Spurs Fans Say, Bring Them All On. Me? I’m Just A Little Overcome

Spurs beat Manchester City with shedloads of talent, a bit of luck and overflowing with heart and soul. They faced the challenge with clear heads and not a trace of fear in their eyes. Bring them on, bring them all on.

Nobody predicted us to be second with 12 games left, 2 points off the top and 10 ahead of 5th. It has made a substantial impression not only on the table but also on the media with Sky positively creaming themselves during and after the match. Yet the biggest impact has been on Spurs fans. Always loyal but surely this has exceeded all our expectations. Tottenham On My Mind is about support and supporters as much as the team. Last season and the beginning of this, people would whisper lest the secret would get out, look, it doesn’t feel the same any more. Old school fans, in their forties, fifties and beyond, a lifetime of support, weren’t getting the buzz as much.

The change in mood is the most remarkable feature of an extraordinary season. The enthusiasm and commitment as much as some outstanding football has swept us up in a tide of love and affection, and let’s call it by its true name because love is what it is. Fans talk with tenderness about players and a manager who care almost as much as we do. They know what the Hotspur, the one and only Hotspur, means. They play attacking football the Spurs Way, the way we have always played when we have been successful. They most certainly do not sit back and wait for the other team to die of boredom. Let’s hope some glory follows. Now, those conversations say, whatever happens, this is the best season in donkeys’ years, happy however it turns out. Me? I’m just a little overcome.

The significance of the win can’t be exaggerated and goes way beyond the three points over one of our main rivals. Our results against teams below us have kept us hovering around the top four in the past rather than taking points from those up above and joining in the party. That’s why the home defeat to Leicester rankles still, especially as it was to a set-piece goal and an error by the player who has been this season’s true game-changer, Toby Alderweireld.

Memories of going to City with Harry Redknapp. An outside chance of a win on the back of a little spurt of results first faded as we went two down then suddenly everything became possible when Bale put the ball into the top corner. At 2–2, Bale slid the ball across the box and Defoe’s outstretched foot failed to connect by a fraction of a fraction. Balotelli came on, stamped on Parker, stayed on to score a late winner. Ironically this was also a mistake by our best defender, Ledley King.

It’s a long season but ours turned on that match and that moment. Momentum and confidence were lost along with the points. Above all perhaps, that imponderable, nebulous but real, the feeling that despite everything, things weren’t going our way. Contrast that with a win built on the oh-so-tangible foundations of hard work, skill and motivation, but ultimately secured by a dodgy penalty and a late breakaway. Times are changing.

This is a side rooted in preparation and planning. Pochettino is an outstanding manager, meticulous in all aspects and a master of the four elements of management, the physical side in keeping the squad super-fit, tactics, choosing/buying the right players and motivation. I’d seldom argue that final whistle celebrations are a match highlight but if you have not already done so, catch the video of Poch congratulating his men in front of our jubilant away fans. One of those excerpts that we should all keep on our computers and play it when we feel down. Truly heartwarming, totally genuine. No choreographed celebrations or gurning down the steady-cam.

Moreover, MP makes preparation fun. He uses it to inject elan and flair into our play rather than stifle it. Comparatively little of that on show in a second half where we were on the back foot after City equalised. 1–1, half an hour left, strap yourself in for a bumpy ride. Yet this time Spurs produced the passage of play that turned the game. Despite our possession and ability to attack, Spurs remain thrilling on the counter, when teams come out and leave space behind. For all his newly found endeavour and ability on the ball, Lamela’s memorable defining skill is not the rabona but an angled pass delivered from a central position between 20 and 30 yards from goal. Once more he delivered, the perfection of the pass exceeded only by the mastery of Eriksen’s finish. He had a fine game all round and capped it by being the man furthest forward as well as the calmest man on the pitch. Cue bedlam in the away in the away end and bedlam in a Kent living room.

Pochettino has set the defining characteristics of this team too. My memories of the first half are a moment of pressing where a City player was trapped by the touchline 40 yards from his goal, 5 Spurs men as one descended on their prey. Or Walker sprinting back 40 yards to intercept a pass. Alderweireld, two tackles in less than 10 seconds as the fearsome Ageuro attacked deep in our box. This is Pochettino’s Tottenham. Our Tottenham.

We played so well but made few chances, in contrast to the Watford game where we made a hatful. We took the big one that came our way and I guess this is the way it will be until the end of the season, few chances so take them when they come along.

For all the planning, a moment beyond our control shifted the balance of power in our favour. Mark Clattenburg no doubt has suffered a decade of sleepless nights and self-doubt since he did not give the Mendes ‘goal’. On Sunday, he chose to exorcise the guilt. The only explanation, surely.

I like City’s fans. Like Spurs they are loyal from way back and their rivals have had the better of things for too long. Unlike us they have suffered the indignities of a double relegation. I’m less sure about their underachieving team despite the presence of two of my favourite non-Spurs men, Silva and Ageuro. Highly significant therefore that they needed the anger of a wrongly-given penalty to motivate them. Spurs on the other hand are powered from within, a determination to do well right from the off regardless of anything else that occurs. That motivation is hard to create but endures because it comes from within. Spurs are self-motivated. It is a huge, crucial difference that could be decisive in the run-in.

Another thing – in the past Pochettino has lacked a Plan B, how to change things if Plan A doesn’t work out. On Sunday, we saw how this has changed. No side can press intensely for 90 minutes. None of the pressing teams would think of even attempting this. On the hour, under pressure, we fell back into two other formations to suit the state of the game, firstly defending from within our half then near the end refusing to shift from our patterns 35 yards out. Defensive lines remained steadfast – we would not be pulled out to leave a gap.

And Hugo, under-employed, at the death a fingertip was enough to tip the ball away on the goal-line. I am convinced he got to that first because he wanted it more. The motivation runs from back to front.

How’s this for a story? Wimmer in his fourth start, fearless and mighty. No one in the media picked it up. They’ve begun to take our excellence for granted.

Tonight the Europa League resumes its role in draining the joy from football. As I have said repeatedly, it does not have to be that way and in an ideal world I’d like to see Spurs aim to get as far as possible in what should be a respected competition. But by now you would have seen the stats that Spurs could play another 27 games before the season ends whereas Leicester have 12. Shades of 1982 when hopes of not only the title but an unlikely treble sank in the White Hart Lane mud. Over Easter we played 8 matches in 12 days if memory serves.

Every time I get to this point in a blog I tell myself to simply type, ’and in the Europa League’, every time I can’t stop myself from adding a paragraph about the injustice, not so much to Spurs but to football, because it is wrong, it is avoidable and it infuriates me. Earlier this week the FA were talking about ending cup replays. So their solution is to devalue still further the uniqueness of a special competition. Never mind a single leg semi-final, I would get rid of the League Cup altogether. It long since outgrew its original purpose of generating more income for clubs and raising the profile of the Football League. Compensate all 92 teams with television money and give more publicity to a completion for sides outside the PL with a Wembley final. The extra EL place for a league finish would keep interest going longer too.

Back to the point. Sticking to my EL strategy outlined at the start of the season, I would send a decent team to Florence but hold back the spine. Mason and Bentaleb could yet be key to our chances of success this season. That is a strong central midfield line-up, last season’s first choice in fact. Son up front, Lamela, Chadli and Carroll behind him, we have excellent full-back options and Vorm in goal. Vertonghen’s injury exposes the comparative lack of cover at centre half so Wimmer plus Alderweireld, enabling our spine to take well-earned R and R, i.e. Kane, Dier, Eriksen, Dembele, Lloris and Alli. As if we needed another reminder of Pochettino’s expert player management skills but that is a strong side where only two players, Ononmah and Vorm, are short of first-team game time and all of them bar Dier/Alderweireld will benefit from the match.

 

 

17 thoughts on “Spurs Fans Say, Bring Them All On. Me? I’m Just A Little Overcome

  1. Fantastic blog article as usual. Caught my mood perfectly. I agree about City’s fans too. Good people from way back. Of course, they will have loved their recent titles and success, and the great players they’ve seen, BUT, deep down, can their joy, love, ever compare with what we would feel doing it OUR way, without billions splashed, with youth and ‘our own’ instead, and a manager who seems to be one of those ‘accidents’ that occasionally occur; a man and a moment, a club and a situation, all aligning to change history.

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  2. Wonderful article capturing the Zeitgeist. I agree with almost everything you say. I might keep the LC for teams not in Europe but that’s debatable. The FA cup should indeed be sacred. I’m in danger of becoming a bore about it but it’s the bloody international friendlies that congest the fixture list the most, they need to go.

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  3. Wonderful article capturing the Zeitgeist. I agree with almost everything you say. I might keep the LC for teams not in Europe but that’s debatable. The FA cup should indeed be sacred. I’m in danger of becoming a bore about it but it’s the bloody international friendlies that congest the fixture list the most, they need to go.

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  4. I trust all is well at home, Alan.

    Super piece as ever.

    Brrr, 1981-1982! 10 games in 23 days, I think it was, at the end there, with a small squad and nigh on everyone taking injections to play through the pain barrier. In that season we went to the death in the FA Cup and League Cups and SF of the ECWC (as in 61, shunted out of Europe by some dubious refereeing, possibly from orders on high!).

    Poch knows his players and will know how to ration their game time. Thankfully, we have the FA Cup on Saturday rather than a league game to follow an away leg in Europe. Most importantly, we have a tight and very capable squad where everyone seems to know his role. If we were a less well organised side, changing a few players would have a bigger effect, I think. Carroll, Bentaleb and Mason would just slot right in. Vorm did a good job at Leicester and has been very good keeper for few seasons now. I think he’ll start Harry tonight, though.

    Thus far, in Europe, we have also played at a tempo a grade or two below the premier league. Fiorentina have slipped a little in terms of performance and results since before the new year, but remain a good and exciting side, with 2-3 very talented lads. I like illicic, Valero and Bernadeschi. They tend to play three at the back, like to hog the ball and try to get the full backs high up, so I think we are likely to let them have it until it gets to where it might hurt us.

    Being in Italy, I very much want Spurs to duff up Fiorentina, but have learned, admittedly quite slowly, after 2 seasons to have faith in Poch. He knows what he’s doing. We must go all out for the FA Cup at least.

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  5. I was certainly one of those fans getting jaded. Not so much with Spurs itself or going to football but the sheer turnover of overrated players I didn’t really care about. But this side is special.
    Sunday was terrific. A dodgy penalty perhaps but in years past, maybe last year certainly two sessions ago, it wouldn’t have mattered. We’d have lost that game 2-1, lacking any real countering ability when under pressure whilst retaining the ability to concede that inevitable last minute goal.
    We have a lot of games left, and I’m conditioned to say that we can still throw it all away in a Spursy run of madness, but even I’m starting to feel ‘something’ could happen this season.
    The thing I’m enjoying most about this season is that it’s a team. Who’s first on the teamsheet – Kane, Lloris, Dier, Ali, Dembele, Alderweirald – who knows? Who cares? I’m just enjoying the ride.

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  6. When I saw Southampton under Poch go to hostile venues I was shocked how unfazed they were at the surroundings. It wasnt one time..you kniw they get a quick goal and get confidence,quieten the crowd etc…They never Heard the crowd.
    Now I know why. Its the discipline..Its focussing.Its putting emotions in a boxm until you can control them.,
    We had a season of slow build ups,last season,until of course Harry Kane gave us our new Gareth and saved our season. But this season is very different. The system has pretty well totally kicked in. Many people easily believe…I dont Im afraid, but Im open to possibilities. We hsve gone from a shambles to maybe tge best defence squad in the league,we have found those links as we venture up the field,it creates the flow,we press and expand at a lightening pace. I havent even mentioned the other team.
    Whatever they hand us is merely a bonus.
    In one and a half seasons the players and I have learned what this system is.
    WOW!!!!!

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    • Hi Ronnie,
      You say “But this season is very different. The system has pretty well totally kicked in.”
      Rather than a system isn’t it that all the lads have now cottoned on to and bought into to the Poch’s way of working. I know it’s rather a philosophical propoundment… but I think it works!

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      • My point really us more about the system being prime.Yes Pochs system. But the system requires tge fitness,requires the pressing,requires the quick passing etc.
        The players however need to create from wiithin the system..which is not easy. As tge system becomes more embeded then the players individual talents will speak more

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  7. As usual another great blog Alan.

    I was at that game when Ballotelli scored the winning penalty and at the game when we beat City to the champions league spot.
    This time round I had to economise on away games and I’ve only been to Palace and Watford away, but kicking me self that I did not witness the City game live.

    Last season I moaned on this site regarding Pochetino’s substitutions, but now I realise he was working on a system that needed to be refined ,and now looks like Poch has tweaked this to perfection.
    Feel like a twat for moaning but I guess this is what being a fan is all about.

    Like you Alan I’ve been going to Spurs for a very long time,since the beginning of the 70’s and, not since the 80’s have I been so confident that we have turned the corner again and hopefully some silverware for us.

    Hope the Mrs is bearing up well and look forward to your next fine blog Alan.

    COY MIGHTY SPURS 🙌

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  8. For the first time in far too long we now have a Tottenham style. For too long we never knew what team would turn up. We could cane the likes of Wigan 9-0 and indeed be a match for anyone on our day. But then turn in rubbish against relegation fodder. That was the old Tottenham. Now we have a method or system or whatever that is uniquely 2016 Spurs. It’s equal measures of desire, teamwork, fitness, talent, pride, belief and consistency – all those things Man City don’t have. What point is talent if it’s not applied for the team? When Sterling does all his work in the middle of the pitch and then hands over responsibility to others in the penalty box it makes a nonsense of the 50 mill or so squandered on this young player who desperately needs a manager like Poch to sort him out.
    Harry is a beast. He accepts the gift of a dubious penalty and faces down the mind games of the England goalkeeper to send a dagger into City’s Hart. Interesting how quickly “Spursy” withered on the vine after it threatened to get stupid traction. Before that it seemed we needed a “winning mentality” to get us up there. Well, we’re there, and we have it. Maybe our tribute to David Bowie should be, “Alan, I’m only dancing”.

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  9. Alan,
    Another wonderful gift of your blog, welcome back, and just in time with the excitement of this young team of overachievers. The video of the players and MP at the end of the match was fabulous, emotional dare I say teary eyed stuff, it was genuine, unrehearsed and so retro.
    I like you see the grind of Europa as a black hole , the away ties so often played in a 1/4 full stadium, passionless is how I describe them , and so difficult for the players to artificially create emotion. Obviously nights at the Lane are very different, but not still Champions league quality. It’s too long a slog even for a CL spot, the football equivalent of Waterloo, Pickett’s charge et al. It should be a 32 team knockout competition.
    How useful would it be to keep up an FA cup run,and take it away from that other lot.
    Keeping the faith, why does it seem so easy the past few games, no sense that we would fold, that the goal would not come, strange days for us Spurs fans, long may they last my friend.
    Ed

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  10. Top stuff – both current Spurs form and your blog. Think I may need a trip to see someone who can counsel me on managing these new found levels of hope and optimism.
    Spurs have reinvigorated our relationship just as it was getting stale!

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  11. Thank you so much for the video link (MP congratulating his men and thanking the fans). For those of us living a whole continent away from the action, and on the fringes of live Sky t.v. coverage and cyberspace, something like this is truly a priceless nugget that we shall definitely save and keep watching again and again!

    And thank you for another excellent blog, from the (blue & lilywhite) heart!

    If Spurs don’t win the title this season, I’ll be happiest if the Foxes do. Good luck to them! But if they want to keep on dreaming, all the way to Matchday 38, let them dream. And let the Hotspur WANT, to make it happen. At this stage of THIS season, we need to focus harder than ever on achieving what has evaded us for so long. We need to want, to crave, to SEE ourselves crossing that line, in May, ahead of everybody else. Dreaming is no longer enough. And it’s good to see that Hunger in our boys’ eyes.

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