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.