Past suffering, a new mentality and team togetherness: Eric Dier explains why there is more to Spurs’ winning start

Tottenham usually start slowly but have won their first three Premier League games despite making no new additions to the squad over the summer

Miguel Delaney
Sunday 02 September 2018 09:21
Comments
Tottenham 2018/19 Premier League profile

In the Tottenham Hotspur dressing room, there is one team flaw that has been discussed a lot this summer, and that they have sought to specifically rectify for the start of the season. It is, well, how they start the season. With the side conditioned to powerfully come to form after Christmas - something they have done in each of Mauricio Pochettino’s seasons at Spurs so far - he and the players have become conscious of how that has been hampered by much poorer form at the beginning of campaigns.

It’s difficult to dispute. The first three games of those first four seasons saw returns of 6, 2, 5 and 4 points with Spurs then particularly dipping around the October-November periods and leaving themselves with so much to do - even if they generally rise to it to at least make the Champions League. It’s just that the manager and players have been left with the feeling that it might have cost them something more, maybe even a title.

So, it’s equally difficult to dispute that they have started to rectify some of that. They have had a faultless start to the season, winning three from three, with that culminating in a first win at Manchester United since 2014 and at 3-0 their biggest there since 1969.

Spurs haven’t always been convincing in those matches but, for Eric Dier, that they still got full points is actually the point. They are learning to just drive through, even if they are not in top gear. Dier feels it is something that has come with experience and growth together.

“It's been something that we've spoken about a lot in the last couple of weeks, how we've felt we've always had slow starts,” the midfielder explains. “In the three previous seasons we've started slowly and I've always felt that's hindered us a bit. You're constantly playing catch up from there. We have had very strong periods always around Christmas and then going into February and March so we really wanted to change that this season and so far we have.”

The United performance was perfectly illustrative of this strived-for ability to drive through, and also reflected what Dier feels has been key to their development: the capacity to come through “suffering”. He points to how they would have lost that Old Trafford match in the past, as they did in very similar matches against Jose Mourinho in the last two seasons. But there’s a difference now.

Dier says Tottenham's mentality has changed against the big clubs 

Dier mentions the words “win” or “winning” 10 times over the course of a 15-minute chat, and it can be seen that message has been drummed in, to give Spurs that final decisiveness and end product to complete a long learning process.

“I felt like we suffered a bit at times in the first half and the second half [against United]. Obviously scoring quite early into it from a set piece it opened up the game for us and from then we managed to really take control. I think it's all just a question of being down to us. I feel like there's been a real shift in that area so far this season. As a team, as a squad, we're in a really good place. I think we're really focussed on purely winning.

"The mentality is solely focussed on that. I think we've been together now for four years and everything else is ingrained in us now so it's just really down to winning and I think that's the mentality within the whole squad and the club and the manager. I feel like it's showed in all the games we've played so far. I feel like we've gone into them fully prepared to suffer if we have to and to win. The Man United game in the past, that was the kind of game where maybe we wouldn't have seen the game out or we might have suffered more in the first half. But we went there and we got the job done.

“I think we've all matured, we're not so young any more. We've all experienced a lot together. We know each other very well. As I said I think being together for such a long time, everything else is ingrained in us now. We're just purely focussed on winning. Obviously we want to keep on improving, improving the way we play and our style, but personally - and I think the team feel the same way - it really is just about winning.

“It's purely just that we need to be in the right place mentally for every game. If we are, then I believe we're very capable of winning every game. So we have to really just focus on ourselves. We're working hard, we can work even harder and get better and better as a team.

“I think in order to succeed you have to suffer. Suffering is good. We've suffered at times in the past three seasons, we've been through difficult periods, and this season we're going to go through difficult periods too. We're going to suffer at times but we have to know how to get through that, and I think we do. It's a matter of it just being down to us, what we do and the way we approach every game, every day here at the training ground. If we do all those things right and we're in the right mental space, then I think anything is possible.”

It is also why Dier fully chimes with his manager’s view that Spurs don’t need big signings to make it possible - and he insists that’s not at Pochettino’s prompting. It’s his own view.

Mauricio Pochettino doesn't need to spend big at Spurs, says Dier 

“I always see now, when big teams are doing badly, people say they need to spend another £200m or £300m. I just think it’s crazy. People are looking at the wrong things if they think they need to spend money in that kind of sense, to change things. It’s so much more down to working with the players you have got, getting the best out of the players you have got, building something as a team.

"The culture you create at the training ground, the work that you put in at the training ground. The atmosphere, the relationship between the players. There are like 50 different factors. Of course, one of those factors is signing players and teams need to sign players for different reasons - I understand that, there is always something better out there.

“But for me people use it as an excuse and it’s the easy option to say ‘oh yeah, we’ll just spend £100m on a player and everything will be OK’. It’s not the case. If you look to the past and clubs that have been relegated recently, lots of them have spent a lot of money. They think that is what is going to make them better, but it’s so far from reality.

"It’s all about the manager and the players who are the club, creating that right environment and demanding everything from everyone every day. Improving every day, improving the players you have at your disposal and not looking elsewhere constantly. Look at what you have got, appreciate what you have got and work with what you have got so that you can make them as good as possible, make yourself better and make the club better. For me, you don’t understand if you think just spending money is going to resolve things. It’s so far from it.”

It’s so far a very different start for Spurs, and that’s without signing anybody.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in