Glory Days for Spurs As the Sun Slowly Sets Over the Lane

On Saturday Spurs swept aside Watford’s increasingly feeble challenge in a blur of flowing football and stunning goals. These are days of magic and wonder. Enjoy every moment, breathe it in and never let go. Another glorious afternoon at the Lane, not many left but this is some swansong.

 

A tight game. Watford depleted but determined, came with a plan. For Spurs, second in the league, the pressure filters into every pass, each stride. We were starting to need a little something from somewhere as Watford were hard to break down. 3 at the back and 5 in midfield to cut down the space. At times they pulled all 11 back without embarrassment but it was their denial of space for Spurs to work on the flanks that was doing the trick. The wide men of their five were an impediment to progress plus their two forwards often split to add their pressure. With the ball they caused a threat early on until Spurs gathered themselves and got hold of the game.

 

And we have Dele Alli. The move started from Lloris’s hands, playing the ball out of defence not kicking it, through several pairs of feet, to Dembele. He rumbles forward as he did so frequently. He’s stopped only with a foul but the ref plays on because we have Dele Alli. He’s on the ball, checks then switches it on to his right foot and curls it left to right, boot to top corner.

 

It’s an instant of daring and outrageous talent, executed with the nonchalance that only star quality can carry off. He jogs back towards us on the Shelf and, in those few moments before he’s engulfed by elated team-mates he becomes a boy again, not yet 21, fresh-faced and bright-eyed. Not the table, the TV, the crowd’s roar, just the joy of doing that with a football. World football sits up to take notice, he’s that good. To me, he’s still a kid. One of our family, let’s look after him and as we would with own flesh and blood, encourage him to be the best he can be yet not burden him with unrealistic expectation.

 

All this is becoming a bit much. I have barely caught my breath after the late goal-rush at Swansea, now four more. In normal times, each one would become a talking point, 3 candidates for goal of the season. Except these are not normal times, these are Spurs’ salad days. Unbeaten at home all season, just another Saturday. I have been transported beyond excitement into a better place, a state of heightened consciousness where celebrating a goal somehow doesn’t do it justice. Alli into the top corner after a move that began in our 6 yard box. I leapt up and saluted the sky with both hands. Clapping? How does that come anywhere close to acknowledging this gem? Later, Son galloping onto Trippier’s cross, first time, drilled into the bottom corner without breaking stride. How many times to we see players fluff their lines in similar scenes? Shanked, yes, defender’s arse of course, row Z commonplace. On Saturday we were beyond all that. Clapping?

 

After Alli’s opener, Watford folded and sank without trace. Spurs’ regaining the initiative coincided with Trippier forcing his way into space on the right. He was terrific going forward – he didn’t have to defend for the last hour – and changed the game, his first time crosses quickly becoming his trademark. He could easily have had three or four assists.

 

Dier banged in the second, edge of the box as the ball fell to him. Composed and unobtrusively influential, he’s clearly a better DM than CB and we benefit from his passing ability.

 

Son on the run, should have passed, thank goodness he didn’t. A lovely goal, low to Gomes’ right. Spurs were rampant.

 

The trials and tribulations of Vincent Janssen. Vinny’s confidence has increased, or, better, he’s playing with purpose that stems from a grasp of his role within the team. It’s less of the hold-up play, more an early touch but it’s as much the players making the runs past him as the quality of the touch itself that makes him more effective.

 

But it’s goals we would like. His trials. First half-opportunity, he’s off-balance as he receives Eriksen’s firm pass and it spins off his toe. Second glimpse, balanced now, he deceives his marker with a brilliant turn but misses the chance one on one with Gomes. Then, an awkward ball perhaps but it’s over the bar when his boots were white from goal line paint. A miss of Acimovic proportions.

 

When Spurs have been playing well over the seasons this blog has been active, I always invoke the Tottenham on My Mind mantra, enjoy it while you can. Occasionally I’ve posed another question in an attempt to put it into context – what does a top class team really look like? Think of those really top teams, Manchester United and Liverpool, who won so much over in my time as a football fan. (Best not think about the other half of north London, mind).

 

For the first time, the answer can be found at home. Outstanding flowing football, redoubtable and intelligent defence, resilience to put up a fight even if we do get beaten and to carry us to improbable, joyous victory when we win. Goals in the murky depths of the game – three wins this season after trailing on 88 minutes. Goals from nothing to break the deadlock, as on Saturday. Steamrolling sides in the first half. Or just sticking at it in the belief that goals will come.

 

Faith too that goals will not be easily given away. Alli and Son rightfully take the plaudits but it’s Alderweireld and Vertonghen who are our rocks, the concrete beneath our feet. Stats can be used in any way you want (so I will) but one I saw this week was that Spurs have not conceded a goal this season from a direct central pass.

 

These are the characteristics of a top class football team. The ability to win from all angles, the belief that anything is possible, trust and conviction in themselves and their team-mates. Comparisons with individuals from the Double side in the comments of last week’s piece may be unfair because Spurs have countless great individuals who have worn the shirt with pride, but this is as good a Spurs team as I have ever seen, certainly the most consistent.

 

Social media is full of the sniping of supporters from other teams, especially those of our London rivals. Tottenham have always been targets. What really irks these fans is that we’re good. They can’t bear it and find endless ways of trying to prove we’re not.

 

If we’re so easily dismissed, how come we demand so much of their attention? I’d suggest envy plays a large part if only these fans had the emotional intelligence to suss themselves. A club living within their means, building a fabulous new ground, playing attacking entertaining football with a side that costs less than Paul Pogba. Above all, and this counts for fans, they are committed to Tottenham Hotspur. Their egos, and all top players have at a least of trace of arrogance, are channelled for the greater good. They are close to us, they celebrate with us, they are us. As Pochettino says, the shirt comes first. It makes being a Spurs fan different.

 

I followed the Swansea win first through BBC London’s excellent coverage and then on my stream about 5 minutes behind. Headphones on, I celebrated quietly on the sofa as my wife was engrossed in Question Time.  A few minutes later, I wandered upstairs to take a moment to myself and I confess I was a little overcome. Unashamedly, these are glory days. Three more to go at the Lane. Just when you think the old girl has seen it all, she’s full of life to the very last. This is some swansong.

 

 

41 thoughts on “Glory Days for Spurs As the Sun Slowly Sets Over the Lane

  1. As our team makes our hearts sing with joy, so too your eloquent words, Alan, long may both continue. As always thank you for putting into words our thoughts and feelings, for our Club, our one and only Club.

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  2. Glory Glory and Amen. The Lane has given us 44 of 48 available points this season. You could not ask for a better parting gift now onward and upward to the next level.

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  3. Lovely account Al. Worthy of this team and this season.

    For the first time in 30 years I feel we are on the edge of greatness. Poch is the key. He has worked wonders with the resources at his disposal. If I was offered the chance to have him as manager for the whole of his career I’d take it in an instant. He is right – it is about the badge on the front not the name on the back.

    If we keep hold of Poch I’m convinced we can keep this team together. If Levt supports him in the transfer makrket the sky is the limit.

    We’ve got here by doing things the right way. We’d only ever step up a level by building a new stadium or having an oligarch or a sheik. I’m glad we did the former. Hat tip to Daniel Levy.

    3 to go. I’m so so sad. It has to happen but nothing can ever replace that wonderful old stadium. Wherever else I have lived I t has been my second home since 1976. Poch and the boys are giving us the best possible send off. There will be tears.

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    • There will indeed be tears. Agree totally re MP’s impact, not just on the field but he gets the heritage, the value of the club to its’ supporters and respects that. This is glorious, what is to come could be even better…
      Cheers, Al

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  4. Thanks Alan, great read as usual.
    It gets better and better!! Palace 3 Arse 0,
    How sweet it is!!!
    Next weekend is so important. We really need Man U to beat Chelsea to keep our dream alive for the double. If Chelsea win it’s probably 2nd for the mighty Spurs

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  5. Quality stuff. And the football has not been bad either!

    I salute you being mature enough to quietly celebrate the Swansea victory in your living room , with your headphones on. In my living room, when Son scored the delightful second goal, I was running around doing my best ‘Marco Tardelli scoring in the 1982 World Cup Final’ impression!

    Since that game in Swansea I have watched and re-watched those 3 goals. What struck me most, and what I just love watching again and again , is the absolute and total joy expressed by players and fans alike after the second and third goals. There was a total explosion of relief and ecstatic celebration and it was great to think, that just at that moment, every Spurs supporter had a big smile on their face irrespective of any problems life was throwing at them (within reason). And boy, how I envied those fans behind Fabianski’ s goal.

    Incidentally, despite my gut wrenching as time ticked away , as I too listened to BBC radio London, I did laugh as the commentator abandoned all pretence of impartiality, repeatedly accusing Fabianski of milking the treatment for his injury!

    Another performance of similar standing v Bournemouth and that’s all we can ask for.
    Cheers, DB.

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    • Thanks Danny. My body stayed still but I did the Tardelli in my head. Spot re the celebrations – they are us. Feel the same way as we do.

      Nick Godwin on BBC London was superb – loved the Fabianski moment! He’s very chatty on twitter, always replies, nice bloke. I thanked him for bringing the excitement of the game to his commentary.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. Tottenham? They complete me. I’m so happy that we have Poch. going about his business without the histrionics of Conte and Klopp, or the pouting Mourinho looking to blame everyone but himself and slagging off his players in public. Wenger looked old and worn out at Palace tonight and his ego is holding his team back. But we have a team playing for its manager and each other and enjoying the contest. Remember that this team was without Wanyama and Rose and Kane (for the most part) but it didn’t matter. They played like winners and hopefully it’ll spill over against Arsenal, United and Chelsea in the next few weeks. I ‘feel’ for Vinny Janssen. His hold up play is generally excellent but his job is to score goals and so he must be joined or replaced by a striker of true European quality if we are to improve on our European showing. Eriksen has come on a ton. Before Christmas he didn’t show up well against the bigger teams and would disappear for large parts of games. This year he is much more involved and starting to ‘boss’ games from start to finish. Even tackling, too! Salad Days, indeed. Bournemouth next, so hopefully we can put a Cherry on top!

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    • Love Poch, love him even more compared with his peers. I can’t believe Jose’s schtick still makes headline, don’t think he believes it either, and the media obsession with Klopp undermines an interesting character. Wenger is burnt out but pride means he can’t see it. Wouldn’t exchange our lot for anyone.
      Delighted you are obviously enjoying it as much I am David.

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  7. Fantastic piece Alan. Something special is happening and, just like Sergio Garcia last night, let us hope and pray that we can hold our nerve when it comes to the crunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Ashley, means a lot. Hope the LA Spurs are bouncing in the sun. This isn’t la la land, it’s real life my friend, could not be more real.

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  8. Reading this in my office at work (well I am allowed a coffee break)and I’m feeling very emotional. Your article perfectly sums up my feelings for this club at the moment Alan. Thanks for finding the words. I’ll be at the lane for the last three matches looking forward to the future but sad for what we will be missing.

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    • Thanks very much Martin. As comes over, it is an emotional time for me too as I approach 50 years at the Lane. I too will be there for the final three. The team will lift us if they keep this up.

      Regards, Alan

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  9. What an outstanding piece Alan – it sums up all and everything about the way I feel about MY team. Each of us Spurs claim it is MY team – of course it is, undeniably and paradoxically it’s OUR team too. I bloody LOVE them to bits and have done and will do for ever. Even the bad days had the odd time when I felt good (not many perhaps, but some) but this is becoming something else. 2nd place this year ? so what – I feel good.

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  10. These are days of magic and wonder. Enjoy every moment, breathe it in and never let go. iis so easy
    Thanks for reminding us of this – every minute is to be enjoyed.

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  11. I will miss the lane all my childhood memories of Baily,Medley, Nicholson and Duquemin and being in the ground against West Brom nearly 72,000 that day the roars were deafning,and must not for get the night we won div 1 that wonderful double side something I will never forget

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  12. There’s almost an inevitability in the way we crank it up in games. Building until the opposing
    team can no longer withstand our pressure. It may happen quickly in games for us, but the
    knowledge that we can, with half an hour to go, and with us either level or behind, exert immense pressure on our opponents and produce (throughout the team) such skills and determination that will win us the game is thrilling, and as good as anything I’ve witnessed in my 54 years as a Spurs fan ..since that joyous 1963 spring night I watched on TV these ‘ghosts’ in all-white (not just our own Scottish ‘Ghost’, John White). That wonderful team enthralled this small boy, despite the small grainy black and white images, as they thrashed Athletico Madrid 5-1 in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final (thus becoming the first British team to win a major European trophy).
    Talking of my love for the club since, I’ve been used to seeing flair in our sides throughout the years, individual brilliance often winning us league games and cup glory, player combinations in some areas of the pitch that were as good as any on earth ..yet NEVER have I witnessed a ‘TEAM’ such as this! A team with such consistency (all top drawer individuals prepared to work and fight for each other) with such balance and flow throughout ..from goalkeeper and defense through midfleld and flanks to cutting edge in the final third. It’s like they’re carrying Poch’s brain and vision onto the pitch (no comparison meant with Mourinho and the unfortunate Luke Shaw).
    And that’s the point. For years we, as Spurs fans, have bemoaned the lack of balance in our teams.
    Bemoaned that whenever we get great individuals like Modric or Bale, we don’t back it up with (near) equal strength all over the park. It was the same with Hoddle, Gazza, Ardiles, Lineker, Waddle, Klinsman, Sheringham, King, Ginola and others before them. At many times, all those ‘greats’ played with players who, frankly, shouldn’t have been in a Spurs’ shirt. We even took on our share of ‘once great’ has-beens, which did us no good whatsoever. Right now tho’, I can only think of one player who shouldn’t be at the club, but why dwell on that when I can celebrate the fact that all over the park, and throughout our squad, we now have superb skill, determination, strength and balance. Poch has done that. He’s made nearly all of these players what they are. All of them fighting for team (not individual) plaudits!! Yes, even Jannsen ..and I hope we keep him, as I hope we keep them all! Because they fit in to Poch’s plan! If some leave, as many will be tempted to by the sirens of Real Madrid, Barca, PSG and the like, will they ever feel like they do now??? NO! Apart from the extra money, which they really don’t need as young men in their ambitious footballing prime, can Man U or Chelsea or City give them the same feeling of togetherness that they’re currently experiencing? NO! They are all growing together, and if and when one slips out, the ideal Poch replacement must slip in seamlessly. This Tottenham also represents a different type of Glory to what we’ve been used to as fans over the years. Oh, I hope beyond hope we can win the FA Cup (50 years since the only other successful year ending in 7 when I was at Wembley to see us beating Chelsea ..and the disappointment of losing 30 years back to Coventry) because this young team and their manager deserve it. However, it’s now more about consistency in the PL and beyond – ie the Champions League! The potential glory of knowing that even the best teams around Europe, not just in England, will fear us, and there’ll be no more of ‘it’s only Tottenham’ as Fergie used to say! No more of Spurs being just a cup team! No more talk of attacking football but brittleness in defense and spirit! In the past 20 years, every time we built up solid foundations, we sold our best and/or bought poor replacements. Every time glory looked like it was beckoning us ..it faded as a desert mirage. We were forever dismantling and then building for the future!!
    But no more. The future has arrived. And yes, we can overtake the money bags of Chelsea and City because we’ll keep and get players in future who truly want to play our way. We can also put the Arsenal competition to one side as we used to, and we can begin to try and emulate the reputation of Man U and Liverpool all over the world. All because we’re a sleeping giant that’s now rubbing its eyes on waking, seeing and saying ‘Oh, Brave New World, that hath such creatures in it!’ And in Levy, our new stadium, our wonderful squad and our brilliant manager, we have it in us to truly emulate and even surpass those days in the 1960s ..not simply the occasional and periodic times since ..when the very name Tottenham Hotspur resounded with GLORY!

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  13. Two great games, a lovely piece of writing and some fantastic memories shared in the comments. My own was watching Tony Parks save THAT penalty, standing behind the goal at The Lane. We’ll miss the old ground but we’ll make the new stadium a fortress. It’s why I’m a Spurs fan.

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  14. Alan,
    I love this post, it strikes so many chords, perfect pitch. Something so poetic about this Spurs team, the beautiful flowing play, the ability to switch up formations and goals of inordinate quality. A team built on the solid foundation of Poch, who would not run through a wall for this man, respect and quiet confidence, not the hysteronics of Klopp, cyclothymia of Pep or grumbled musing of Mourinho. I would trade him for nobody. The holy trinity: team, club, badge! No me! Look at out wunderkind, since his Wembley red card, he has matured, one of the few word class English players.
    Groundhog Day at the Lane, lets keep it rolling, she deserves her day in the sun, and it seems that Spurs are committed to giving her the appropriate goodbye. Just like the blog Alan, your best work, rolling out the red carpet for N17, in my little football backwater in Upstate NY you have made me smile, think and even tear up, for that I salute you.
    Oh how I would love to see a clean sweep through the final few games, while this maybe selfish , I think we deserve it my friend!
    Ed

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    • Thanks very much Ed, pleased the joy is reaching out across the ocean. You are living through one of the very best times to be a Spurs fan, certainly in the last five decades. Drink it all in!

      All the best, Alan

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