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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Spurs face challenges

Unbeaten since the opening day of the season, when we were playing out a draw before a Bentaleb pass gifted Manchester United an opportunity to score, Tottenham have faced many challenges.

We have had to play Liverpool immediately after they had the boost of appointing a new manager, overcome the mental block of playing two sides who have thrashed us in recent times, play Arsenal away, overcome 5,000 miles of travelling to play the Champions, had three big challenges on th trot, Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea, we have had injuries to overcome, two players until this year we were carrying, Dembele and Lamela, a Harry Kane drought, a player learning a new position, Eric Dier and more.

Challenges come big and small. As a club we have to face them and overcome them, individual players have even more challenges, Lamela and Dembele, for instance, have had to prove themselves, Dembele almost twice, one before and once after injury, Alli has had to overcome a two league jump, Alderwireld and Vertonghen fatigue. Some challenges are physical or technical, but all challenges are mental.

Challenges have to be embraced, welcomed, winners are excited by them, winners channel nerves into performance, the mentally weak are affected, either shirking away or not being able to express themselves to the best of their ability. People often talk about the Cup Final and who is going to freeze on the day, that is entirely down to a weak mind being unable to channel nerves into your performance.

I have told the story before of a Premier League cricket game which was the most nervous I had ever felt. We had little other bowling and if I failed we would have been slaughtered against a big name side. I produced, in my opinion, my best bowling of the season, arguably my best at that club, I bowled longer than ever before in sweltering heat where conditions gave me no help at all, quite the opposite in fact. 

The point is if you let nerves worry you, your performance is affected and you fail to produce. You'll be told you were unlucky, that they were just better on the day, all rubbish, it's because you were mentally weak and couldn't handle pressure. If you use those nerves to drive you, to motivate you, then you produce more, you produce your best.

Spurs players have to handle that, but it isn't natural to be that nervous every game, there has to be a reason for the nerves. A coach can 'sell' a game to players in a particular way. Three Premier League points may not motivate some people, link it to the end aim each game, a league title and you have a driving force, especially if your side is totally focussed on achieving what nobody else thinks is possible. 

It may be that you 'sell' particular games, Arsenal sells itself, there is a multitude of reason to use for the West Ham game, Chelsea is easy to motivate for, Southampton is easy with the Pochettinio link, any player playing an old side you rally the players around to produce a performance for a teammate.

You can use an unbeaten run, or the press is against us, siege mentality, something Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho consistently use and used. Our upcoming fixture present different challenges.

West Brom (A)
Newcastle (H)
Southampton (A)
Norwich (H)
Watford (A)
Everton (A)
Leicester (H)

You would suggest all are winnable and taken individually they are. For WBA we can use the Berahino factor as motivation, also 14 games is our longest unbeaten in the top-flight run since 1985, the kudos factor. The there is te factor of everyone expecting us to trip up against a relegation side or not being able to sustain a winning run. There is not losing to Etienne Capoue (Watford) having got rid of him or Arron Lennon (Everton).

Whatever motivation we use, challenges are a positive, they are an essential to success that we have to continually overcome. Winning doesn't happen by accident, it happens because of a burning desire for it to happen, the coach has to continually ignite that burning desire. Knowing what makes your players tick helps you dig into their motivation as opposed to the team motivation. Being a coach isn't simply telling your side how you want them to play football, couple that with motivation and you have potential achievers.


Further Tottenham Reading
The Townsend U-21 debate
Dembele type not a January signing - striker turned midfielder looks more of a summer signing
Stats suggest Spurs will finish above Chelsea - Chelsea will not make the top 4
Shots leading the league - a look at shooting, Spurs are the most accurate team in the league and Harry Kane the most accurate striker
Lloris: A punching analysis - link to an excellent article that reveals Lloris punches more than any other keeper in the top 5 European leagues


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