Smile

 

Ten games unbeaten in all competitions (on our travels). Our best run since 1985. It doesn't sound like much does it? Yet it's a peak stat that drills home the reality that Tottenham Hotspur are a proper team. Finally, we love to win and rarely look like losing.

Arguably, we've aimed to be a proper team since the days of Martin Jol and season 2006. That's when our football away from home started to spark up and it's improved ever since. It's improved because we dropped the casualness and culture of comfort that dominated most of the 1990s and persisted until the late 2000s. The soft centre, the jelly backbone. The capitulations. The acceptance. It was all slowly and surely replaced with sterner stuff. In body and mind.

I'll ignore the chap that stole Jol's job but from Harry Redknapp to Andre Villas-Boas, regardless of the disappointments - they proved important in our reshaping. Perhaps Juande Ramos should get a mention as he was appointed to lift the team to a new level. Except we hadn't really consolidated the one we stood on. It wasn't strong enough to hold our bloated weight.

This remains, in hindsight, the true flux. The true transitional seasons. From the barren-lands of the Sky Sports era to the arrival of Edgar Davids and beyond. Spurs started to progress and focus. Possibly thanks to the collapse of the sheer dominance of the teams above us. But more so because we started to shift towards controlling our momentum. It was still imperfect and sometimes calamitous but there was enough about us to test those hedonistic heights and banish the vertigo. The dizzying offers of new found fame often left us with a bloody nose.

When Redknapp was replaced with AVB we thought this was the 'Ramos' moment done right. The scientific appointment. The coach that suits the clubs ambition and the impressive Hotspur Way. Except it wasn't for a multitude of reasons. It was an illusion. A risk much like Harry was. But where Harry came in to limit damage and found himself blessed with sleeping giants, Villas-Boas was a Lego piece trying to fit in amongst a jigsaw. Add to the mix a flawed director of football system and you end up with more pretence than potency.

Perhaps because of the stadium build and the strain to source the money to finance it, Daniel Levy has had to pull back from fast-tracking and Mauricio Pochettino is ticking every single box to support a more measured approach.

He promotes youth, he seems to be in a perpetual state of broken English when speaking which limits the potential for unnecessary waffle. When he talks about philosophy it's more than just an empty soundbite. Take a look at the way the squad has been streamlined and is not just tactically disciplined but also spirited unlike any team I've seen in the generations I've followed Spurs.

Maybe it's another accidental stroke of luck but even if it is, who actually cares enough to bemoan the mistakes of the past like they somehow influence the future?

Beating Colchester 4-1 in the FA Cup with comparative sloppy ease was majestic. Granted, back in the 90s I'd be at the cup games whereas modern day me is at home doing the ironing. The only complaint I had pre-match was Harry Kane starting. He could have done with the day off. The team produced minimum quality to send us through to the next round with minimal fuss and complete professionalism. Now look back to that lost decade of hope (91 and 99 aside) and attempt to reminisce about our away form and the cup upsets we suffered.

Granted, we lost a few semi-finals but Spurs always produced a non-performance to make a lowly side ecstatic. One lowly side helping out another. At the time most of us wouldn't admit it, but we stood a million miles away from being even half decent. It was disguised by the fact that we always seemed to have some extraordinarily talented players at the club. I sometimes can't believe we didn't get relegated.

Sure, we can point to the present-day imperfections and moan about this that and the other. And I get I'm flirting with contradiction to compare us with those past teams of supreme failure but if you are blind to how much better we are - right this moment - then you're missing out on the birth and a big fat cigar.

This isn't about claiming a moral victory or crowning statistics as the be all and end all of everything. The 10 game away run is testament to how mature this team is even with its tender average age. Proper team means we're not just capable of doing what Tottenham sides of old did (produce and sign quality players, play memorable games, entertain) but we can back it up with competing consistently and not just on the occasional glory glory night.

I've accepted that every fibre of the football part of the club is being reprogrammed and reconditioned to be everything that those past attempts weren't. To have a spine, a backbone and a tough centre. Now maybe others will mock us for being excited about us finally looking like a team and not a mix and match of class and mediocrity. Let them. Only a select few have managed to be this and be successful. The rest of us have pretty much languished and fought for the scraps.  Being this consistent and mentally strong, can't be ignored.

Poch said it himself that we - as a fanbase - have to believe that anything is possible because we feed into the psyche of the players and club. Which explains our desperation in attempting to fulfil impossible dreams (even back when the team was a mess in the 90s).

The brilliance of it is the fact that Poch hasn't taken long to do what so many before him failed to accomplish. I know, this season isn't over yet and we don't know where we might finish, but it's not just about this season. Why limit ourselves to another desperate deadline? And before you jump all over the word accomplish, I'm referring to the ideals and foundations of what a genuine winning mentality embodies. We've never grafted this hard.

It's not taken Poch long and perhaps he would not have had the opportunity at Spurs if not for those failures. Redknapp, unquestionably, had one of the best sides of our recent history. A team with a short life-span because of how close to the edge of contending we stood. Like so much of what we've produced it has an expiry date based on the fact that the very best players we possess perceive themselves as being too good to remain here. Like we hold them back. Individuals that transcend the team. 

Arguably, we should have achieved so much more with the players we had. I'm okay with it. It's what Spurs do...did. Every so often we go on an adventure. We've done it every decade since the 50s. We now seek something with longevity. That is possibly the hardest thing to wrap our heads around. We've wanted five year plans and aspired for more than a cup run and this time we're building towards that.

What stands out is that if the momentum is held, as a collective, there isn't an expiry date. There's no reason for individuals to feel detached from the rest of the team because of that beautifully uttered word in broken English that gets repeated time and time again: Philosophy. Everything is about the team. It's about Tottenham. It's now a culture of control.

I can't predict what might happen to wreck it all. We know more than most that football is cruel. Live for the moment and create moments should be the ultimate goal. There's so much that has to go in our favour to make history that goes further than a single cup every decade.

It's hardly an easy task to undertake. Look how long it's taken us to get where we are now. And here isn't anywhere near the end destination. Here is the beginning of the journey we've always wanted. The journey we flirted with in 1987 and 2006 and 2010/11. A cup final is the best place to start because it consolidates the winning mentality with the only accolade that matters to the fans. 

We're not empire builders. We've never quite had a dynasty. We do, however, want something more than a tease of greatness. Greatness is more than a one off. Every supporter of any given club will aspire for that. Aside from the elite practically all of the rest will never have the chance to get anywhere near it. This Spurs team see it. It's out of focus up ahead. By a long way. But it's there and they seem utterly undeterred in reaching it.

Perspective is unavoidable. All the little complaints we have, the improvements to key areas...all problems and all good ones to have because solving each of them makes us better. I appreciate the dangers of not speculating enough (especially with transfer targets and a second forward) but if Poch has done what he's done with what he has in under two seasons then dare to look ahead like the team and pretend you can't see it too. One step at a time.

At the start of the season we didn't have enough depth, no defensive midfield and second season syndrome for Harry Kane was pencilled in by many of our own support. Everything we proclaimed to know was turned on its head. Nobody expected us to get this good this quick. It simply illustrates how unpredictable the experience can be and why we default to past indiscretions as a rule of thumb. 

If heartbreak is our eternal destiny then at least this time there's just cause for believing in Tottenham. I'm absolutely in love with this football club again.