Date: 20th September 2019 at 7:30pm
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Where does logic fit into the concept of a ‘losing mentality? Tottenham Hotspur lost the Champions League final and some supporters, pundits, and media outlets blamed this on the club having a losing mentality.

The fact that Spurs were one of only two clubs to reach the final, in a competition that included all of the best teams in Europe, is more indicative of a winning mentality to me. The fact that Spurs have finished in the top four of the most competitive league in Europe for the last four seasons, winning many, many more games than they have lost, seems to indicate the opposite of a ‘losing mentality’. Maybe I’m missing something?

If any club wins four or five games in a cup competition before being eliminated do we define that as having a losing mentality…really? If that’s the case it defines virtually every team that plays football. So, do all the mistakes each one of us have made in our lives mean we all have a losing mentality? We have all made mistakes. We have all failed at something. We have all got some things wrong. We are all human. Would we be happy with such an assessment?

I suppose some supporters would argue that not actually winning a competition, and the silverware that goes with it, is indicative of some kind of warped mentality. All the games won in the league, or before elimination in a cup, don’t count. Well, good luck with that thinking because logic just headed for the hills.

How do you even measure a losing mentality?

It seems more like a vague, throw-away line that sounds good but means nothing. One thing I am certain of is that if there was a scale devised to measure such a concept as a winning or losing mentality, THFC would be a long way from the losing end. Maybe a simple mathematical formula where the number of games lost is compared to the number of games played. Too simple? Too obvious? Too hard to consider? Maybe…but certainly more accurate than a throw-away line. But wait…of course we already have that formula; it’s called the League Table. Do some people fail to study it with any degree of understanding before suggesting a particular kind of mentality.

Spurs drew two recent games from having a two goal lead…I wonder why no-one has ever suggested Tottenham have a drawing mentality. Now I know this will confuse a lot of people but the reason for drawing these games is that we did not defend well! Isn’t it weird how football works.

No club loses games because of a losing mentality. Clubs lose games because they were not good enough on the day, or because the other team was better on the day, or because the manager got the team selection or tactics wrong, or because of poor officiating, or because of injuries, or because the stars were not aligned properly…or, or, etc. There are any number of reasons why a football team loses a football game but a team going onto the pitch with the intention of losing is not one of them. Just as none of us intended to make the mistakes we have made during our lives.

To say THFC has a losing mentality does not help anyone. There is no constructive criticism in such a comment. But to point out tactical errors, or a player’s loss of form or confidence, or the need to change the starting line-up, etc, is constructive and, more than that, it makes sense. And that is the beauty of ‘Vital Spurs’. It gives us all the opportunity to offer constructive criticism. And we do.

Just thinking out loud! Gotta love football!

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27 Replies to “Do Tottenham Have A ‘Losing Mentality’?”

  • Is not having a ‘losing mentality’ the same thing as having a ‘winning’ one? The 2015 League Cup and 2017 FA Cup semi defeats against Chelsea, the 2018 FA Cup semi loss to United, and, obviously, the supine CL Final performance against Liverpool (plus the collapse in the home straight of the 2016 ‘two-horse race’ against Leicester) show that we don’t have what it takes to get over the line, and no amount of logic or analysis will counter that fact (because that’s what it is, until we actually WIN something, under Pochettino or whoever).

  • I’m not sure there is a winning or losing mentality, but I am sure there is a winning or losing ‘ability’. Surely it’s the ability that has stopped Spurs winning trophies …. but the basic football target of winning games counts too.

  • I think the term ‘losing mentality’ itself is just a broad description that covers a number of possible reasons for not being able to get over the line in particular game scenarios. I don’t think its literal interpretation is meant by anyone who uses it, I don’t think any side ever goes out thinking they are going to lose a match before it has started.

    In the Spursy instance it seems to me it refers to our apparent inability in recent years to find a winning performance in high pressure games such as semi’s and finals of competitions. I don’t think this has generally been due to a lack of individual and collective ability so it must be down to either poor tactics or a lack of mental strength and/or confidence to overcome the opposition.

  • Its really about a lack of consistency, poor against Newcastle, brilliant against Palace, poor again in Europe. What you want is a team that has the same attitude every time it goes on the field. They may lose because they are unlucky or the opposition are just too good. They never lose because they just don’t try hard enough. That’s really what a winning mentality is and at the moment we don’t have it.

  • Geofspurs…..thanks for a debatable article to get all thinking.

    Losing mentality, nobody in life, though making numerous mistakes has a losing mentality it is just a loose statement! you use the word “ability” I think that is a nearer description, I believe the word “ability” whether its used individually or in the collective, team wise, in sport is the not just the skill, ability, but the mental prowess side.

    Win/good or lose/poor on the day just does not cover everything, “luck” comes in strongly and really has a lot to say esp’ in a team game, regards luck you can make your own. COYS

  • With a result like today’s I’m afraid to write a comment as people will think it is Frank rather than I doing the writing.

  • Do we have a losing mentality. Absolutely and it’s getting worse. Poch has no idea how to turn it around and the players seem unable to. This is the end of an era at Spurs. Back to mid table mediocrity

  • I must begrudgingly admit that I am beginning to think that an era is coming to an end, so thank you Spurs for the last couple of years and back to the drawing board we go, I hope this post is just in anger and that they /Spurs go on to prove me wrong, suppose I will just have to wait and see as I always do. COYS

  • I’ve had the same feeling as a lot of spurs supporters that this is the end of an era…an era of nearly achieving something huge but ultimately failing to deliver…is that a losing mentality? It’s a losing mentality when it really matters! The successful teams find a way to win big at big times…that’s big game winners mentality…we don’t have that and once we keep the money rolling in from champs league and the books are balanced and the wages to top players are relatively low and we are fed bullshit from the thfc spin doctors then everything is fine. Winners win trophies, losers keep on losing. Fur coat no knickers springs to mind.

  • “Fur coat no knickers springs to mind.”

    sounds delicious. Not only the mind should spring with this thought.

    In a different direction, I’d like to see Poch training CE with the substitutes. CE does not have a professional attitude. He doesn’t want to be in N17, so he puts in minimal effort. He lives in ignominy for me.

  • Just read through the match day article and this one, and can kindly deduct that Vital Spurs is not a happy place, oh dear I am really in the doldrums, never mind there is always dreaming. COYS

  • PY… we are not happy with good reasons. Our club players and their management has descended into a dark place from the good level players and poch had for 4.5 years. Levy and co. need to take their part in all this, as Eriksen should have been offered and signed a new contract higher wages (150k a week) 2 years ago, toby & Jan also. Yes we did have the new stadium costing more, yet levy did say it was budgeted for and money available for transfers, so why was no money taken from this to pay new contracts? as cheaper than buying players (which levy did not)

  • b108…thanks for that, slap on wrist as am a naughty little boy for not understanding lol! my unhappy place post was sarcasm! as you posted I also know all these things, but hey! what can I do? go and support another team, I do not think so, am a yid through and through, anyway thank you for the response. COYS 4 eva

  • A losing mentality and a losing habit are to totally different things. I think we may be falling into a lull but no, this team goes out to win. True losing mentality and habit comes from being bottom of the table and knowing you’re heading down. I think it happens at the end of a season, it’s not something that kicks in over night.

  • PY… I just had to get my opinion in there…. not having a go at you… I do feel we need to get this squad mental focus back asap. I have been a spurs fan since mid 60’s as you know.. and have been optimistic of wining the league title (and fa cup) every season… Or the CL (prev. European Cup) I hope to see this happen while still compos mentis… 🙂

    Ps Great memories of European UEFA wins for Spurs and ….Europ. Cup by Brian Clough / Nott Forest, lol

    • bl108….no worries mate, I was trying my ex-military/ex-civil engineering dry wit but to no avail, lol! all you say is true about Spurs this season, I have a likewise opinion as yourself, have also been a fan since 60-61 with the same seasonal dreams ever since.

      Ditto also great memories of Spurs in Europe, pre Prem, esp the wins, plus the great BC with NF. COYS

  • Here is my take on this losing mentality that i think people refer to. Its hard to put into a concise sentence. However, i think its the inability to win at the last hurdle usually when the pressure is on. In a cup competition the closer you get to the final with the chance of winning the prize the more pressure builds up and the more spot light you play under. So its the inability to deal with this pressure, spot light, to keep your nerve and perform as you know you can. Its the same in all sport. Can you block out the pressure, the spot light, millions of people watching, can you play with freedom as well as follow the tactics or are you unable to be free and that is a MIND thing, hence mentality. Now whether this is correct is up for debate, but this is what i think people refer to when they say we haven’t a winning mentality. Of course the debate will go on and on and people will have different perceptions and views. When your unable to be free i the mind your unable to be free i the body, that is a scientific FACT. So if you let the pressure of the occasion for instance get to you, or should i say your mind, then there is not going to be freedom, or flow, clarity for example and this translates to the body and this translates into performance. Some people have the ability to be free of mind, and therefore free in the body and free in their performance on such occasions and these are usually the winners. The recent interview with Ronaldo with Piers said everything he has achieved his because of his mind. Now to be free in the mind every time is hard and i am sure no one in sport can be like that all the time but those who can be more often than not will likely be winners. So part of the debate would be to ask whether this ability is just that, a ability and nothing to do with mentality or whether its deem fit to say this ability produces or is a mentality? A winning mentality? I think personally its too simplistic to say spurs haven’t got a winning mentality, however that is defined. Your then saying all players are the same, that is impossible. Football is a collective game and players are individuals. Say for instance if one player like Ronaldo has this ability more than most to be free in the mind and play freely, he still has to rely on his team mates for most of the game. Yes within the game his freedom of mind and body can dictate out comes like when he is in front of goal and gets a chance, or when he takes a penalty, but the out come of the game cannot be dictated by one player. Obviously the more players in a team that have the ability to be free in the mind and body the more chance they will be successful in their job. However, again as football is team game and things within football are out of the players control, like referees decisions the outcome of a game isnt always about being free in the mind and body. Take Leicester game. Had the goal stood and we went on to win would it cross anyone’s mind whether we had a winning mentality? One could argue that the players may let the occasion, VAR decisions affect their mind and wasn’t able to stay free and support this idea of weak mentality but equally if that goal stood the mentality wouldn’t have been questioned in that game, so ref decisions can determine the outcome of the game any way. Mentality is a big part of a game and the big occasions i think is what people refer to when spurs keep losing, and they feel they can’t get over the line because they are allowing the occasion to get to them, or their mind. You could say does it happen with MP as well. Many fans feel his selection in big games have been strange at times. Son left wing back gave penalty away. Not playing Toby in a semi. Playing a unfit Kane in CL final. When there is a prize its normal for the mind to get clouded, no different in life. How do people feel when they go for job interviews. Often they sag stupid things. Or when you have a first date. Us humans have minds that often go wild or out of control or create anxiety etc usually when their is perceived pressure. Those who do well in life situations have the ability to jot let their minds affect them, its the same in sport. I think this is what people mean when they say winning mentality. I think the mind will always be affected on such occassionsits what it does, its whether we can get passed the mind, be free of the mind and then be free in the body. So in essence is there such a thing has winning mentality or is it a matter of having the ability to be free from the mind and it’s games. When your free of the mind and it’s game its like being in the zone. Artist are like that and so are musicians and sports people, just a matter of whether you can maintain it, and the bigger the occasion the harder it is. Ultimately to be free of the mind and its games all the time is liberation and freedom, but you still have to take into account football is a team game so unless everyone is totally free it doesn’t mean you will win everything and even then there are variables when it comes to the outcome, ref decisions. I would say Kane has a lot of freedom from his mind, the pressure of taking penalties and converting them proves it imo. Yes his technical ability plays a part but most of it is mental, that is why so many players miss penalties in big occasions. 90 % its not being free of the mind, 10% down to technical ability of both penalty taker and goal keeper. The mind also plays a huge part throughout the game. If a decisions, mistakes goes against you, does it plaers the players mind? Its a ebb and flow, so to me i am not sure there is such a thing has winning mentality, but more of a ability to over come the mind and its antics, to be free of the mind and therefore free in the body and performance. This is the ultimate, not even positive mind sets is right imo. That takes you so far but for ultimate goals in life and sport, its about being free of the mind. Still doesn’t mean you will win everything though.

  • I think there are other things to consider as well. Attitude, work rate. Some people feel the harder you work shows you have a winning mentality. More work better you become. Take Buddhism they are disciplined with their meditation and some completely have no life outside this, no distractions because they believe that total focus on meditation and scripture will free them. So can it be said, players who totally dedicate themself to the game, training, practice, life style have a winning mentality? Attitude, similar, some people feel those who are winners will have a string consistent attitude toward their effort. Think about the approach, a attitude towards Palace game, which ties in with work rate. Could it be said that those who have a attitude to give all every game are winners because they believe that nothing less than 100% will get them there? It all still comes back to mind, attitude, effort, commitment to the cause is kind of a positive attitude, free of mind is being able to block out the the antics of the mind that dont serve you.

  • Loz….100% agree with your epilogue regards “mental strength” I mentioned similar before and that bit a luck plays a big part, as you said it can/does change the mentality. COYS

    • We are all debating the mentality of the manager and players, when it is a club mentality issue, coming from the very top of the organisation. It is a fact that many find hard to accept, that the ambitions and objectives of the ownership are not necessarily played out on the pitch, there is more determination to maximise the actual value of the organisation, and its profitability and ultimately its sale value, than increasing our on pitch investment so being able to realistically compete. When this club was a real force on the pitch, we achieved it by virtue of the quality of the players and the managers. In short we had a squad of players to stand comparison to anybody. When top players changed clubs Spurs were always an option hence the likes of the 60-61 team were all recruited and many were the best there was in their position, and they had a leader in Dave Mackay who was a warrior who would not have stood for the performance levels of some of the current team. Later when the likes of Greaves, Peters, Ardiles and Villa, Gascoigne, Lineker, Waddle, etc etc. Changed clubs they came to Spurs we were always a leading option . We have seen fit to spend a sum close to 1 billion on a new stadium, a showpiece, the best in the league, possibly close to the best in the world, whilst totally ignoring the need for improved quality on the pitch, with a nett spend over the last 3 or 4 years amongst the smallest in the league, and the performance of the team is diminishing directly proportionally to the lack of investment. The low level of investment made has also been misdirected, we still have no general, no quality second striker, a club full of similar MF players, no quality FBs. In truth the mentality of the ownership has been fulfilled. We are turning over record match day revenues, and declaring record profits, we are running on minimal budgets on player contracts, we have avoided transfer expenditure. The huge cost of the stadium has now been refinanced so it is repayable over a far longer period at minimal interest rates, but our chairman has already warned that the way the club is run will not change in terms of on field investment, so I’m afraid neither will the level of success and winning of honours. We are in competitions both in the UK and Europe where all of the leading contenders are working to different budget priorities than us, so placing us at a distinct advantage. It is possible to succeed with lower expenditure levels if the money you do spend is targeted and spent wisely as Leicester proved by building a PL winning team by buying budget signings like Vardy, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Kante, and others all at minimal cost, and they with the exception of Vardy have been sold on at massive profits, but the club has remained competitive with frugal expenditure. Their ownership concentrate, as do football club owners in general, in ensuring that they compete on the pitch to the limits of their capability, the direct contrast to the philosophy of ENIC who concentrate on enhancing the fiscal value of the business. We continually plead poverty but this is falsehood, we are simply concentrating resources in a different direction to our rivals.

  • Frank….to a degree, though a couple of things I wholly disagree with–

    1…you cannot compare today’s “modern” game/running of football clubs or business’s to the way things were done in the 60’s early 70’s, its as simple as that.

    2…Comparing Leicester City to us and the way things happened for them is wrong, yes they won the Prem, probably as things stand it will happen again, but lets be truly honest all things fell into place for them, as in the so-called top 6 teams were all re-building, as I have said before it was a “fluke” or that with a massive chunk of luck all the soldiers fell into line for them. COYS

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