To Dare Is To Know
I’m writing this as I awoke on this bank holiday Monday with two things on my mind; 1) How the hell did R Madrid stop me winning 230 much needed pounds when they had so many chances in front of goal? And 2) Spurs. More to the point, Wembley.
The elephant in the room, in this case IS the room. And its a big room. With lots of space for thoughts and feelings. This is the topic I wanted to talk about and why I’m writing this. You see thoughts lead to feelings. If your brain reacts to what it sees as something that it likes, chances are you will feel good, maybe even happy. However reverse that and you will of course feel angry or annoyed. I know I know this is basic psychology. When Kane smacks in his 3rd hatrick in 3 weeks we are elated. When he can’t score in August?.....yeah. That.
But you see what I did there? I confirmed something that no one had even thought about at the start of the season. In our first game he hit the post and suddenly some voices from within the media, whilst (call me cynical) rubbing their hands together, realised 'Oh would you look at that...Harry Kane hasn’t scored in August before. OOooo.'
So after the Newcastle game more murmurings occurred from around football's gossip columnists and radio 'experts'. 'KANE'S NOT SCORED IN AUGUST BEFORE!' They confirmed. This after the 'DANNY ROSE GETS HEROES RETURN WELCOME!' and 'SPURS IN CRISIS!' stories had dried up.
And so we moved onto Chelsea. Now, whether Harry was listening to this rubbish or not, on another day, he would of buried that shot past Courtois instead of hitting the post again.
Another day. Another day when we would, say, turn up at White Hart Lane with that newly found feeling of recent seasons of knowing we would win. Another day say like...last season. Chelsea came with their full side. They hardly had a sniff on our goal all game.
I’ve never been as comfortable or relaxed watching us as I was for that game. We had to win. They weren’t going to get that longest win record at OUR ground in our last season there. In fact that’s another point to add to this; we as a club all collectively decided we wouldn’t lose a game all season. Look what happened.
You see collective thinking can be a very strong power. It's not even just thinking. It's knowing.
I can't stress this enough. If you look back at great sporting teams of the past they always had a collective fan base that once they started to believe, they then went about their day enjoying it as if it was inevitable, like they were going to win whatever they were going for. Bar the occurrences of madness that change the course of everything like say Aguero's last minute winner to clinch the league a few years back. Utd were nailed on to clinch it but even with that there was the belief from City and its fans that even up to the last second that this was THEIR moment and they would do it. From all the fans and people watching to the players and managers themselves.
This collective belief is what Pochettino has brought to our club again and I fear we are going to let it slip this season due to us already deciding that Wembley is awful as our home stadium.
This, I do agree with mainly because the stadium is made up of red seats and it takes an age to get out of the stadium to the train. However, I and we have to change our mind-set. As do the players and everyone involved with the club.
I'm sure Poch and his team are working on this with the players. It's times like these that players with the arrogance of say Danny Rose could play a massive part to our season. There is serious power in doubt and serious power in confidence or the right kind of arrogance.
Let me give you some examples.
Last season, when Chelsea got that free kick at Wembley, I was standing behind that goal. I can tell you now nearly 70%+ of the 40k+ Spurs fans thought that he would score. He also probably had the belief that he KNEW he was going to as did Hugo probably had enough doubt to a smaller but similar degree. Willian Scored. Of course he did. We knew he would.
Fast forward to this seasons opener. Nearly exactly the same position. I would probably be safe in saying that now 85-90% of the 70k Spurs fans KNEW he was going to score. This may of included some of our own players. Willian didn't this time but the player next to him did. Alonso must of been even more confident to take that off Willian after last season. It was an annoyingly good tactic which surprised everyone and thus they annoyingly scored. They also, in both games, scored with minimal chances. As if each time they went forward the stadium suspected and half expected they would score. Which they did.
Just like at the Lane when, say under Harry or AVB, we needed to win to go up to the next level in the league and our game was against a Hull or a Wolves or a Newcastle (with Tim Krul) we would have a right go at teams but if we didn't score in the first 30minutes? The mood would start to change and doubt would start to creep in. The longer it crept in...we started to think and say 'we're not going to win this' or even 'we're going to lose this.' The players would pick up on this and 8 times out of 10 we would mess up with last minute equalisers and or even winners for the opposing team despite dominating for the most part.
Other examples. Some you will like some you will not;
2001 Spurs 3-0 up at the Lane at half time against Man Utd. Us Spurs fans couldn't believe it such was quality of the Utd team. When they came out after half time how many spurs fans (and probably a percentage of players/staff) JOINED the Utd players and fans in KNOWING that if Utd got an early goal, then they would go on to win it. Which as we know (or for the sake of younger fans) they did exactly that. We lost that game 5-3. I remember being there, crushed but also looking around and seeing other faces with the same expression on their face as to say 'Knew that would happen.'
Now I’m not suggesting it's as simple of just thinking positively. We need the players to show us something so that we can then believe and KNOW Wembley won't be a problem. In fact, it could become our fortress for the season. I predict our away form has to and will be immaculate this season such is the spirit from our fans and even more so because we won't have the pressure of Wembley hanging over the players heads.
But we need to change that thinking and should apply this together with the players and staff. There is as much power in doubt and fear as there is in our hopes and dreams. When Arsenal have turned up at the Lane the last, however many seasons now, we KNOW, now more so than ever before, that they won't beat us. But we still let it slip into our fears (probably still being scarred from mid 90's-00's seasons) that they will equalise towards the end when there is only one goal in it.
It then takes great strength from individuals to break through this and KNOW they are going to be the difference Ala Sanchez equalising to make it 2-2 or Kane's header to win it 2-1. The belief from these players is what makes them so special and highly valued. Yes its about ability but its their attitude and belief that they are the difference they KNOW they can change things and that is what makes them so sort after.
To use another example and one of the power of collective thoughts and feelings in a stadium similar to Wembley, I come back to Man Utd again (sorry).
When they had Fergie there it didn't matter what players he put out. In fact they won the premier league last with what was on paper, actually a pretty mediocre looking team. But they all knew they could do it. They had the belief that together they would win the league. This was down to Fergie and his/their collective mind-set along with fans. Tactically Fergie was astute but I think it was more about the mentality of the players AND 75k fans KNOWING each week they would win. Even if that meant doing it in their own created time that the officials went along with knowingly or not.
Fast forward to Fergie leaving and the appointment of 'The chosen one' David Moyes. Now, the mentality changed within the club and stadium. There were no longer 75k fans KNOWING they would win. Of course they HOPED they would win. But if that hope isn't answered by either a bit of luck or a player knowing they will do it. Then you'll keep on hoping and on the other side of that hope is fear. As the hope goes down, the fear increases.
Now, take the other teams and fans now going to Old Trafford who, for years, had been intimidated and (as us spurs fans very well know) robbed of points at OT via dodgy decisions that the ref and officials felt compelled to give, again whether knowingly or unknowingly.
But now with Fergie gone and the uncertainty in the Old Trafford air, teams now BELIEVED that they would go there and if not win then give them a good run for their billions. Swansea went and won there as did West Brom, Everton, Newcastle, Liverpool and City. Also the officials no longer seemed compelled to give any bias decisions. In fact free of the power that stadium can have they now made decisions against them. Much to the shock of their overly indulged fans.
Even Spurs under Sherwood went up there and won. The fear for away teams had well and truly gone. Yes not buying the players Moyes wanted was blamed and the whole transition of the club and squad. But the biggest transition was that from knowing they would win with whichever players to now being very unsure of what Fergie had left them. They were now hardly winning at all at home. The doubt of initially 25-35k Utd fans quickly rose to 65k+ now deciding Moyes wasn’t going to do it for them.
They played some good football still and in some games had chance after chance on goal to a baying Old Trafford crowd, spoilt by the last 25 odd years of winning. And so alas it went the way of knowing thoughts and feelings and Moyes was sacked.
Lets take another example and one we as Spurs fans will prefer: Gareth Bale.
Also lets combine with the point about OT. Spurs hadn't won at Old Trafford with Fergie in charge for 20 odd years until we went up there with AVB, Bale and co. Now say what you want about AVB being boring but he had a belief in himself and this rubbed off on some players (not all). Players need to believe. Bale took the game by the neck with an expectant Utd crowd and manager...and he turned the whole place on its head. Along with the team Bale's drive and determination couldn't be stopped. Even with each goal Utd scored to try and get back into it. We scored another.
Gareth Bale's greatest strength was for us his tenacity.
I, as do many spurs fans, remember countless games when (after he started to believe) he decided he wasn't going to accept us drawing or losing HE was going to do something about it. He KNEW he could and would. And once he showed it against Inter Milan away, the world started paying attention. This kid was special. We may have lost 4-3 but anyone watching that game knew that had it gone on for even 5 more minutes we would of secured an amazing comeback against the then Champions of Europe. Countless games he turned things around like say even when we were losing at Arsenal with 10 men (Adebayor sent off early)... Bale still believed. And there were some nervous Arsenal fans that day I can tell you right until the final whistle. Bale never gave up on a game. The other more well know example was our amazing 3-2 win at the emirates. Again once the players started to believe they then went on to know they could do it.
When Inter Milan came to The Lane that same CL season? Everyone KNEW Bale was going to rip them and Maicon apart from the start to the end. He did. We won.
Too many times Harry Redknapp would make excuses before a big game. 'They’ve spent this much' or 'it’s going to be very difficult today.' Yet Harry’s biggest strength was getting players to believe in themselves and less about tactics but to go out there and play football. Enjoy it. Now this works when the players believe. Look at Van Der Vaart who it had been decided by Madrid’s fans he wasn’t a Madrid player. But felt instantly at home at Spurs. We knew he was special. Harry got the best out of Adebayor as did Sherwood. They and Ade KNEW he would cause problems to the opposition defence but you had to let him train and play how he wanted. Avb and Poch KNEW this but that he was a problem full stop.
Harry had players like Modric and Lennon. They KNEW what they wanted to do in a game and time after time they usually did it. Except maybe Lennon's crossing. We all KNEW that it was his weakness. And so it remained. He was only able to break thru that thought on occasion so we may of then thought 'Oh maybe he's worked on it and fixed things.' The next bad cross would come and 'Ah nope. He hasn't.' We decided. That must be the hardest thing for a player to deal with. Breaking through the barrier of the decided thoughts about their faults from a weekly crowd of thousands and replacing them and themselves with belief and knowledge that they had changed.
Lets go back a bit further; Edgar Davids. He KNEW what he would do. even if a touch chaotic at times we needed this kind of player for a long time and he brought much needed steel to our midfield. Along with Carrick, Keane, Berbatov and co, this brought us back to competing with the very top end of the table. Jol and his boys brought belief and European nights back to Spurs and the fans. We were competing again. We went into each game all (including opposition) now KNOWING we were going to be a handful to deal with. Something in Stalteri decided he was going to run forward and be needed to go and get that goal against West Ham. He Knew.
Too much doubt is a powerful force. We need something from the club, a nice flare signing can help lift the mood and change our mind-set into thinking 'now we're going to win.' This is helpful as to whatever it is that gets us to adjust our current thinking and know things have changed, the better. We need a commitment from the players (cheer up Danny, we and you need YOU back to your best) and we need the continued support from the fans. Cheering. Not moaning and deciding we're done. I know that last one is tricky for fans who watched us during the aptly named Pony years.
This combined energy can create the knowing of it will be okay at Wembley. We can ignore the ongoing media rubbish. We have for decades and don't let it become YOUR knowledge and narrative. As far as we as fans are concerned we KNOW we can seriously compete with any team. Lets KNOW that we will now beat whoever home and away. Wherever we play.
The Real Mr B.