Away to Birmingham. Remember this fixture last season? Should have won, conceded late on. Felt dejected at the final whistle, the loss of two points a body blow leaving us winded but hardly down and out. I'd be equally despondent if we drop points again. That marker we keep toying with, it's on the table. It just needs to be pushed inwards a little more. Don't want it falling off.
Birmingham followed by Chelsea, with Twente sandwiched in the middle and then a potential banana skin away to Blackpool before the post-Christmas fixture list snows down on us.
I love this time of year. The games, they come thick and fast. Equally so do the points if we're on top of our form and more so the momentum gained in a short space of time that could elevate us into a lofty position that makes the opening of the transfer window in January one of lip-licking excitement.
Time to apply the pressure on those around us.
Consolidation is only a possibility if we have something to build on which is stronger than just a foundation of hope and promise. Intent and end product. Forgetting Europe, we've won three successive games in the league and we're unbeaten in four. We continue to claw back victory from the jaws of defeat. We continue to perceiver with the loss of key players. There's spirit in this side. And whenever you think (and others hope) we are heading for a crisis we don't. Because that's not our bag any more. Crisis is a strong word, but these days it's altogether a different animal. Remember what a crisis was? We'd not win for five or six games playing dejectable calamity stricken football with our players falling over in their ballet shoes as they whisper to each other, 'I can do it too with Kandoo' whilst we discuss a potential new managerial appointment.
Crisis? Last time out was when we managed a lowly amount of points from a slightly pro-longed run of games. I forget the associated numbers, but I'll look on Facebook later to see if the Relegation Party has retained the finer details. The crux of it is, we were shambolic or always a couple of goals away from forcing ourselves into shambolicistic performances. No backbone and no actual template of structure. Yes Harry is very much a hug 'em type of man-manager. Gets the best out of players, plays them in their best positions and strives to strike a chord with their confidence so that they enjoy their football and believe in themselves and the team. It's expressive, not quite expansive - but it works. And there's continued growth in the side if you look at mentality and focus.
Okay so hands up I admit like you would that this season has been erratic. But an erratic Spurs side of the past would find its self mid-table and unlikely to muster up, say, sixteen points from a losing position. Not that we should be using a team of old as a a gauge of progression. We've been mislead in the past way too often. The standards we set and achieve today should then be placed aside as we continue to improve further. Enjoy pockets of success (beating Arsenal away and ending the run of 68 games against traditional Top 4 opposition by throwing shirts into the stands) but then move on. Don't dwell. Learn from it and then deem it as a non-importance whilst new challenges are tagged with 'seek and destroy'.
A relentless hunger. Is what we should have. Harry having words with Bale over his handshake with an enemy player in the NLD speaks volumes. It might be an obvious characteristic of the teams who have spent the last couple of decades ahead of us, but its something we've lacked. Bite. Selfishness. Preservation of ones self above and beyond anything. We don't quite have that killer instinct. Not yet.
I'd wager you'd have to be a pretty awful coach not to be able to get this Spurs side to do well. Be it clipboard or no clipboard, Harry's approach (get Sherwood, Ferdinand, Parks etc to coach players in groups based on position with Bond and Jordan strutting their stuff on the training pitch) then tell them pre-game in dressing room to run around a lot and kick it in the net might be the most non-illustrious but effective display of keeping it simple tactics the Prem has ever witnessed. But he's not - as some have suggested - winging it. This is top tier football, not pub landlord on the touchline on a frosty morning over at Hackney Marshes.
We have shaped up plenty of times this season to deal with the opposition at hand and have also re-shaped when necessary to combat in-game dynamics. There is so much a manager can get out of his players with expression birthed from confidence. Although there is something very Tottenhamesque about just going out there and playing football, even if it's a giddy mixture of swashbuckle and caviller with heavy doses of dramatic twists and turns. Imagine if Harry was 10% more shrewd. But then we need to keep pinching ourselves and remember this is a new age Spurs. We are surfing high on a learning curve rather being water boarded in another transitional drowning session.
It's easy to be critical because you can easily find yourself susceptible to the weight of expectancy. I said a pretty awful coach you'd be if you failed to get something from this current Spurs squad. What I meant was - we have an abundance of quality players who we can depend on. We look good on paper and just as good on the pitch. So it's a case of managing them and not over-complicating matters. And with each passing game a new obstacle is overcome and a new character trait is added to our ever growing goody bag of colourful traity sweets. No choking here. No sucking either. Just delicious crunchy delights.
You can’t become a winner if you don't win. I know that's the king of understatements but it's obvious that Tottenham have to mature from plucky defiant soldiers to eye of the tiger warriors using the blood of their left for dead opponents as war paint for the next battle. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. Someone once said.
That's why even if we are stepping up to score last minute goals and winning from losing positions - it all counts. And it will all level out to something more controlled because it has to if we want more out of all this gradual progress. I'm certain it will level out to something stronger in time. The fact that a crisis these days is when we drop a couple of points or don't play too well but still win is a statement of progression. Yeah sure it's not open bus parade territory just yet, but let's remember how paralysing the past decade or so has been for everyone outside the monopoly.
Keep it simple.
Birmingham don't score that many at home. We should avoid thinking about Tuesday. Attack 'em.
I want that marker super-glued to the table.