Maintaining Focus – Loss of Concentration Costs Tottenham

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Referee Graham Scott checks VAR. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Referee Graham Scott checks VAR. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) /

While HotspurHQ normally looks at the positives, one negative that stood out in the Brighton game was how easily Tottenham lost concentration on the match.

It is not all rainbows and roses at N17, despite momentarily being in second place in the League. The start to the season has been good enough to create optimism and leave Spurs positioned to fight. However, dropped points from winning positions and inconsistent play between and even within matches can be concerning for a team seeking glory.

Some of the Achilles heels that could cost Spurs a trophy this season popped up during the match with Brighton and simply need to be addressed. If Tottenham cannot maintain their focus mentally, find some more depth in the midfield, or get defenders to defend first consistently Jose Mourinho and company will find it hard to win a trophy this season. In this piece we look again at the mental focus necessary to find success.

Tottenham and focus has been an issue for a while. This time, unfortunately or is it fortunately, I am not talking about the focus to stop giving up set piece goals.  While the team did better respond to set pieces, it was thanks to VAR not looking at a play that Spurs avoided a late penalty. Regardless, the defensive focus is not the issue here, rather it is keeping the focus on the game, not the referee.

Tottenham Players Must Ignore the Referee

For some reason Tottenham seemed to lose focus around 20 minutes in and got fixated on the referee. We saw Son go down too easily and Kane go down too easily and while both were ‘looked-at’ neither really amounted to anything. From that point forward there was hardly a whistle blown – for either team – that was no met with protest. Whether it was disputing the call, asking for a card, or looking for a whistle that never came, there was far too much focus on the referee and what Graham Scott was or was not doing.

When the team is focused on the referee, you know what they are not focused on? The opponent and the ball, which is how mistakes are made and goals are scored. Take the actual Brighton goal, yes it was a foul and Graham Scott missed it. Stuff happens, keep playing until you hear the whistle.

Instead of playing to the whistle what we got from Tottenham were a lot of raised arms and shouts for a call all while looking forward the man in black who had the whistle not the ball. As Spurs were focusing on Scott, Brighton was recycling play. By the time Spurs refocused, Lamptey was in and the goal was scored, then players were back to barking at the referee.

If the team needs someone to bark at the referee, it is the Portuguese man sitting in the dugout. Oh, how I long for the days when referees – for right or wrong – went relatively unquestioned by players. We have seen Tottenham take advantage of these situations, with Harry Kane’s quick assist to Heung-Min Son earlier this season. Now Tottenham have been caught by the same mental error. Focus on what you can control, which is your play, and let the coach focus on the referee – he is much better and more experienced at that then the rest of the team.