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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Spurs need sports psychologists to change the clubs mentality

My coaching background has had me talking about mentality for several years now, a boring topic to the average fan who, to be frank, is clueless about it.

I remember citing the example of a game of pool where someone with a winning mentality will play to win, but someone without will play for fun. To someone with a winning mentality, winning is the fun. If you win you feel you have enjoyed the game, if you lose you haven't enjoyed it.

That feeling is at the heart of all sport, that mentality is what separates the winning from the nearly men. Spurs at the minute have made strides with mentality, but as I have remarked before, it is not just the players who need a mentality shift, everyone in the club does and sports psychologists should be leading that improvement.

Hugo Lloris and Mauricio Pochettino have both commented on our mentality, Gary Neville has commented on our mentality and now Jamie Carragher has brought the subject up on Sky Sports.

“I was so disappointed with Spurs. It was going back to a Spurs performance you’d see 10 or 15 years ago. That’s not Pochettino and it’s not this Spurs team. 
“The reason I’m highlighting this is I’m a massive fan of that manager, that team. They can’t be remembered over the next 18 months, two years, as a team who didn’t win anything. I’ve seen it too often with Spurs, they fail to turn up in big games, maybe going back 20 years. 
“Is it a belief thing? Is it a mentality thing, ingrained in the club? 
“If that doesn’t change, they are going to become like Leeds. Fantastic Leeds, got to the semi-final of the European Cup – so what? They didn’t win anything. 
“At the end of their time at Tottenham – maybe in 10 years’ time, maybe in two years, I don’t know – you want to be able to say ‘I’ve won that’. 
“Show us your medals. If they don’t win big games, they’re never going to get there. I’m not questioning them for not winning the league or the Champions League, but go and win an FA Cup, go and win the Europa League. 
“They should be the best team in the Europa League, the players they’ve got now, but if they don’t win big games and change these stats, they’ll never win anything.”

To me, part of our problem is we still need to improve our mental analysis of an individual before we buy a player and secondly we should stop playing not to lose in big games, instead, we should be playing to win from the outset.

I highlighted our first half performances recently and that of the top teams we sat at the bottom of the pile. Away from home, we play to keep the score at 0-0 it seems, not a tactic I believe is acceptable. It smacks of fear, of weakness. When have we come out away from home and dominated from the start?

That comes through the right motivation before the game. It is a personal internal thing, external motivation is short-lived, internal motivation lasts if topped up. I still feel it is an area we need to become leaders in. It doesn't cost much to have players see a sports psychologist for 15 minutes a day or a week, on a one-to-one basis.

Who cares if it isn't the norm, that's exactly why we should be innovating and performances like the Liverpool one at Anfield, against Bayer Leverkusen or Chelsea at Stamford Bridge show there is a problem that needs fixing.

Spurs have some of the best infrastructure in the world, a fantastic new training facility, soon a fantastic new stadium, the next big area we have to build world class infrastructure is sports psychology, developing a winning mentality throughout the club, whether it be from Hugo Lloris to the member of staff who washes the kit or prepares the meals or cleans the floors.

I read an article from a former Middlesbrough player who had to keep the fact secret that he used a sports psychologist to improve his game, he couldn't let the club know. Is that still the case today? 

Sport and exercise psychologists are concerned with the behaviours, mental processes and well-being of individuals, teams and organisations involved in sport.

If a club chairman or a club manager doesn't embrace psychology then the players are not really going to be subjected to it in the manner in which they should be. Erik Lamela would not be having the problems he had when he arrived or is having now if he were working regularly with a sports psychologist. A non-qualified former player can only do so much working on players mentally and he isn't going to alter the mentality of the general club staff either.

Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino have got to get their heads together and embrace the expertise out there to develop this club into world leaders in more than just buildings.


  1. This is the biggest over reaction I have seen for ages. Before this season the gaffer has already said he is well advanced in the process of making us a club to challenge for big big things I believe he actually said he is two years ahead of schedule. As for the mentality that will come as we win things. The amount of blogs you do if you just look at the gaffers quotes and press conferences you will see this of do you just publish the blogs and forget what was said before.

  2. I agree the club has made huge strides in the last few years, but Spurs have had a problem with a defeatist mentality for a very long time now, and it stills appears despite the improvements made, especially in important games against good sides.

  3. I disagree also. I think that the young squad that has been almost completely mulled over in the past three years doesn't necessary carry the burden of their predecessors. Instead the team has shown great resilience this early on in the project. The group is young and was punching above their weight in the curious circumstances of last season, not to mention how lucky they were with the injuries.

    The loss at Anfield was a disheartening one because of the tactics that were deployed. Had Spurs played for 0–0 they probably could have had it a half-time. Instead they tried to play their own game and take the fight to the opponent, which was naive given the history of the fixture, the quality of the opposition and the weakened starting line-up.

  4. Several things.

    Is playing Wimmer in a 3-4-2-1 really that Tribble. Hard to see how out could have been worse.

    Sissoko just took all walkers space. Wiser than useless on the right. So why did poch out him there?

    Dembele is incredibly strong and fun to watch but does nothing with the ball.

    Wanyamas and demented are strong defensively but have zero forward padding ability. If rather try winks with one of them. All three is to defensive

    We have no replacement for eriksen



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