‘He pokes you’ – Spurs star opens up on how Mourinho has got the best out of him

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

With the first three episodes of Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ having been released on Monday, fans have already had an insight into Jose Mourinho’s man-management techniques.

One of the most talked-about parts of the documentary so far is the way Mourinho confronts Dele Alli for his laziness in his first training session as Spurs boss.

Eric Dier has now admitted that Portuguese coach does like triggering players in order to get the best out of them.

When asked what it was like to work with Mourinho, Dier told The Athletic: “To experience his man-management was something that people talk about a lot, if you listen to players he’s coached.

“To experience that first hand is quite special. He’s incredible in the way that he pokes you with his words to get the best out of you. He’ll say things to you and nudge you with things. It’s all with the idea of triggering you to want to do better. To want to improve or to prove him wrong.”

The England international backed up his assertion with an example of how the 57-year-old singled him out for his poor showing in training just before the last game of the season.

After Dier had just served his four-match ban, Mourinho reportedly walked up to him and said: “You’ve been shit in training since your suspension. Do you want to play this weekend?”, to which Dier responded: “Of course I want to play.”

“Yeah, well you’ve been shit since you got suspended,” Mourinho said, before walking off. Reflecting on that exchange, the centre-back said: “I felt like I knew what he was doing. He was just giving me a kick up the arse before the final game. Those kind of things trigger you.”

The 26-year-old insisted that Mourinho’s honest criticism has so far provoked the right reaction from the squad.

He said: “It should always provoke a good reaction if you’re honest with yourself. Which I think we were in that case, after Sheffield United, a really embarrassing game. If you’re honest enough to accept the reality, then it should always provoke a positive reaction. And that time, it did. But we’ve had too many times over the time I’ve been at Tottenham, we’ve had too many games like that Sheffield United game. The reasons are quite consistent. It’s something we need to change.

“It’s just a question of mentality. Because, with no disrespect to Sheffield United, with our quality, it can only be because of our mentality, and the way we approach those games. If I look back at lots of seasons, the season Chelsea won the league ahead of us (2016-17), if you look back to the results of that season, there were those games at home at the beginning of the season. West Brom and Newcastle. Those games I still remember, because those are the games that cost us.”

As Spurs look forward to their first full campaign under Mourinho, Dier asserted that the team will go into every competition next season believing that they can win it.

“The target is to be competitive in every competition”, he said. “One thing that’s great about the manager is that you know that in every competition we’re in, we’re going to be trying to win it.

“It’s really straightforward. There is nothing else to it. That is a very nice feeling to have now. To know that in every competition, we’re going to be trying to win it.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Jose’s confrontational leadership techniques can certainly help bring the best out of the likes of Dele and Dier, who seem to have incredible self-belief. However, we have seen in the past that it backfires with other players who are not as mentally strong. Ndombele is a prime example of a player who could have perhaps used an arm around his shoulder rather than being publicly criticised.

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  1. Again we read opinion from people that all want to believe they know better than one of the most successful managers in football history? Maybe Ndombele could have done with a hug? What like? Awww poor man, come here and let Jose give you a cuddle, it’s okay you don’t have to be scared. I’m here to mollycoddle you, to keep you crying and to keep you a weak-minded individual? I’m not here to demand my players perform and work as hard as every team member? Rubbish, how about, you cost a lot of money, you earn good wages, you’re overweight, seemingly not interested, and lacking any sort of camaraderie? Either buck your idea’s up or you’ll be leaving? Or even tell him outright NOT GOOD enough. You have a couple of months to turn it around, I’m open to you doing that. We are not going to mollycoddle you, we want you to play for us, and we know your quality, we just need to start to see it?


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