I'm sat here marveling at how Tottenham's result at Stamford Bridge is some ilk of moral victory for defending champions Chelsea, sat twenty-two points adrift in mid-table after a deeply embarrassing league campaign. Their peak moment, a score draw with us. These are desperate times for many of our rivals, miserable in their attempts (non-existent for some) in sustaining a challenge for the title. Leicester winning it is a blight on all their egos, but don't let that distract you from Spurs and their failure.
Ha, 'failure'. Okay then. Whatever keeps them warm at night.
If it's failure, it's a glorious one at that. Be it, in this instance, a glorious mess.
The WBA draw at the Lane being the truly definitive final nail in the coffin. Our collection of one-pointers across the season is the reason we're sat second and not top. Too often we've not killed games off, but we know this. Fix it and we're pretty much staring at perfection. That's hardly something that's easy to achieve, especially when we had no reason to believe we'd be flirting with it back in August. So once again, we're left looking ahead. As others stagnate, we continue to regenerate.
Our young squad, having lost their chill in the second half collecting a record tally of yellow cards with maddening up front physicality, turned up for the game but forgot to carry the sublime from the first forty-five into the second. Two majestically taken goals cancelled out by surrendering control of ones own composure. The feeling at the death was akin to being a Stark at the Red Wedding. The inauspicious stench kicks in and we're all left seething by something we didn't see coming. The hosts knew exactly what they were doing in slowly winding up the tempo. Still, I can't say I didn't enjoy seeing a Spurs side kick lumps out of Chelsea.
I'm not going to dissect the game. You've seen it, you've lived it. Eric Dier was immense (if the game was taking place in the 1970s). Mousa Dembele also immense (if the game was taking place inside a cage). No need to stamp it all out completely, right Erik? We must know when to step up and when not to. Cynical doesn't suit Spurs, but fighting spirit does. We have players that love the shirt and hate to lose. Bully us no more.
As gutted as I am, I still find myself perversely enjoying how hard Chelsea (and many more in recent weeks) have wanted to stop us from winning. Tremendous effort from teams that have for the most part been utterly disrespectful to their own supporters, slithering along like an apologetic slug melting through salt until they face Spurs and attack like a half-slapped wasp.
The squad we have has grafted to produce a juggernaut of evolution and we've made sure it's progressed with mettle and maturity. The latter a work in progress. Our resolve is tested constantly by those that perceive Tottenham as a threat. As nice it would be to have teams roll over, I'd rather they didn't. We've often drowned in deep water so it's pride inducing to be swimming in a sea of storms, even if on this occasion we've harpooned Moby Dick and disappeared into the horizon.
We're hurting. So are the players and yet this has so often fueled our belief. There's substance in there amongst the style. We've forged ourselves a winners mentality. No ice bucket over the head of the coach this time. Spurs get it. Romanticised echoes of glory aside, they know that true glory comes with silverware. We just need a little more guile and the right balance to find atonement.
Pochettino was magnificent on the touchlines and on the pitch (splitting up Rose and Willian and spitting bars in the aftermath), pumped with passion and still refusing to let go of the near impossible. Go back to the start of his tenure and his constant citations of philosophy. Broken English with an easy to repeat media friendly soundbite. We all thought it was the only sentence he had memorised for the press conferences. Here we are today looking back knowingly that it's more than just words, it's full bloodied action. We've got the right man on the right contract to lead our Young Turks into this never ending war.
This team has bollocks and tenacity. We might have lost it in the overly aggressive atmosphere but it remains a statement that we are a fearless band of brothers seeking to shock and awe. However the occasion did its utmost to distort our destiny with psychological warfare primed to influence for the worst. Deep down everyone knew it was over before Monday night so the boundaries of good taste disintegrated with each passing minute as the violate atmosphere cooked up a cauldron of chaos. A little too reckless for our palate, although I doubt anyone would be complaining had we won. The blood and thunder dynamic needs a little fine tuning for sure. Scoring a third would have settled it. Finding that knack to see a game out, be it 1-0 or 2-0 will come with more experience and quality.
One important note for me was being told (by those that frequent the training facilities) back at the end of last year that Spurs fitness would spike in Jan into Feb and continue, never dropping enough to hurt our performance. Judging by points accumulated since the turn of the year, whatever Poch and his team are doing at Hotspur Way, I praise thee. This season, for a couple of clubs, has been a revelation. There's an abundance of positives to take from it all. It's not over yet. There's still one final story arc to complete.
We're going to be missing a fair few players for the Southampton game thanks to injuries and possible bans. It would be far more painful to lose that game than draw the one we've just played. Although some would say that obsession is equally an act of desperation comparable to the faux celebrations of our demise as being the only other team that dared to challenge. It would still be no fairytale ending (finishing above you know who), regardless of how far-fetched it's appeared in the realm of reality for twenty years. I'd describe it as more of a cathartic conclusion to wash away the despondency.
Fine, I'm underplaying it. A win on Sunday would make us skip and dance, bouncing off the walls like Ren and Stimpy, meaning the final day at Newcastle can be a pressure free day out for the Spurs faithful and their accompanying alcoholic beverages. It would be a fitting end.
So congratulations then to Claudio Ranieri, a manager mocked by so many of the journalists and pundits (including his former clubs and their fanbase) that are now over-dosing in superlatives for the Italian coach. I stand by what I said a few weeks back. The neutrals celebrating their historic victory are mostly fans of Arsenal, Utd, City, Liverpool and Chelsea. A patronising slap on the back from the entitled elite. The neutrals want to deflect and proclaim it's all a fluke, a one off. Leicester are champions only because the giants (the aforementioned group of degenerates) momentarily fell asleep whilst Jack climbed the beanstalk. Leicester surely can't consolidate the same way the big clubs could - is the underlying narrative. Except this might not turn out to be a fluke at all. This might well be the dawn of a new age they've unintentionally ushered in during their bout of narcolepsy.
Leicester and Tottenham are both in the Champions League*. Both have momentum on their side. Both have a clear working ethos that can be built on. How we handle our progress will be interesting much like how Leicester manage the untold fortune they're about to find themselves buried under - along with the way everyone sets up against them next season. The rest are either in transition or in the midst of an identity crisis. That's not to say we can discount any club from causing an upset next time round, considering how 2015/16 has turned out. Even Chelsea, without European football, will be able to refocus their efforts. My opinion hasn't changed for months now. Still reckon we're the best team in the land but it will count for nothing if we don't continue our fledgling journey into 2017. We started slow, there's no excuse this time to do the same in August.
*We can't finish below 3rd spot. Once upon a time qualifying for Europe's elite competition was the promised land and now it feels like a pre-booked city break that was already pencilled in our calender. For the moment it hardly seems important. It is. It will galvanize us tenfold when the group stage begins.
It's been an incredible season and for us one of spectacular enlightenment. Perhaps one too many dark moments (you'll only need the one hand to count them) but we already know that football is cruel and rarely kind. The very fact I feel dejected and a little remorseful says a lot about just how high Mauricio Pochettino and his players have pulled our expectations from practically nothing to within touching distance of the League title. For now, the ribbons on the trophy don't belong to us.