personal office. But always you need more time to change the habits. We talk about mentalities and changing habits. It is harder to work on. The mental process is always more slow than the physical or tactical. We know that our challenge is to change this mentality.”

It is a mentality change fans have to make too, clinging to excuses and looking backward only serves to drag down. Most people could improve their lot in life with a change of mentality, far too many want someone else to do it for them, give them everything.

Dembele bought into Pochettino and took responsibility, any new player must totally buy-in and give more than they know they have. I have slowly reached the conclusion that Saido Berahino has already done that, it would explain his frustration, anger, antics at being stuck at WBA, he clearly resents the club or chairman for it. I think we will see a totally different Berahino should he sign for Spurs.

It is open to debate whether he has a winning mentality or is just a troublemaker, hopefully, it is the frustrated former. Fragile is not good enough for Spurs now, mental strength is an absolute must, it breeds winners.

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