No matter where I look, where I turn...I'm surrounded. There's no way out. I must conceded defeat. No escape. I have to accept my fate. Fate being the positivity from the media which is almost as consistent as Tottenham's on field results.
Zombies would have made that opening a little more exciting, I know. Maybe next time.
Whether it's the broadsheets or the tabloids or the journos on Twitter, everyone loves a bit of Spurs. Phil Thompson and Alan Hansen were so giddy in their compliments, I'd imagine they shared a booty call at some point last week just to get it all out of their system.
There has been plenty of title talk from the press. More shocking is that probably for the first time in recorded history (since the very early 80s and 60s) when a Lilywhite speaks the words 'title challenge' when in amongst a group he's not mocked and forced to paint his face in clown colours and waltz up and down the road with everyone pointing and laughing. It might not be possible due to a certain Mancunian project but a challenge is hardly improbable thanks mainly to the continued transitional form of the other former Sky Sports greats. In fact, we're almost beyond that point now when discussing such matters. Rather than 'can we win it?' it's a far more complex conundrum that poses the more relevant question; what do we need to be able to win it?
Probably £100M, and that isn't going to happen.
I'm sort of half jesting anyway. My opinion on this is to aim for top spot because anything directly below it (2nd, 3rd, 4th) will be dancing in the street acceptable. At the start of the season I would have taken fourth. At the start of the season we all thought it would be another long hard struggle. I would have accepted another hard fought, almost nigh impossible bare bone must win every game journey to the final day of the season this time out too. Yet all the early season disarray we struggled with (i.e. that transfer saga) switched on that in-built mechanism we posses to always consider the worst case scenario first, resulting with many knee-jerking away. More so after the opening two results.
I can also remember plenty of 'Has Harry taken us as far as he can?' light-bulbs blinking away in unison. That being the result of our form at the back end of last season which was hardly inspiring. Hindsight tells us the reason was simply due the side requiring new blood. Consolidation. This season has proved that to be correct. More so that with every step taken, further consolidation is required.
We got us the engine room. We got us the complete forward. Wanting to improve further is a sign that the culture of comfort is without air, six foot under.
The most important element of all is most definitely the fact that we held onto our key players. All that belief since Bale's hat-trick in Milan, all the momentum birthed going back further in time to Crouch nodding in the goal at Eastlands...it hasn't been wasted with another blue screen of death and reboot.
What have we won? Well, nothing. But what relevance does that have when we've been achieving something for more important in the long term? We've had to rebuild and this time with not a cowboy in sight.
Doesn't matter, honestly hand on heart, it matters not at all if we/they/them think we can win the title.
What matters is whether the players believe they can. Even if its a day dream or a gentle whispering voice in the back of their heads, it's enough. It's enough for us to challenge at the top. Misplaced, delusional...sure, fives years ago. These days, it seems to be up for grabs. It's not just us with an invitation, there's one or two other clubs out there and their fans who are nowhere near as strong as they once were but could put up a similar argument that its not impossible.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about, displaying ambition. Wanting glory. Neither is acceptable in half-measures. You can't sort of want to oh go on then challenge for anything. You either believe in yourself or you don't.
Fives years ago simply no longer matters other than looking back to it as a reminder of where we once stood. Neither does last season. Even yesterday is history. All focus has to be on tomorrow. The next day. The day after that. And so on.
We don't quite have that experience of the pressures that come with being in a position far more lofty than challenging for 4th whilst looking up from 5th. The winning mentality is fledgling but its one that has many (non-Spurs including) licking their lips with admiration and a little green-eyed jealously. Our opponents might be able to cite that much sought after experience but they gained much of it in days when they only had three other clubs to concern themselves with. Pressure, it doesn't just exist for us. It exists for them too, finding themselves in a place they are accustomed to.
Everyone is fighting each other and having to fight their demons within.
Champions League qualification will no doubt elevate this club to the next level once more, with a solid chance of retaining it the following season (along with retaining those key players that everyone enjoys wanting to link with moves away). That's the target, but this being Spurs, a club that had dreamt for so long...it would be rude not to aim higher. We would dream of CL when we were nothing more than a mid-table side. Now we have a look of a top four side, it's only fair we revel in our confidence.
If we stumble, if we fall...I have complete faith we'll get right back up again, dust ourselves off and continue marching. That's the big test so many of our recent admirers are adding as a caveat in small print embedded subtly alongside their kind words about us. Not that I'm wishing such a thing (the 'L' word) just yet.
Beyond Stoke, beyond the New Year. I can only repeat myself. Sure, we have the best midfield in the country (pound for pound) but regardless of whether we believe our squad depth is sufficient enough say if we did lose a key player or two, we can not take that chance if that chance equates to struggling.
We have to be shrewd and take no prisoners. On the pitch and off it once the transfer window opens. What we've shown is we can grind out results, play without a key player or two. Now just imagine if we strengthen an already very strong first team eleven.
We should not care less about the rest and their problems because they won't care too much about us. As for those kind words. Be certain they will gladly ram it down our throats if we stumbled and failed to get up.
The marker is down.
But having said all this, let's not allow things to bog us down with serious faces and ample chin scratching. Enjoy it for what it is. Tottenham Hotspur playing with style and industry and desire.
Love the shirt.