A psychological study of Spurs fans ahead of transfer deadline day

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In the field of psychology there is a phenomenon called “attitude polarization”, in which a disagreement becomes more extreme as different parties consider new evidence on the issue in question.

What happens is that, when new evidence is introduced, it is interpreted in such a way as to reinforce existing biases towards the issue. So instead of narrowing a disagreement, or at least moving the disagreement along, as one may expect new evidence to do, it instead just jacks up the level of disagreement yet further.

If any shrinks out there are looking for a new case study, they may want to look at Spurs fans whenever the issue of signing a striker comes up.

In one corner is the school of thought that Spurs desperately need to sign a striker this January. Failing to do so leaves us exposed if Harry Kane gets injured, and could fatally undermine our chances of a top four place, or even a title run.*

Here is one tweet from my Twitter timeline to illustrate this side of the argument:

In the other corner, is the school of thought that Spurs already have excellent cover for Kane in the form of Son Heung-min, and buying a striker for the sake of it could harm the balance of the squad and waste money that could be used better in another way.

Here is another tweet from my Twitter timeline to illustrate this:

(Harry is my source of Arsenal Fan TV cuts, Caley needs no recommendation from such a minor blog as this one).

I don’t think, short of a serious injury to Kane in the FA Cup or in training, that any new evidence could emerge between now and the end of January that is significant enough to change minds. A man-of-the-match performance by Son against Leicester in the FA Cup, for example, or the inability to break down Leicester in the Premier League clash, were both not enough.

More likely, the small pieces of news that emerge from the camp, plus the drip-drip of gossip and speculation spewed out by the assorted footballing media, will simply serve to reinforce existing views further as February 1 draws near.

This same dynamic was in place in September, and the club hierarchy was so taken aback by the outpouring of frustration that Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino needed to issue a statement to try and explain their views.

A lot has gone right for Spurs since then, and Pochettino in particular has won the admiration and trust of the fanbase. But this success has only served to heighten the demand, from some, to bring in another striker, given the opportunities this weird season is presenting.

Even as the views of us fans have evolved, albeit only further in one particular direction or the other, it is worth remembering that Pochettino’s view hasn’t changed at all. Every time the question is asked, and it is asked a lot, he says that he believes Spurs have sufficient options up front, he won’t buy a striker just for the sake of it, but if the right player was available he would like to add to the squad.

We don’t know Levy’s views — but the fact, as of the publishing date of this article, that the sum total of the club’s incoming business this window has been an 18-year-old midfielder from Ebbsfleet Town, makes his stance pretty clear.

My two cents is that Spurs need to sign another striker. But it’s not because Son isn’t able to cover for Kane, it is that when he plays up top he is too similar. We need a “different” option, especially off the bench. There have been a number of tight games — against Everton at home, West Brom away, Leicester at home for example — where a striker who likes to play in behind a defence, rather than from side-to-side, may have made the difference.

At the right price, I’m all for bringing in someone like Saido Berahino, although this appears increasingly unlikely. A loan, if the right player was available, would make a lot of sense if Spurs don’t want to take the risk of a big outlay on someone they are not completely convinced by. Moussa Dembele from Fulham sounds an interesting prospect, although he would appear very much at the development stage.

But that is just my opinion. Nothing will change my view at this point, just as nothing I say will change your view. It’s going to be a long seven days.

Thanks for reading. Please follow me on Twitter for more Spurs chat, and I greatly appreciate your help sharing this article.

* Quick update: To make clear, a lot more fans think Spurs should sign another striker than stick with current options. 

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