Stoke 0 Tottenham 4
It's almost a redundant exercise to blog about Tottenham at the moment because I'll only repeat what I said last week and the week before and the week before that. I've run out of superlatives. It's like owning a Panini sticker album and having nothing but doubles and triples. You've seen it all before.
You know exactly what I'm talking about...
Youngest team in the league, English and Belgian core, relentless desire, mental strength, style and identity, the togetherness and spirit of the players. Add to it a coach that backs up his citations of philosophy with something that exists in reality and not some far fetched fantasy land.
You know this. You've seen it. You've lived it. I did warn you. I'm repeating myself again. I'm serenading a lover with the same beautiful composition, the heart beating a little faster every time I break into song.
Once upon a time all I could fashion was satirical pieces and comedy bits whilst Tottenham pretended to progress. Our fanbase was uneasy, lost in discomfort. Parody softened the blows. Self-depreciation a trademark. We wanted something that wasn't in our reach but we persevered. We tried, bless us, we did try. It was always a fragmented mess in the end. The confused management and ill-advised player acquisition policy. So many false dawns we existed in perpetual darkness. Now the sun basks above us as we praise it.
This time it's different because...well, just because.
Mauricio Pochettino is the perfect coach for our recovery from the previous flawed tenure(s). Be it accidental or otherwise, he's proven his worth by working with the players he had (with some new additions of his own) and instilling an attitude that this club has not seen for the best part of twenty years. Not to discredit Harry Redknapp's two momentous seasons of joy but what we have now is faith in longevity. The foundations and blueprints are tangible and not just characters in a Tweet thumped with delusion. Power shift? No one cares about the neighbours, we're far too self-absorbed with what's going on at home, swinging from the chandeliers, bare naked and drunk.
The faith in youth and the resurgence of experience in this squad is the true fairytale of an extraordinary ascension. The team, individuals - every working cog has purpose and product. There's discipline but it's not overly deliberate and without soul. We swarm and press with intelligence and diligence. They all know their responsibilities. The appointment might have been a risk but the result since has been by design. We have a Spurs side that executes their plan so well that it has me faintly touching myself when no one is looking (and maybe even when they are).
We've don't capitulate. We've been out-classed just twice (in Europe) and perhaps out-lucked and even out-fought in the league with a couple of rare dips in form. When we've lost, we've bounced back. Tenacious Tottenham. If this was Inception you'd be spinning your totem right about now.
We've always had the superstar player that has elevated us above and beyond. We have, on occasions, found a spine (season 2010 into 2011) and competed with pride (2006). But since when have Spurs managed to deliver in every area across the field and still back it up with all the other essential traits, like mental fortitude? Am I being dramatic again? Hell yeah. Tottenham have the best defence in the country. SPIN THAT TRACTRICOID TOP! SPIN IT!
We actually believe in this team - in the philosophy - unlike the downward spirals of the past, it's undeniable that Tottenham have redefined themselves whilst others have lost their sense of identity.
There have been a fair few times where we've claimed to be the most attractive side to watch. But when you're good enough to challenge and you're also playing the best football? Holy sh*t, that's a deadly combination right there. It's the magic formula. I'm not talking about anyone other than Spurs. The formula; to play with flair and precision and ruthlessness and to be consistent. Sheer mythology for generations. The consistency and ruthlessness parts being the missing links.
We can see the changes yet it seems incomprehensible we've achieved so much so quickly because of our seasoned conditioning to expect the worse. It's a minor miracle when compared to the past yet it's completely straightforward when dissected in the present. Sometimes it's about the right man and the right players at the right time. Sometimes it requires disappointment and failed projects before the real change can happen. For some, it never happens. Unlucky for them. The +39 goal difference is a new testament to preach to the masses. Science and faith converging. Even Albert Einstein would approve.
Stoke away simply showcased the journey we've undertaken since the 2-2 draw against them at White Hart Lane. We might not win the league. I understand this concept. I just refuse to admit it until it's impossible.
Lionhearted Harry Kane, a one season wonder for the one season, glorious with touch and curling shot to stick us one up. You knew what he wanted to do, you knew he would do it, you just can't stop him from doing it.
Christian Eriksen, a master-class in the visionary arts, playing an incredible deft pass to Dele Alli for the second. The finish equally majestic. Eriksen should have scored himself, struck the bar when either side might have been the wiser choice. Always looking for the decisive moment to play that killer ball. He might appear to be quiet for ten minute spells but it only takes a second to kill the game.
The enigmatic presence of the prince of press, Erik Lamela, eating up grass like a swarm of locusts, here there and everywhere. Spurs breaking for the third, with the Argentine laying a simple ball for Kane to tap-in. Epitomises what Pochettino wants from his players even if he remains frustrating (for some) to watch. His tempo however is faultless. Sets the pace and helps us retain it.
Add to it an exquisite counter that saw Hugo Lloris, Danny Rose, Eriksen and Kane involved before Alli somehow managed to find the post rather than the net for what would have been an outstanding goal. Almost too much time to think, his body shape not quite balanced to slot it home. It didn't matter much. The fourth followed. A delightfully intuitive strike by the same lad, body shape spot on this time, to volley home. Such a tidy, intelligent player. Floats and stings. He scores the goal the moment he attacks the space.
Spurs with brains and brawn.
It could have been six or seven or more. Tottenham utterly ruthless when stepping up a gear. What more can I say when the game said everything? A team of twenty-somethings playing football and absolutely loving it. Not forgetting the likes of the thinking man's beast Mousa Dembele to the cool and collected duo Jan and Toby, synergy excelling all over the field.
The best moment was Pochettino thumping the ground at two up when we should have made it three. We have a coach that reflects passion into his team that we unequivocally embrace in the stands. The dots connect.
Honestly, it's almost perfect.
Cosmic Spurs and their immaculate persistence to never give it up and you've got me (and you) an emotional volcano coughing up lava whilst the earth shakes. That's the way it's meant to be. This is what we've always aimed to become - a side that plays with flair and style but also with accompanying mettle. Throwing limbs about, this side doesn't just stroke the ball around all pretty and powderpuff. They fight, they swagger and they produce the results.
I don't care about the rest of them, the underachievers. I don't care about how they'll all be back next season. Our momentum was slow brooding early season and has now gone full pelt and can go juggernaut if we keep with the forward motion. Even with our imperfections and the necessity to add some extra depth to key areas - there is no reason for you to sit there and bemoan any aspect of anything. I've said it before, this - even as improbable as it might still be - is what we've never had. So don't waste it now we've got it.
The other week Spurs were ten points adrift of Leicester. Ten points. It's now five. Much like it was with four games left when Manchester City trailed United back in 2012. On paper it doesn't look likely. Paper burns and Spurs are on fire.
I should probably drop the mic and leave it there.
This almost apologetic Premier League season finally has the intensity it deserves. Jamie Vardy's sending off, league champion scarves sold outside the King Power Stadium, the media and their love for the fairytale. Sat opposite all the hyperbole is Tottenham with their superior goal difference, best defence, best attack and arguably the best style. Football doesn't always work out the way it's meant to. The table can tell a fib or two. It can also favour the brave with large dollops of fortune. The intensity is in the buzz of still being involved. That's what we are. Involved. The players are thriving off it. Keep pinching those cheeks.
Because of Leicester's consistency, everyone remains expectant they've already done enough to claim the title. Much like us, it's about not losing nerve. Spurs have pretty much been facing off against old Spurs the entirety of the season, seeking to improve and mature and constantly prove we're a proper team and have evolved. It's not just another short-termism to be chronicled in history as the next little big adventure before we transition for another three or four years and wait for the next surge. Longevity m8. Believe.
This is still all about us looking up and not down.
All those disappointments earlier in the season, those dropped points...unavoidable consequences of the learning curve. It's in the past and it can't be changed. Winning our remaining four games is all we can do. It's still out of our hands but the coolness and composure we're displaying is mind-boggling when compared to every prior rendition of our beloved club. In the end, perhaps there will truly be an echo of glory in failure. It's going to be one noisy echo. I expect to be completely deaf by the time we play Newcastle.
As for this blog and the repetitiveness of my writing? Blame the bromance ongoing at Hotspur Way. Nothing wrong with a bit of rinse and repeat. It's either this or crying about a newly appointed director of football.
So while we sit here and wait for the other team to place down a marker before we can respond during Monday Night Football, we might as well settle back like Messrs Levy and Pochettino and enjoy a glass in anticipation. Probably the only time it's acceptable to have red over white.
Allow me then to raise a toast to Poch.
He has channelled Nikola Tesla, planting light-bulbs in the turf that illuminate with natural electricity. Wondrous stuff. No pigeons, just one mighty Cockerel.