Spurs Will Not Crumble

Spurs’ rise to second in the table has been astounding. We have become resilient and relentless, the best defence in the league and always taking the game to our opponents. Now Tottenham face the biggest challenge, maintaining that momentum under intense pressure. Against Swansea they passed the first test.

Nacer Chadli has become an unlikely star. He’s barely been noticeable during a couple of games as makeshift centreforward but since Christmas he’s come up with a steady flow of goals. Sunday’s equaliser could turn out to be the most valuable goal of the season. Just as levels of frustration ratcheted up a few notches as our pressure failed to produce a goal, Walker’s low shot flashed across the box and Chadli expertly turned it in.

At the time I thought it just hit him, or from my vantage point that it might even have been an own goal. Both do him a disservice. He had found space, not easy with Swansea packing the box, and swivelled swiftly and precisely to twist into the perfect body shape to angle the ball home.

In the past I have been critical of his lack of effort or thought. Either way, too often for someone with his talent he does not take up the best positions with or without the ball and waits for things to happen rather than making them happen himself. Pochettino has turned this into a positive. Against Colchester he had more space than he would in the PL and scored twice, while coming on as we chase a goal, we’re not after his defensive qualities. He has more freedom, his team-mates are creating chances and they need him to be on the end of them.

Waves of relief rolled around the ground. It feels like a highly significant moment even now. Spurs’ domination was turning to desperation. Swansea went a goal up then played for an hour with the whole team behind the ball. On several occasions in the second half everyone on the pitch bar Hugo were within 40 yards of their goal.

We had tried everything – the full-backs cutting the ball back from the byline, Fabianski cut out the cross. Shots from close range, Fabianski saved them. Shots from range, Fabianski held on to them so no rebounds or in the case of a Rose shot powered by his anger as he recovered from being fouled yet again, tipped over. Free-kicks, those too, his best save high to his right as Eriksen was on target once again.

An opportunist deflection assumes huge significance, breaking the Swans’ resistance. More than that, it confirmed that our resilience and patience paid off. Those qualities have been crucial to our success this season. We have the mental strength to keep playing if we go a goal down. Spurs have pulled back 17 points this season having been behind. My mind drifted back to the days of AVB. In those situations we looked the same – lots of possession and territory, moving the ball back and forth across the opposition box – but appearances are deceptive. The end result was usually very different with nothing to show for our effort. That’s about belief but also about in-game intelligence. Now we have greater variation rather than bludgeoning ourselves senseless against packed defences. Times have truly changed for the better.

On Sunday, no one epitomised this change more than Christian Eriksen. His prompting and probing were ceaseless in the second half, popping up all over the place including one 60 yard covering run deep into defence when others had been caught upfield. Not everything came off – a couple first half crosses thumped into the crowd behind the goal, miles away from Kane’s head – but the point is, he was always available for his team-mates, always trying to make something happen.

Walker and Rose have both had better games, both were invaluable. Rose was cleaned out every time he made a run in the second half but his persistence paid off. A loose ball after a corner and the shot bounced into the far corner for a precious winner. Walker of course teed up the first. Full-back is a key position for Poch, they repaid his faith in them.

Swansea were ultra-defensive once they scored. Word is getting around the PL – last week Palace broke up the play at every opportunity and disrupted our flow. The Swans did the same, with the keeper time-wasting from about 20 minutes in and conceding a series of free-kicks.

Kane in his mask looked out of sorts, unusually quiet, Lamela quiet too and Son contributed little. Toby was once more outstanding at the back, Hugo kept us in the match with an early save from Siggy. If I have a quibble, that move took the defence apart too easily and for their goal two players had too much room. Versus City and Palace we conceded after not tracking the runner.

I can’t recall a season I have enjoyed more. I’ve seen better players, thrilling matches, I’ve been overwhelmed by the elation of winning a trophy, but for sheer enjoyment this is hard to beat. It’s the perfect storm of emotions. Attacking football the Spurs Way, fearsome motivation from players who are as committed to the cause as the fans, a clever, inspiring manager who has instilled a rare determination and resilience in his squad. Players and fans have never been closer in recent times. And then there’s the extra ingredient – surprise. We didn’t really think it would turn out like this so we’ve watched them grow in wide-eyed wonder.

Now it’s getting serious. I doubt that I will use the word ‘enjoy’ again until the season is over, not if the gut-wrenching, bile-inducing, intestine-unravelling second half if anything to go by. No fun at the top of the table. On the train home my body was ready to shut down and collapse, my brain was whirring so fast that if you had hooked it up to the national grid, you could have cancelled the orders for those Chinese nuclear reactors right then.

At times like this, Tottenham On My Mind and its loyal readership becomes less of a blog and more of a mutual support group. I keep waiting for something to go wrong. Then I look at the league table. It really is possible. There, I’ve said it. We are playing as well as anyone right now and, vitally, these players are not afraid of anyone. Whatever happens, we will not crumble.

Tomorrow against West Ham will be tough – they are as self-confident as we are, in contrast to their dismal showing in the home game. Rest assured Spurs will take the game to our opponents, just as we have all season.

24 thoughts on “Spurs Will Not Crumble

  1. Hi Alan

    Another great write up from one of the best in the business .

    One thing I noticed Saturday was the way we fans were relentless in urging our team on. This reminded me of the late 70’s to 80,s where coming to WHL was a fortress. For me it’s not just being vocal and singing, but very importantly being vocal in urging our team on. We definitely were the 12th man urging the team on, for which I was proud being there to witness the great atmosphere, and may it long continue.

    Just sat down to eat and have lost my appetite as I’ve butterflies in me stomach thinking about going to the Spammers tomorrow and home to Arsenal on Saturday 😑. If we beat these 2 I’m going to eat 2 large shish kebabs from Potters Bar and one large can of Holstens 👅🍺

    Keep up the good work Alan, hope the Mrs is well.

    COY MIGHTY SPURS

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fantastic stuff Alan – and it was almost as draining watching that match on an internet stream, believe me! Fabianski “was man of the match, no?” said Poch, but I think you agree with me that Eriksen was the one the whole game pulsated around.
    Bring on the Hammers. I think we’ll give them a spanking, honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovin’ it 😊
    Love the article 👌🏻
    Loved being there on Saturday :))👍🏻👍🏻
    Lovin the season, obviously 😁
    Lovin the work of our manager 👏🏻👍🏻🙌🏻
    Mc’Lovin is an absolute boy
    One Love to all you fellow Spurs out there
    Just Lovin’ it
    COYS

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Alan
    I too was on the point of having a seizure as Fabianski clawed yet another Eriksen shot away from goal just a centimetre before it crossed the line.
    I thought I’d finally calmed down but your excellent match review has set my heart thumping again.
    Thanks mate!
    My wife is begining to dread match days.
    My kids look at me as I scream at the t.v. with the kind of curiosity normally only afforded to harmless nutters on trains.
    This season is magic and I’m hating every moment of it.

    COYS!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks, Alan

    Write-up right up to your usual magnificent standard. And the bit about the buzzing bile inducing ride home and the intestine-unravelling second half certainly rang a bell with me.

    Keep it up and all the very best to your better half!

    Steve Czyrko

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks Alan,
    Great time to be a Spurs fanatic.
    All the negative stuff from Spurs fans is gone and the positive vibes are fantastic.
    Tough game against Wet Sham tomorrow and on the weekend Arse are there for the taking .
    Keep the dream alive. We can win both comps!!!!
    COYS

    Like

  7. Thanks as ever and Amen Alan.

    We are the best team in the league at the moment. We can do it. We will also drop points along the way, but so will everyone else. I may crumble before the season is out, but this rare group of young, feisty, talented and disciplined Spurs won’t, whether we eventually win it or not. If not we will be there or thereabouts again next season. If this season shows us anything, it’s that just buying the presumed best players (or biggest names) isn’t enough in today’s football.

    I have always hated the recent spursy nonsense and we should reclaim it with Alan’s words above. Spursy = resilient and relentless.

    I love the story doing the rounds of Rose and Lamela out to dinner. While Lamela hasn’t shown the scintillating skills he showed at Roma as often as we’d have liked, the boy is a born competitor and has the mental toughness and resolve that they have all shown. I didn’t think he had a quiet game; I thought he had a decent game again, and was behind many good moments on Sunday.

    Big week, but not decisive one way or the other. 4 pts will be fine.

    Audere est facere

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  8. It was pulsating to watch and both keepers were in fine form. On the hour mark, it was like “Would Fabianski keep EVERYTHING out?”. But we were patient and keep pressing, as if knowing it would reap rewards. And it did. At one point we had SIX players running at their defence in a turnover, I feel the rush of blood. While it’s super exciting to see us this season, I can’t wait for the next when they mature more. But for now, lets enjoy the work of MP, staff and players.

    Like

  9. Hi Alan,
    How things have changed since we had dinner together. Yet amazingly it was not so long ago. In that time so much has changed; testimony to how much difference a truly special manager can still make, even in this modern, mad football world, if he’s special enough; his work ethic, his example, his choice of assistants, his attention to detail, his open mind and desire to keep learning. I am not comparing Poch to Nicholson, any more than I do Dier to Mackay, or Eriksen to White, but I see them as crucial components fitting together to create something special half a century on from the Double. Our youth, the bench, the chosen XI, and the fans once more are, as you put it, as one together – truly passionate.

    I tried to read your blog aloud to my wife, because you express my own thoughts so eloquently. I failed dismally. The lump that came to my throat when I got to your final paragraphs, daring to say what we as a club have singularly not done for too long, brought tears to my eyes. You’re right. The next couple of months will not be enjoyable. They will be agonising. But whatever happens, the words of Keith Burkinshaw no longer haunt us. THFC is a “proper football club” once again.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I was/still am exhausted after game on Sunday. Must admit I went nuts when we got the winner – and never doubted we would.

    Is this happening? It is so much fun watching Spurs this year. I remember going to the last home game against Hull last season and wondering why I still do this.

    This is wonderful – regardless of results and our position in the League I just love this team so much. Watching them play and interact with each other is a joy.

    Leicester drew tonight.

    Crank up the pressure.

    Wham then A…… – what a week.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There’ll be dropped points somewhere along the line, as there will be for all the title challengers (as Leicester showed tonight) but if the team – and the fans! – approach every game with the same intensity and effort as has been shown recently, there can because my few complaints even if it all ends in glorious failure. Lots of broken hearts, but few complaints.
    Keep on keeping on is all we can ask.
    Your blog can provide the equivalent of the counsellors couch if it turns out we are all too traumatized to cope after the next few games 🙂
    Thanks for another enjoyable read

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  12. Thanks, Alan as always a great read and worth the wait. Hope your Mrs. is doing well. As wonderful as this season is, and it is brilliant. The thing I keep thinking is this, our team is so young and so good now, imagine how much better they will be in a season or two. Goosebumps.
    Keep up the good work.

    COYS!!!

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  13. Wonderful stuff, thanks Alan.
    The self-belief running through this team is truly remarkable. Not dissimilar to the Man U class of 92 I feel. If we can come through the next two games unscathed, the dream becomes a good deal more tangible. Harry needs to rediscover his mojo, which he will, and Dembele is reportedly in the frame for the NLD, which is important.
    What a man manager Poch is. The transformation in Mousa, to the point where he is pivotal, simply could not have been foreseen, so erratic had he become over the last few years. Likewise, as “I Know Alan Gilzean” articulates so well, how many of us had written off Lamela? Who could have predicted the type of combative, physically robust player he has become?
    A lot of stern tests await but our boys can meet them head-on and then some.
    Hoping your Mrs continues her recovery apace.
    All the best.

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  14. Unlikely stars and maybe no stars
    just great workers
    just players that join together,fill in,for the system
    We need heroes but the hero may well be the man with the plan
    and the Chairman that took a chance with him
    Who is the superstar this week?
    It will be any of many
    anyone who sees and seizes on the opportunity

    Like

  15. I’ve been thinking about Jimmy Greaves, who’s just been given devastating news.
    I’ve had many heroes at Spurs since becoming a young 10 year old fan in 1962, but when taking interest in football for the first time while watching the World Cup in Chile on grainy B/W TV, the name Greaves to me, then, seemed synonymous with England. His jinksy runs, cheeky intelligence and demeanor on the pitch held me in awe. I discovered he played for a club called Tottenham Hotspur, and this NW London boy’s heart sailed to North London where a team also played in white. That was it. Jimmy Greaves encapsulated everything in football initially, and soon Tottenham also held me in awe. I was aware we finished 2nd in May 1963 (but only fully experienced the excitement of some 3rds and 4ths since), watched on TV as we slaughtered Athletico Madrid in the ECWC, saw my first games live in early 1964, watched in horror as Jimmy missed out on the World Cup’s climax (I remember desperately hoping for a draw in the final, so Jimmy could come back in the replay and show the world what he could still do) but comforted myself watching him be the best ‘striker/poacher’ (and one of the best footballers) in the League over the next two seasons until the spring/summer of 1968.
    Now, my Spurs sit 2nd again …the highest point at this stage of a season since those heady days of 1962/63 ..with a chance to win the title for the first time since I started supporting them. I am proud and happy, whatever may happen, and I hope Jimmy Greaves, in his agony of facing never being able to walk again, gains some consolation from the performance of this fine young Squad at his spiritual home. If we should win it, Alan, we should dedicate this mighty season to the great Jimmy Greaves!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you CB Waters (above), I’ve thought a lot about Jimmy G these past few days. I was born in 1956 and by serendipity my Southampton-supporting father took me (aged 5!) to the charity shield match when Double-winning Spurs played (and beat 3-2) an FA XI that was basically the England team. That was the moment I started supporting Spurs.

      But the moment I absolutely fell in love with my chosen club came 4 months later when we signed somebody called Greaves. I played Subbuteo against myself a lot back then and I always reserved my best moments for “Greaves”. When I started playing footy properly as a kid, and seeing games on black & white TV, or sometimes at WHL on cold grey days, I slowly realised what a player he was. It was an era of great individuals – Mackay and Charlton, Best and Hurst, Law and Moore – and Jimmy was my favourite of them all. “Scoring goals for fun” was a phrase that summed him up as a man as well as a footballer.

      Of course, he had his demons, but he proved wonderfully gifted as a TV presenter, at the forefront of a new kind of TV programme. I’ll never forget a one-liner of his about such-and-such a player “who strikes faster than ASLEF” (a joke about the unions inclination to strike in those days).

      There would be something truly wonderful and circular about Spurs winning the title in this devastating year for Jimmy. He has the courage and fight to come back (from his stroke), modesty, a quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humour, and he was – above all – the definition of “going out and beating the other lot not waiting for them to die of boredom”. All the virtues that our manager and team now demonstrate in abundance.

      I wholeheartedly agree. If we should win the PL, we should dedicate this season to the incomparable James Peter Greaves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish Greavsie had been playing tonight, Charlie.
        Kane looked jaded, and out of sorts, as did quite a few of our players.
        No hunting in packs tonight, and lots of misplaced passes under Wham pressure.
        The Hammers showed the same determination, pressing and resilience that we’ve
        been showing for much of the season, and, even with the Kane chances,
        we deserved little tonight. Hopefully Poch will sort things out for Saturday
        and we’ll be back on track with fresh momentum..but the boys look like they could do with a break
        (which sure ain’t coming any time soon). Getting tight at the top now.
        Thank goodness Woolwich and Citeh lost, but lucky old Man U got away with one.
        How is that club, despite their great win over Arsenal, now level with Citeh in 4th??

        Like

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