Updated: May 10
How about those Spurs? I’ve not enjoyed watching a Spurs side so much in 30 years. And it’s very hard to adequately convey how good that feels. We have an effective team of likeable individuals who are good to watch. And we are in with a chance of achieving great things. Happy days are here again. So where’s the ‘but’?
For me, it was the absence of a ‘but’ that really brought home to me how this season is shaping up. Before the Villa game a few weeks ago, I woke up with a very strange feeling. We’d been doing well. Villa weren’t all that. A win would take us into the top four. For any Spurs fan with any knowledge or experience of the club, there was only one conclusion to draw when all this was considered. We’d balls it up. But on this particular morning, having waited for the sheer inevitable clarity of that analysis to hit home, I realised it hadn’t. I was confident we would approach the game professionally and get the result we were capable of.
When I got to the Irish Centre to meet the rest of the normal match day crew I expected to be shaken out of this strange mood of confidence. But everyone else was feeling the same. We all felt just a tad uneasy about our confidence, but we weren’t being arrogant. We had just weighed the situation up and concluded that we should win.
Of course, we did. My mate described it as “the first 2-0 massacre I’ve ever seen”. We played some brilliant football. The pundits loved us. It all felt slightly odd, but us fans are evidently on the same learning curve as the one the players have completed – and that is a curve that ends at the destination of believing in ourselves.
Since then we’ve played not very well at West Brom and won. And then we’ve put in another sublime performance against Bolton this weekend. It was so good that even Alan Hansen said it was as god as it gets. The only complaint is that we could have won by double figures. We had 16 good goalscoring chances. Not long not the game we clicked into gear, passing, moving, keeping possession and probing. In a game of many, many highlights, one moment stands out still.
In the second half, Luka Modric picked up the ball in the middle third of the pitch. Looking up, he raked an arcing pass forward. The ball sent Benoit Assou-Ekotto running in behind the Bolton full back. Not only was the vision perfect, so was the weight. The ball rolled inwards along the turf towards the edge of the box, the defender despairing as it sped away from him, Benoit’s hunger growing as it settled snugly for his stride to control. All the defender could do was bring Benoit down in the box for as clear a penalty as the Cahill red card was clearly not a sending off. It was a pass of such perfect visions and weight that I cannot remember seeing anything better on a football pitch in a very long time.
Those are the small details we are feasting upon, the details that come together to provide the sheer pleasure of this season. The fact that this group of players does not contain a single annoying prima donna, that they seem genuinely likeable, adds to the joy of Spurs right now.
We are on a fantastic run. And we should enjoy it. If we really are in with a shout, things will get tougher and tenser. We will not dominate many games in the way we did the Villa and Bolton encounters. And we will hit a patch that tests this new-found character. The line between pain and pleasure will get closer before the chance of ecstasy.
Can we win the title? Why not? Forget the money, the squad depth, all the panjandrum of modern football and just look at the players on the pitch and he results achieved. Why can’t we beat anyone we’re up against over 90 minutes? Because we just have to do that more than everyone else. That’s a big “just”. But surely we’ve shown that it’s possible.
What’s so encouraging is that there is very little, if any, arrogance from the club or the fans. But also very little of the pessimism which we’ve had to adopt as a protective shield. We have entered the realms of the possible.
One last thought. One of the friends I sit with said this is the best Spurs team he’s seen. I say the early 80s team is still the best because that team won trophies and this team still has to. He says the achievement now is far greater than the team of Hoddle, Ardiles and Perryman achieved. I know what he means, but I stick by my argument. That’s not to dismiss the achievement of the current team. Or to do them down. That’s just my definition of success. I’d be interested to hear what you think.