Bill Nicholson’s words ring White Hart Lane as a forceful reminder not of faded glory but that Tottenham Hotspur stand for something which transcends winning and losing. They are a call to arms for fans and players alike, where inspiration from our past becomes aspiration for our future.
Those hopes, that ambition will come with us from old ground to new. Perhaps they will be joined by these words from the current custodian of our faith, Mauricio Pochettino. After Saturday’s outstanding away win at Burnley, he said, “Belief is the most important thing in football…Belief and faith and fight. In football, nothing is impossible.” He has built a team that could, just maybe, take its place alongside the great Spurs sides of the last 50 years, sat at the right hand of the incomparable Double team. But like Nicholson, for Tottenham he sees beyond the climactic end to this season. This words are the foundations of his dynasty.
It’s half-time. Burnley have an imperious home record. They fight for every ball, every square inch. Spurs are missing the mighty Dembele, both our first choice full-backs, lynchpins of our formation, and our fabulous centre forward. We aren’t playing well. Wanyama the rock is off, so is the desperately unlucky Harry Winks, a diamond in the raw.
Spurs teams of the past would have written this one off as a bad job. This side, Pochettino’s Spurs, never give up. From adversity came a huge win, a massive boost at the beginning of a month where every last second of football is utterly essential. Belief, and faith, and fight.
Reserves stepping up the mark too. Poor transfer dealings in the summer leave the squad exposed but in Trippier, Davies, Son and now at last Janssen we have able players who want to be part of all this. I wish I could say the same for Sissoko but even he appeared roused at times. These men come in and they know what’s expected of them. They know what to do, where to be and most significantly where their team-mates are.
No blow-by-blow account of this one, which I followed via 5Live and caught up with the extended highlights later. I didn’t need to see the game live to know this was a colossal win. The highlights showed enough to confirm what I’ve been saying for a while now, which is that success or failure this season turns on the form and continuing fitness of the back three. Kane is a monumental loss – we can get by if Toby and Jan stay well, that’s how good they are.
That trio’s third man, Eric Dier, hasn’t been at his best lately. Here, he became the decisive force in the game. Effortlessly switching to defensive midfield in the second half, he drove us forward and repelled the attacks. The manner in which he scored our opening goal says everything about Spurs are right now in a scant moment or two. The ball falls to him from a corner about 8 yards out. Amidst the bodies and the bedlam, rather than blast it (it probably would have gone in), he pauses to pick his spot and sidefoots it between the keeper and the man on the post. Probably is not enough – he made sure it went in and he had the presence of mind to complete. Such is the resilience of this team.
Janssen did well. He fitted in. Understood his role. No goals from him but this is real progress. Son’s role may be as impact sub, although if our injury situation gets worse he may have to give us a bit more. On Saturday, he came at Burnley with fresh legs and was perfectly placed to get on the end of Alli’s improbably good pass, delivered with ease into the Korean’s stride.
Listening to 5Live was an interesting experience. It wasn’t the commentary game – on paper it was more interesting than their choice of Chelsea v Palace, not so as it turned out. So I made do on infrequent updates. I like 5Live – their football Saturdays and commentaries are informative and involved without Talksport’s hysteria or dogmatic presenters (not you Danny Kelly). I was felt aggrieved that they didn’t give Spurs a higher profile. MOTD followed in the same vein. In hindsight, they paid us a real compliment. It’s not about being under the radar, rather it is a mark of their perception of our status as true challengers that an away victory like this one is not considered remarkable.
Perhaps they have a truer grasp of what we can achieve than many of our own supporters. As for me, I can’t quite believe it, all the more reason to relish every second. In the past this game would have been not just a banana skin. This is Spurs, we would have trod on the skin, slipped and spun a triple somersault into the hole we had dug for ourselves. Pochettino has dug proper foundations. Now stay fit my lovely boys, stay fit and let’s see where it takes us.