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Friday, 19 February 2016

Stevens: Pochettino fostered a work ethic that is second to none

Stevens: Pochettino fostered a work ethic that is second to none

Tottenham Hotspur are chasing our first Premier League title since 1961 when it was known as the First Division, the top tier of English football back then. That is, of course, the year we achieved the impossible double, the first team that century to do so. Others then followed in our footsteps. Like the impossible four-minute mile, when it was shown to be possible others broke it having had the 'it's impossible' mental barrier removed. 

Former Spurs' and England star Gary Stevens sees parallels between this 2016 side and the 1985 team he was a part of. They went close finishing third, but in fairness were quite a way behind winners Everton. Now Stevens is an Asia-based coach and he spoke recently with ESPN.

"We were in an almost identical situation. Coming into the last third of the season, sitting in second, playing great football, defending well and scoring goals, with a talented squad of confident players. Although the team went to Anfield and won, many Spurs followers of that time blame the team's decline in the last two months of the season on my absence."

Tottenham, who had 
won the previous season's UEFA Cup, had closed the gap at the top of the table to the same two points it is now. This was on March 2 and Everton were at the top. Unfortunately, 10 days later Stevens was injured and played no further part in the season. Spurs also lost to Manchester United at home and in the end, we finished a distant 13 points adrift.


Stevens does television punditry work for Astro SuperSport in Malaysia and was naturally in the studio last weekend for the Manchester City victory. The press have seen that as an acceptance that Spurs are genuine title contenders now, having finally caught up with those who could see what was happening at Spurs. Belief remember comes before success, not the other way around. 

Former players like Paul Scholes Andy Townsend and Michael Owen didn't rate the Spurs squad, they didn't think they were good enough to get into the top four and even felt they might struggle to get a UEFA Europa League place. That simply shows the mentality of the Northern Hemisphere players were everything is individually based. Creating a system and working the system as a team seems an alien concept to them. 

Far too many people working in the media simply trot out the same tired bland view without actually looking under the surface. Michael Owen didn't even rate Harry Kane, just a good all round striker. His scoring record says differently. Like many of us though, Stevens recognises what Pochettino in bringing to Tottenham and feels he is getting the best out of the squad. 

"Pochettino has fostered a togetherness and built a work ethic that is second to none in the Premier League. The team is well drilled to the extent that every player knows his role yet they have a level of freedom that allows them to express themselves. 
"Our 1985 team also had that mix of experience and characters that blended well. We knew our respective roles and what we were each capable of. 
"The current Spurs side is certainly capable of competing into the latter stages of the Europa League, but I am not sure if it will help their league ambitions because of the additional workload of travelling abroad and two games per round. 
"I can't say with certainty that Spurs will win the league, but they can do it. They have all the components required, as do all of the current top four clubs. The winning team will need to stay clear of injuries and suspensions to key players. Lady Luck will undoubtedly play her part."

Pochettino would say you make your own luck and stack the odds in your favour as much as you can by using modern injury prevention techniques. However, in sport anything can happen at any time, so fingers crossed.



COYS

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