The celebrations extended beyond the final whistle as people wanted to stay in that feeling, partly to honour one of our own, but before that, to savour a win for its own sake and the manner in which it was achieved. Players giving everything, digging in for the shirt, and the fans responding. It was like rekindling the pleasures of a long-term relationship with a date night. Just the two of us, fans and the team. There are other implications, for the league table, the team’s progress, but blank all that out and savour the win and the performance for its own sake.
We needed that. Let’s be honest, many performances this season have hardly been inspiring. Yet here we were, defending that goal as if our fate depended on it, that feeling of anticipation crackling through the crowd as we broke on the counter, where all things were once again possible. That feeling near the hour mark, goal up and we’ve suppressed any post-half time City revival. The players need us so get behind the lads. The involvement, the shared passion. I’m leaning forward (getting a foot closer will make the difference), cursing each error, sensing the judder of every challenge, cheering the slightest success. How I’ve missed that at home games this season.
Congratulations and plaudits all around. Every individual gave everything they had. I confess I’ve not seen it when people say Emerson would be a decent full-back, as opposed to a wing-back, but he proved me wrong with a top-level performance. There’s something irradicably frantic about him, the ball’s never quite under control, but from his whirling limbs emerged a top-quality game, limiting Grealish’s effectiveness and eager to burst forward when he could, taking up some unusual positions that posed extra problems for the City defence. His work at the far post as City stretched us was potentially match-saving, in particular a header under pressure in the first half. Booed cruelly by his own fans, slated for replacement, to come out and play like that against one of Europe’s best sides deserves my utmost admiration. Praise too for Hojbjerg, born for this sort of midfield confrontation, and the underrated Davies. We need a dominant centre half, sure, but here’s Davies, toe in, tidy up, be there first.
Romero always treads the fine line between imposing himself on his man and going too far. It’s part of his game, something we mere mortals cannot fully grasp, how he and other top defenders can get booked then back themselves to play three-quarters of a game knowing one mistake is crucial. But the first tackle was reckless and unnecessary, I said so at the time. Against City, you have to keep a booking or two in reserve for the last 10 minutes.
At the other end, we should have scored more, given a fraction more composure with the final ball. Harry always a danger, Kulu not quite at the top of his game right now but working hard to link up and Sonny finding his touch again.
It comes on the back of two less spectacular but important wins against Preston and Fulham, where we successfully defended a one goal lead without playing noticeably well. We stifled Fulham, a well-organised, front-foot side, and made sure they never got going. After the crushing defeats versus AFC and City away, Conte and the players met to get a few things out in the open, notably a search for our lost defensive form and questioning our sluggish efforts of late. Yesterday’s match is a sign the reboot is effective. We were determined in every challenge. The back three stayed tight, whereas in the away fixture, we were easily distracted by Alvarez‘s movement and the gaps opened up. The wingbacks were fearless in attack, while Harry was able to drop deeper when needed (he’s been staying further forward lately). We played as a team, a team that wanted to win rather than one that hoped to win.
Perhaps Conte took his own words to heart. His fierce ebullience has been noticeably absent from the touchline of late and like our defence, his press conferences have been all over the place. He’s had a hard time of it personally with the loss of two close friends and contemporaries, and now his operation. We need him to return refreshed and reinvigorated. I wouldn’t wish his condition on anyone, but the enforced peace of bedrest may help his healing process and refocus on the future
This augers well for the future but a note of caution. City’s style suits us because they leave space to play in midfield and they get men forward so the counterattack, one of our strengths when Son is on it, becomes a potent weapon. Our problem lies with teams that close us down and outnumber us in midfield. Also, in these three games, we went a goal up and fought to keep that lead. Will we continue with the tactic of hanging back early on? I hope not. None of the other top sides do, after all. We look like a team ready to defend a lead to the last, rather than one better at fighting to chase.
Harry’s wonderful. I haven’t said so enough lately, but never take him for granted. His true greatness will be evident only with the passing of time and the perspective of history, but stay in the present and relish every moment.
All great players have something special and unique about them. Harry’s isn’t immediately apparent. He lacks the grace, style and presence of other top-class footballers. But watch as he contorts his entire body to get the optimal point of contact with the ball, head or foot. You may not notice because he makes it appear straightforward, but watch. It’s born from a total focus on doing it right and being the best he can be.
Without question he has a place in the best Spurs XI of my lifetime, ahead of the revered Gilzean and Chivers, and alongside the finest of them all, Jimmy Greaves. Close your eyes and imagine that partnership up front, Kane and Greaves. I am blessed to have seen them both. The roar from all round the ground as he trotted back to the centre circle after scoring, that was something to treasure. Time for a considered appraisal when he retires. For now, I think of the goals still to be scored.
I’m drawn to the words of the great Francesco Totti, another one-club man: “I definitely could have won more trophies elsewhere but my greatest triumph is my loyalty to Roma.” An entire generation of younger fans have no idea what that means, but we do. We are Spurs, we feel it, and so does Harry.
8 thoughts on “Reset Reboot Remodel. Spurs Find Themselves Again”
Fantastic game that reminded me of those old F. A. cup ties of years past when both teams went at each other for 90 minutes with the game getting more frantic – if we weren’t defending on our goal line then our forwards were running into their goalposts in their efforts to score.
It’s a strange season with fluke results coming out of nowhere. After ‘Toon’s recent run and our mini collapse you’d think we are out of it, but -bizarrely – we are just one win away from overhauling them (they still have a game in hand). And don’t forget we have exactly the same number of points as at this stage last season. As you say, this might be the time when Toni comes back and the engine clicks back into gear.
I’m conflicted about Harry because it means I have to readjust my hero worship of Greaves. I still recall taking one for the team back in the early 60’s: my bedroom wall was covered in clippings of his heroics torn from Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and sellotaped to the plaster. My mum ordered me to take them all down to allow her to repaint the wall. Before the paint was dry I’d stuck them all back on the wall, resulting in a thick ear. Now I shall have to get an autographed pic of Harry to put next to Jim on my Wall of Fame. How lucky are we to have been thrilled by two of the game’s best?
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Great piece Alan. You captured the feeling perfectly. Those couple of hours yesterday were uplifting and quite joyous. Everything fell into place: the performance, the battle, the 267th, Emerson, the win, Aaron, Coyty, Danny Greaves, the atmosphere, the positivity and the reminder, for the many who needed it, that supporting your team is supposed to be fun, intense, communal and, on occasion (certainly not always) bloody great.
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Alan, you captured it so well, one of those moments of “Glory” that Danny boy talked about, about doing it with style, how did it go: “The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” Harry, the supporting crew, and the fans there and round the world reveled in those glorious moments on Sunday—kind of like life, as you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just may get what you need!
What a performance from Emerson and what a way to answer the boo-boys.
Full credit to Hojbjerg for that inspirational interception which crafted Harry’s #267.
What a fine video speech by Danny Greaves. Nice touch from the family.
I reckon Jimmy would have loved seeing his astonishing record finally broken and would be wishing Harry many more goals to come. A new contract for Harry must be Levy’s next priority. Give him what he asks for. Give him shares in the club. Anything!
Excellent and evocative piece, thanks Alan.
Super Harry Kane.
Thank you Alan. Such an uplifting game and result. So great that you were there. I hope this is the season’s turning point. COYS!!
Youâve done it again Alan â a perfect summary of the match and what Harry Kane means to all of us. Thank you!
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Thanks for articulating our very thoughts. I’ve been trying to figure out our strange first half of the season. My thoughts and hunch is that the collective (i.e. the team) was simply out -of -form.
Here is to hoping that we are over that hump.