“It’s real” – Nuno admits Tottenham players need to become mentally stronger

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Nuno Espirito Santo
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Nuno Espirito Santo has admitted that the mental fragility that Tottenham players have shown in recent weeks is a matter of concern for him and his coaching staff.

After starting the campaign with three successive 1-0 wins, Tottenham have fallen to two consecutive 3-0 hammerings against Crystal Palace and Chelsea over the last couple of weeks.

The second-half performance from Nuno’s men against both Palace and Chelsea left a lot to be desired, with the team collapsing under pressure.

However, the Tottenham boss insisted that the players should be able to take confidence from the fact that they managed to overcome Wolves on penalties in the Carabao Cup this week.

When asked if the team’s mental fragility was an issue, Nuno told Football.London: “It’s real, it’s something that is happening to us. The penalties, I think it’s something we prepared very well. The boys prepared the day before. They spent a lot of time. They were very careful and we had that moment organised because it could eventually happen.

“So we tried to prevent and prepare it. In terms of what you mention – it’s real. Even Wednesday, we were in front of the score but the moment that we concede we didn’t react well.

“We felt a little bit disorganised. We let the opponent not with real danger but having the sensation we were on the back foot so that’s something we must improve.

“It happened before and we were not able to react. Wednesday was better because in the second half in the beginning we could easily put the game to bed.

“So that momentum was ours but it’s something that we must improve on because it happened in the first minute and you still have a long way in the game to go. So we are working on that aspect, not only the mental aspect of the situation but how to react as a team.”

This evening, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will host one of the biggest sporting events of the year, with Anthony Joshua set to put his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO boxing belts on the line against Oleksandr Usyk.

Nuno admitted that his side can absob a lot of characteristics from champion boxers both in terms of mentality and tactics.

He added: “First of all, [to fix it we need] the confidence. That we have. That we must have. Just to use a simple example of boxing, with people talking about the big occasion on Saturday night.

“You cannot spend all the round throwing punches. Sometimes you have to protect yourself. If you get a punch, instead of opening your guard, you should close your guard and respect that your opponent also has these moments.

“So using this simple situation gives us a lot of what we should do. So we are organised, we are stable, we are solid. No matter what happens we must keep on doing.

“We are playing good football. We are looking threatening and looking for the goal. You score, you have to go again. So it takes time but this is the process.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Our second-half collapses against both Chelsea and Palace was certainly indicative of a mentality issue. So, I do worry how we will respond if we go a goal or two down in the North London derby on Sunday.

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