Dear Spurs, be a bird, not a cock

·3-min read
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane in action with Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum.
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane in action with Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum. (PHOTO: Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill)

By Alywin Chew

If Jose Mourinho had said to me “the best team lost tonight” following the full-time whistle, I’d have congratulated him for being a recipient of the new COVID-19 vaccine.

After all, the vaccine has been known to cause serious neurological symptoms in some individuals.

That being said, I would like to give the Portuguese the benefit of the doubt because Tottenham were obviously the better team - if we are talking about parking the bus.

But enough of antagonising the losing team. I actually feel for them. You see, the Spurs of today remind me of the Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

We had a good squad, the “best playmaker in the world” in the form of Joe Allen, a decent manager and all the promise in the world to bring home the league title. We did, after all, finish second in the 2013/2014 season.

But we eventually faltered along the way. (OKAY STOP IT WITH THE STEVEN GERRARD SLIP).

Why? You could not possibly say that the team did not have enough bite. We literally had a player who went around chomping on opponents with his teeth.

The reason is this: belief.

It is no coincidence that the frequency of Liverpool stealing a win in the final minutes of a game is growing under Jurgen Klopp. I can’t remember the team being so dogged in their pursuit of the winning goal in all my years as a Liverpool fan.

The fact that Klopp brought in ex-Chesterfield manager Lee Richardson as the club’s sports psychologist late last year also illustrates that a winning mentality is key to, well, winning.

Likewise, Tottenham doesn’t have a problem with squad quality. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are world class forwards. There is also a level of depth, experience and cohesion in the squad that other London teams can only dream of.

And as much as I would like to call Mourinho a one-trick pony that simply resorts to parking the bus against big teams, he has proven himself otherwise this season. The 6-1 demolition of Man United and the stylish win over Man City said it all – Mourinho has evolved.

So the problem isn’t really with the manager either.

It really is down to belief, which doesn’t come easy. Belief isn’t something that you just waltz into the transfer market and buy. It’s something that takes time to cultivate. It’s something that the manager and his support staff have to show and reinforce through their actions.

What could such actions be? I don’t have a degree in psychology nor do I have any coaching badges, but I would think that it’s something along the lines of telling your players this:

“Lads, we may be playing at Fortress Anfield today, but we’re going to rain fire and brimstone on their defence.”

Trust in them to play even sexier football than the defending league champions. Trust in them to replicate a 6-1 mauling of Man United.

But instead of exploiting the fact that Liverpool had a second rate central defence comprising of Fabinho and Rhys Williams, the visitors decided instead to soak up the pressure and hit the hosts on the counter.

Yes, Tottenham are deadly on the counter. But chances to do so against a team like Liverpool just don’t come often enough. It also didn’t help that Spurs were so profligate in front of goal.

This fixture was really three points dropped for Spurs rather than an impressive win for Liverpool.

Here’s another suggestion on how Spurs can instil belief in their players – change that creature on your club crest.

You see, ours was a case of a mythical Liver bird that finally managed to fly after struggling for 30 long years.

Fighting cocks, on the other hand, cannot truly fly no matter how hard they try.

This article, “Dear Spurs, be a bird, not a cock”, originally appeared on Football Siao – Singapore’s craziest EPL website.