The Real Deal

i suppose this is what it feels like. Supporting a top team. I mean Spurs, always a top team to me, right up there, don’t anyone try to tell me different or I must ask you kindly to step outside. But this real. Third place, two points behind Manchester United with a home game in hand. Playing the best football I’ve seen for thirty or so years. Lauded by other fans and the media because we have goals, victories, and above all, style. People want to watch us play.

We’ve done top four in the recent past, of course. We were fourth because we deserved it over the season before last, but be honest – there was a big gap between us and them, the top three. They played classier football, the way it should be played. Now there’s no us and them. We are them.

It’s taken me a while to get used to it but I’m fine with it now. A little stunned at first, waiting for the wheels to fall off, just like they always do. 40 plus years of support, it will surely go wrong soon enough, just when that sense of false security creeps up on you. Even on this run, we had a bit of luck at Blackburn and Fulham. Yeah yeah, winning ugly, I know, but come on, between you and me, luck, huh? But this week we slaughtered a decent mid-table side and overcame West Brom yesterday. Hey, what the hell. We’re brilliant, exciting, fluent, beautiful, did I say brilliant already? Top three, doing things in style. I can handle that.

I watched the Villa game with someone who likes football but has never been to a Spurs match before. She said she was ‘dazzled’ with the live experience, being close to the players, the crowd, the ebb and flow of the play with the fans being part of it. I replied that I’m on my way to half a century and I was dazzled too. Yesterday we showed some of those breath-taking moves, movement of players into space faster than we spectators can keep up with, the ball shifted from one end of the pitch to the other in the blink of an eye, we saw these on a few occasions, especially towards the end when our redoubtable opponents were pushing on and left gaps. The example was Defoe’s goal, a memorable and stunning moment, one pass from Benny, a deft flick that opened up acres, then a thirty yard run before a bludgeoning finish. Pace and delicacy capped by a sudden eruption of power.

But the real deal manifests itself in other ways too, and that’s what has really hit me. The ball’s played upfield, no worries, we’ll get it back soon enough. Stretching for it, it’s OK, kept it. Always someone available to touch it on to. Long ball down the middle of our defence, meh, Kaboul’s sorted it. Or Brad’s swept it up. Sweet. Any Spurs fan will tell you, we are not used to that feeling. Uncharted territory. I’m still exploring but I kind of like it.

This week we faced two new challenges. On Monday we resumed after a long break against a decent side. How many times have these matches been our downfall? The ones we are supposed to win. Our opponents keep it tight, we go down to a late winner. Not so long ago this was Spurs. Stoke, Wolves, Blackpool. Yet we destroyed Villa. Moreover, they came to the Lane and they were scared. They didn’t see Spurs as beatable if you put in a shift and get stuck in, but intimidated.

Yesterday we faced and overcame a new and different challenge. For the first time this season we were confronted by a well-organised team who pressed us mercilessly, leaving us no time to settle and play our football. Time and again we were pushed back, back passes when we are used to sweeping onwards. No time to set any rhythm or tempo. Modric’s true influence apparent in his absence. Then a goal down, Bale’s ineffectual defending gave Reid too much space, then we failed once again to deal with a cross, albeit a fine one, placed between our centre halves. Not for the first time – it’s a weakness that was nearly exploited by Odemwingie near the end. I’d be interested to hear if anyone reading this is a coach. It’s a tricky decision for defenders – centre forwards have been trying to set themselves up in the gap since football was first played – but I assume Kaboul as the man who can see the forward should leave his station and come to him.

We’ve faced such challenges before and folded. Not now. We have the ability to change and a manager able to get the message through. Under pressure, we shifted slightly, same shape but more attacking. Defoe pushed up to get closer to Manu, who worked magnificently, his movement opening up the defence throughout but he was isolated in the first half. Parker moved up, just a bit but he lead us whereas earlier the match largely passed him by. Full-backs pushing on – Benny superb today, dominating that flank, more passes than anyone else. Bale on the right stopped Thomas’s advances and shut down that attacking option for the Baggies. Sandro, booked and surely one foul away from red, remained diligent and composed. Fearless, he did not shirk a tackle or physical challenge. Such poise and bravery is top class.

We introduced width and upped the tempo. The second half was ours despite West Brom’s continuing efforts. The players responded with relish but Redknapp deserves full credit. Manu got a late third after missing other chances, including a penalty but we make so many chances these days.

So a fine win and a glorious week. Fabulous football, enjoy it with me. I can’t recall a spell quite like this one. Quality yes, plenty of that over the years despite what we Spurs fans might say, but never the consistency. In 82 we might have cracked the league but for a crazy fixture pile-up that left us worn out and with only a dull cup win to show for it. That came close but this is right up there. And the best thing is, there’s more to come.

15 thoughts on “The Real Deal

  1. The ethos at WHL has always been captured by Blanchflower’s often used quote. But we also now have a touch of steel. For me the victory against WBA and earler this season against Fulham is just as laudable as the sweeping flow of the game against Villa. The tea dug in and came through. I suspect the defense will always look a bit porous,that is simply a consequence of playing attacking ball. These really are great days!!

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    • That will be our weakness, David, leaving space when we attack, and I’ve bored you and others on this blog for ages about that. Bale and Lennon are working hard but Bale especially could do more defensively rather than hang about up front when we lose the ball. The full backs could tuck in more too. However, we’re so much better than we used to be.

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    • Hmm, interesting. I’ll check the results this week. That 87 team was severely underrated, I reckon. Could be a post coming on….

      Thanks for this,

      Al

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  2. OK yeah we are doing very well but you need to calm down a bit. We haven’t beaten any of last season’s top three yet and an injury to Adebayor will leave us totally screwed, especially as Harry reckons we’ll buy nobody in January.

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    • This blog wants Spurs to be contenders, that’s my view over the last couple of years, and we are. We’re not as good, in my view, as City or United but we are up there because we’re good enough. Also, we could stay thereabouts by not beating City, United or even Chelsea, providing that we do what we haven’t done over the years and polish off teams who are below us on a consistent basis.

      Agree totally re Adebayor – although we did well on Saturday without Luka and Rafa, Pav is no replacement for Manu. He has meant so much to us. Still, the movement and balance of the side is such that others are taking up goalscoring positions and we are making chances. Both were problems last season.

      And sometimes you take things Harry says with a pinch of salt…

      Regards,

      Al

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      • If we are sensible and buy a genuine world class target man in january I believe anything is possible. Even first. If we don’t then u fear an injury to Adebayor will totally derail our season.

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  3. Great read. Being Spurs we would have preferred to remain under the radar, but clearly people have noticed that we keep winning and are now morally in second position. We’re title contenders, for better or for worse.

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  4. Nice article, one which I feel every Spurs fan who reads it can relate to. We all feel the same elation mixed with some trepidation because of past failings however, I’m excited by this current squad of players, the free flowing skillful football, ball retention, midfield guile and bite, never say die attitude throughout the side, reliable goalkeeper and all playing with a smile and togetherness very rarely seen in a Spurs side which will get even better as the season progresses. I was more than a little worried when Modric and VDV werent named in the squad against WBA but, we fought and overcame without them. How often in the past have we all feared the worst when our star player wasnt in the side let alone two. I cant remember feeling so positive about a Spurs side that I now dare to dream about glorious things to come for our Spurs at long long last. May it continue for years to come it’s good for the heart.

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