February 13, 2010

Spurs’ bouncebackability and mental strength

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Looking at league games only:

In the fourteen league games where we’ve scored the first goal, we have won eleven times, drawn twice (Everton A and Birmingham A), and lost once (Man Utd H).

In the nine league games where we haven’t scored the first goal, we have won only once (West Ham A), drawn twice (Bolton Wanderers A – where we were behind twice, and Aston Villa A), and lost six times.

This tells us quite a lot – in short, when we go ahead, we are likely to win. When we go behind, we struggle to get back into games. Not exactly rocket science.

Why is this the case?

When we go ahead, you can often see our players suddenly start to play flowing football with confidence, and we will often rattle up the goals – for example, against Hull, Burnley, Wigan, even Man City. We have a high number of “confidence” players, who shine when we’re doing well as a team.

A number of possible reasons why we don’t “come back” too often:

  • We don’t have many “older heads” in our team – players who have been there and done it, and have the drive and determination that others can see and replicate.
  • We don’t have many natural leaders – the few players that do the talking/organising on the pitch (Dawson, Keane, Jenas…) aren’t ideal captain material for various reasons (except arguably Dawson). Even the preferred captain, King, isn’t much of a talker or motivator – he tends to lead by example.
  • Teams go ahead and put men behind the ball; we don’t seem to be able to cope against teams like this. If you watch Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal – they tend to camp in opponents’ halves against these type of tactics, and pile on the pressure until something gives. We seem unable to do this. Instead, we usually resort to balls of little quality being drifted into the box from deep areas, which are then very hard to direct goal-wards. The key is often to get the full-backs involved higher up the pitch, and to try to get in behind teams.
  • Negative/limited tactics? Sometimes Redknapp has been known to bring on, for example, Hutton for Corluka when we’re searching for a goal. This is hardly a tactical masterstroke, is it? One positive from Ramos’ regime was that he would take off a centre back and put on a striker, and it would often work. Why not? Sometimes you have to force the issue and take a risk.

I would personally like to see us go for an experienced central midfielder in the summer – someone who knows what it’s like to win important games, and has the desire it takes. I realise there aren’t too many of these players around who would be available and would want to come to Spurs, but even if they aren’t a first team regular, they could be useful to have on the bench – even someone coming towards the end of their career (like Ballack or Scholes) could have the right mentality to pass on to other players.

I would also like us to sign a striker that can ruffle feathers; when you watch Rooney, Drogba, or even someone of lesser ability like Tevez, you can see why defenders hate playing against them. They will trouble defenders for 90 minutes – keep them on their toes, and keep pressing. We really lack this type of striker in my opinion. I remember seeing Ricardo Fuller, for example, cause our defence all sorts of problems at White Hart Lane earlier in the season – I’m not saying we should sign him, as we should clearly aim higher, but it’s important to have a player in the final third that can do this. I’ve always been impressed with Dieumerci Mbokani of Standard, and wonder whether he’s worth a gamble.

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  • Anonymous says:

    I think youre spot on – I appreciate we cant have Rooney or Drogba – but there are plenty of players around who can do that type of job (Wolves striker was pretty good the other night).
    Our biggest failing in the window (apart from a keeper) was that we still havent addressed our lack of a midfield general/potential captain. Of course we wont get a Gerrard but we have been missing this type of player since Davids left (and to an extent Carrick). During that time we might have been able to sign players like Parker, Cana, Cattermole, Fellaini, Diarra, etc – I’m not saying they are all perfect players (although I’d rather see any of them in the team than Jenas), but they have all changed club or at least been available in the last couple of years – these are the only ones I can think of but there must be more out there.

  • JimmyG2 says:

    Its not a lack of experience because every one of our regular players is a full International except Michael Dawson who ironically is tipped for captain.
    Youth is a problem but mostly lack of assertiveness.Also some of our experienced players are from overseas, Modric, Corluka, Kranjcar, Gomes,Palacios, and may have language or settling in problems.
    Carrick was a Ledley type player, example only, I feel.
    Our two most experienced players Woodgate, who would have been ideal but Keane was wrongly preferred to him, and Ledley are not regulars for different reasons.
    Not an easily solved problem.

  • Anonymous says:

    nice blog and interesting stats about us when we go behind and the team or the gaffer cant get us up four it…trouble wiv spurs is we play football..nice flowing attacking football.. aint that spurs philosophy…win wiv flair? the type of players we buy are mostly flair players..our 2 hardest players are ledders and woody n wivout them we is a bit lighweight..would like to see spurs developing some young players and turning them into the one or two hard players we aint got in abundance..

  • Anonymous says:

    Football, like many other games is about trying to impose your game on the adversary and/or frustrating their game plan ( the latter especially when you are too weak to impose your game ). Ours is a fast open passing style which can be very effective but Stoke showed the way for others to follow – close us down fast to prevent us getting into our stride and sit 10 players deep and try and hit us on the counter attack.I don’t think that unlike the top 3 we don’t camp in their half ( I think we have in some games ) but more that we lack the penetration in the final third – especially without Lennon! ( Actually, I think the reason Corluka was substituted for Hutton against Liverpool was because Hutton is better at getting forward – Bentley would have been an option but he wasn’t even on the bench ).
    Otherwise, I agree on a new attacker ( I think Crouch is limited ) and a new midfield dynamo except that it’s a bit premature.Our ability to attract the best players depends on where we finish & so the immediate task is getting the best out of what we’ve got.I suggest giving Pav a run, getting BAE & Lennon back and giving Bale a more forward role + hopefully GudJohnson will add something.
    Oh and I think Harry needs to redisciver the inspirational touch he had when he first arrived if we’re to egt top 4!

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