The focus is not only on self-awareness for Ben Davies. What resonates with him is his ability to express the experience of being under constant scrutiny, both in the stadium and beyond, at the center of all the craziness.
“The pressure in this game is immense,” stated the Tottenham defender. “We’ve witnessed some players struggle greatly with it. Let’s face it, as Premier League players, we are constantly under pressure, with tough times always looming. Every move we make is scrutinized by millions of people globally. It can be quite overwhelming.”
Davies is faced with the question of how to manage the situation. Alternatively, how can Ange Postecoglou, in his role as Tottenham manager, foster an atmosphere that allows Davies and his fellow players to showcase their abilities? This is further complicated by the fact that Tottenham is known for sudden changes in the overall atmosphere.
After defeating Crystal Palace on 27 October, they maintained their position at the top of the standings with a record of eight wins and two draws in their first 10 games. This is their strongest start to a league season since 1960-61, when they ultimately became champions. They were highly likely to secure a top-four spot and possibly even contend for the title.
The events preceding the international break included two devastating losses against Chelsea and Wolves. Not only did they allow four goals against Chelsea, but they also lost four key players due to injury and suspension – Micky van de Ven, James Maddison, Cristian Romero, and Destiny Udogie. After the Wolves match, where they gave up two goals in stoppage time and lost 2-1, there were concerns about the team’s stability. Is Tottenham Hotspur only capable of extreme outcomes? “That is for you to determine,” Davies responds in a calm and gentle tone.
The individual, who is 30 years old, is currently situated in a room with a view of the club’s training fields. They are preparing for the upcoming match against Aston Villa on Sunday. Tottenham Hotspur is ranked fourth while Aston Villa is ranked fifth, making for an exciting game. However, there is a fantastic photograph displayed on the wall depicting the 26 players from Spurs who traveled to Madrid for the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool. Despite losing 2-0, the photo brings back fond memories for Davies. “Those were good times, weren’t they?” he recalls. “We always knew we were a strong team, but reaching that level was beyond our expectations. Who knows, with different circumstances, the outcome could have been different.”
If we are discussing the methods that managers use to motivate their teams, it is worth mentioning Mauricio Pochettino’s preparation for the Champions League final. In particular, the mental strength he instilled in his players by having them walk barefoot over hot coals.
Davies explains that while you may initially think it’s not a big deal, when faced with the situation directly, the reality can be quite different. He suggests using certain techniques to boost self-confidence and deceive the brain into realizing that the situation is not as daunting as it seems.
Davies is most impressed by Postecoglou’s approach to the game, which is rooted in love and respect. If his players can adopt this mindset and return to a state of pure passion, they will be able to play freely. Davies explains that this approach involves simplifying everything.
As a child, it was a common aspiration to play football. Everyone at this level has fulfilled that dream, but for the manager, it should serve as our driving force and reason for being here. Don’t forget that. Strive to be the best version of yourself – that is the personal aspect of why you play football. It’s a valuable reminder for all.
It is common to draw parallels between Postecoglou and Pochettino, and the same can be said for two of his previous counterparts: José Mourinho and Antonio Conte. Davies notes that “comparing [Postecoglou and Pochettino] is simple, given where we ended up,” but also acknowledges that Pochettino’s early months in 2014 were not without difficulties. Mourinho and Conte had stronger starts but ultimately faced challenges, leading Davies to believe that the club is now more stable under Postecoglou and better equipped for long-term growth.
According to Davies, when things are going well, people tend to overreact at the first sign of a setback. However, instead of panicking, it’s important to stay focused on the next game and not get distracted by external factors such as the media’s narrative or doubts about our playing style or team members. By staying united, we have a good chance of being successful in the end.
Currently, we may be experiencing a short period where we have not achieved the desired outcomes. However, we remain resolute and confident that with the support of our manager, we can recover and continue to play our style of football.
To clarify, the defensive formation will consist of four players pushing forward towards the opposing team’s half. This is likely to include Davies and Dier playing side by side in the center, as they have a close relationship.
Davies has been with Tottenham for 10 seasons and is currently the second longest serving player on the team, only behind goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who is no longer in favor. He has made 318 appearances for the team and may have thought he had experienced everything, but his recent start in the match against Wolves proved to be a challenging new test. Under Postecoglou, Davies has mainly played as a left-back and not very often at that. However, in this match, he was called upon to play as a centre-half in a back four for Spurs, something he had not done since playing under Pochettino in December 2018 against Arsenal in the League Cup. Davies recalls the match, saying “We won 2-0. It was when Dele Alli got hit with a bottle. Remember that one?”
Davies will maintain a confident attitude similar to Postecoglou’s as he heads into battle. He explains that when playing with a high defensive line, players must be even more focused because they do not have the extra layer of protection that comes with playing deeper. However, he also cautions that relying on sitting deep in their own box can give a false sense of security and actually invite more pressure. This can lead to more defending and potentially worse consequences if they make a mistake near their own box. On the other hand, playing higher up the field gives them a chance to defend and potentially avoid mistakes.