Mental strength separates Spurs from Man U

Posted by Dan Fitch

So I'm sat watching a dodgy feed of Tottenham's match with Everton. Spurs are 1-0 up going into injury time and everything's right with the world.

At that moment I was called away from the game to attend to some sort of family emergency in the kitchen that couldn't possibly be tended to without my involvement. The type of incident that I imagine any reader with a wife and young child will be entirely familiar with.

Having dealt with the latest catastrophe to befall my family in roughly 90 seconds, I return to the laptop. Spurs are now losing 2-1. It says a lot for the horrific set of experiences that I have had to deal with during my time supporting Tottenham that I wasn't even the slightest bit surprised.

- Everton's late goals stun Spurs

The most common phrase muttered by Tottenham fans Sunday evening is a rueful 'classic Spurs'. When it comes to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have few peers.

This has been going on for years. So while the criticism of Andre Villas-Boas and the negativity of his substitutions is justified, let’s not pretend that these type of collapses are anything new.

I've just seen the statistic that if all Premier League matches ended after 80 minutes this season, Tottenham would be on top of the league. The defeat to Everton would have ended as a win, as would draws against West Brom and Norwich, while the away loss to Manchester City would have ended a draw.

In an 80-minute season, we’d have 34 points in total and would be sitting two points clear of Manchester United on 32. In the real world, we only have 26 points and United sit 13 points ahead of us with 39, having snatched another late win against their rivals Manchester City earlier Sunday.

United have won four games this season with a late winner in the last 10 minutes. So why are we so bad in the closing moments of matches, while United are so good?

I don’t believe that they’re any fitter than Spurs. Once you would have said that they simply have much better players at their disposal. This doesn’t ring true now. If you were to pick a side from the combined Spurs and United squads you could easily make an argument for Tottenham providing five or six.

No, I think that it’s a case of plain old mental strength. United have plenty of flaws in their team at the moment but the club is built on a culture of winning. Sir Alex Ferguson has created an environment where his team always believe they can get a result, so they keep on going, keep on fighting and more often than not they walk away with a result they’re pleased with.

On the other hand, Spurs have a rich history of wading straight into any potential disaster. Spurs can have a 1-0 or 2-0 lead and the opposition still smell blood. They know that as the minutes tick on and pressure builds, our mentally weak team of fragile crackpots will collapse like a pack of cards confronted by a bulldozer.

That mentality is not going to change overnight. There's going to be other afternoons this season just like this one, so let's take it in our stride and not panic. Spurs have two home games next (vs. Swansea and Stoke). and if they win those you can bet they will be back in the top four and bang on course to achieve what we want this season. . .

Or alternatively, Spurs draw the next two. conceding last-minute equalisers in both, and I'll leave White Hart Lane muttering "classic Spurs" as the stadium echoes with boos. Either scenario is entirely possible, one of the reasons that I'm so in love with this daffy old club.

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