Monday, 21 April 2014

Part 4 - Spurs need to assess players better

Spurs Need To Go Mental - Part 4

In Part 3 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I suggested that a few of our players needed to learn from Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb by being mentally strong enough to take a chance when it is offered to them and not expects the charity of a run of games before they deign to produce the goods.

In Part 4 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I'm taking a look at transfer targets and the need to make a complete a mental assessment of them before you spend millions of pounds.

Would a big company spend millions without looking into every aspect of the purchase? No, so why do football clubs?

In business if you are going to spend millions of pounds, you make every assessment possible before you commit to spending, yet in football you simply take a gamble, you do half the homework and guess on the rest. Quite frankly it's a crazy approach and it's no wonder it is wrong on so many occasions.

A huge problem with footballers nowadays, although they wouldn't think so, is that they are paid too much. They have everything they need at an early age and that takes away hunger and desire for most of them.

They can simply stay in their comfort zone, work hard and get to a decent level. Those that stand out, those that become true stars, those that have the mental make up of winners are those that live and breath football 100%.

They live it, they breath it because it is their life, their passion, not just a job. They are the ones who give everything for the cause, who train as hard as they can, for whom winning and being the best they can be is all that matters.

These people rise above the crowd, the rise above other equally talented footballers because they understand the importance of every single game, every game is a big game not just the games against the bigger teams. The rest just make up the numbers, they will be the nearly men, talented but missing that one vital ingredient to take them to a top club and win trophies.

You can tell these lesser players about mentality and one or two will take it on board and improve but for the rest you are wasting your time. If they don't believe in something then they can't put it into action, they can't make it happen. Taking on board something new to them requires an open mind, without it they will learn nothing.

How many players have Spurs had who were happy to just take the money, who didn't want to move, that quite frankly tells you everything you need to know about them, that tells you they are losers, not winners. But why have we bought so many of them, who is assessing them prior to purchase?

If it is being left to a scout or a coach who rarely actually gets to see them first hand that is insane. It is an area where we need to make massive improvements and we can if we employ a Sports Psychologist to undertake the task. If we can hone this skill, we won't keep buying duds, we will buy more winners and more winners mean we will win more.

The manager doesn't know a players mental approach until he sees him day to day training but by then it's too late, we have already bought him. Somebody involved in the assessment of transfer targets should be studying video after video of them and putting together a complete mental picture of the player.

They only need a piece of software that will isolate everything that player does in a game which can be done at a touch of a button. Your specialist then studies these results and notes down everything the player does, not just in one game but a whole range of them.

How many times is the player walking around, how many times are his hands on his hips, how many times is he faking injury, how many times does he not put everything into a tackle, how many times does he moan to the ref when he feels hard done by, this list goes on. It is those things that need to be studied to determine his mental strength, his mental character.

That way you start to build up a picture of the player and the person. Preparation is the key to success the saying goes, well to have a successful purchase you need to do all the preparation, not just the football but the mental side as well. It is more important than the football side and not enough importance is attached to it, certainly our current crop of mediocrity would suggest that.

You will have already watched the target and assessed his football skills so you'll know all about his technique and the positives he has but it's the negatives you want to know, it's his attitude you want to know. Does he only put it in in the big games or all games?

Players at Tottenham are upset because Tim Sherwood can see it, he can see the difference between winners and losers. He points out those with the wrong mentality and that hurts their pride, they don't like being told the truth so whine, moan, complain to the press, when they should be saying, OK I'd better do something about it, I'd better show him he's wrong.

he has dealt in Youth Development, he can see which young players have the right mental approach and which don't and now having transferred that knowledge to the first team squad he has upset a few of them with a few home truths.

A winner will take on board what he says and continue to improve himself every day, a loser will moan about it and shout a defence to try and justify himself.

Recent Posts - The Spurs Need To Go Mental Series
Part 3 - Spurs players should learn from Harry Kane
Part 2 - The mental shift Spurs must make to be successful
Part 1 - Spurs need to go mental

Also - Disaster for Tottenham
Video of striker target, former Liverpool star Dean Saunders son

Near the end of the Fulham game there was a heated altercation between coach Tony Parks and Danny Rose. What is was about is irrelevant, but it demonstrates an attitude, an attitude of don't criticise me, I have not done anything wrong and that either stems from a guilty conscience or a weak mentality.

It shouts loud and clear of a player who can't channel his focus, can't stay in control, who will get frustrated, who will then lose concentration and therefore make mistakes. And quite frankly that is Danny Rose in a nutshell, he is a mid table player who will always be so unless he can change his mental approach.

The game against Fulham once again highlighted our usual poor mental approach. Yet again a slow start, not a lot happening and then we get a free kick. Christian Eriksen mentally switches on and delivers a sublime cross with pace and curve for the simplest goal Paulinho will ever score. Less than 2 minutes later it is 1-1.

Who missed the tackle in midfield which led to them then running at our defence and scoring? Paulinho.

I wrote about his mental problem when he came out and said he was too lazy to learn English. If you remember I said if he is lazy in one area he will be lazy in other areas, it's a part of his character and it's a part holding him back.

You will see a different Paulinho at World Cup because that will matter to him, they he will see as big games. Too many games he doesn't see as big. Switching off after a goal is a mental cardinal sin. He  made the mistake, he put the team under pressure and while there were other errors his is the initial one.

One goal for one goal against.

Now it might be that World Cup year is distorting things because regardless of what fans think the player believe the World Cup is the ultimate for any player. We all know the affect the Premier League is said to have on players, although it doesn't seem to affect foreign players as much as it does English players if you take the word of commentators.

Some players may have an eye on the World Cup, some players may be saving themselves with little to play for and once it has passed they may re-tune their mind to club football.

That still calls into question their mental approach but it may mean we have better players mentally than they are showing us at the moment, but then again that could be just an excuse.

What without doubt is essential is that before any more purchases we must conduct a thorough assessment of their mental make up.

Take someone like Gary Neville. Not a sublimely talented footballer but one with the mental make up of a winner.

He is England's most capped right-back ever playing under 5 different managers and won a whole host of honours with Manchester United, 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cup wins, 2 League Cup wins, 3 Charity Shield wins, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 club World Cup.

Do you think he was carried to those 20 successes by his teammates or do you think he had the right mental make up to live and breath the game, to be the best he could be.

If Tottenham had a team with the mental approach of Gary Neville we would win the league without question, but we don't. The players we get who do have that mental approach leave because there simply aren't enough players with the same approach around them. If there were they would still be at the club because the club would have grown.

In Part 9 I will run through a check list of what a Sports Psychologist would be looking at when they watch a player to assess him mentally. That probably comes out on Sunday or Monday evening.

There is a new article coming out at 8.30 each evening this week so by our next game you might be doing your own mental assessment of our players.

Do Spurs leave it to a coach to assess a player mentally, do they assess a player mentally, surely they should employ a Sports Psychologist to run the rule over a particular player through video tapes and then first hand. We could then buy the complete player and not the partial one we do buy.

For me it would be money well spent.

In Part 5 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series tomorrow night I will take a look at Gareth Bale and our current crop of midfield players.

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