The footballing Gods are once more seeking to mock us. Even when things change, they never really change.
This season of self discovery and identity rebirth that had us chasing top spot till (almost) the very end is now going to be consumed with the usual last day dramatics that have plagued us for years. We're back to having to contend with an Arsenal team eager for personal salvation (and deflection to mask their own failures) for North London's favourite consolation prize. Unlike the desperate past where it was always the be all and end all, this is a cathartic aftermath we could have done without and yet simply cannot escape or ignore. Champions League qualification hasn't even been embraced with celebration, such is the change in mentality in players and supporters.
We are considerably fragile from not quite pushing Leicester until the final weekend. We've lost only five league games all season, perhaps only two that were deserved. The countless score draws remain our bugbear. We can't quite put teams to bed. No fairytale for us. We're staring straight into the eyes of a nightmare.
Finishing above them lot is and will always be important. Subjectively, if I was a neutral I'd probably talk about the psychological impact that has deflated the Spurs players. Who cares about second place when you've missed out on winning the league? It's easy enough for a neutral to think this, what with them not being emotionally invested.
We could talk about just how much it meant to the players, the will to keep on fighting for the title and their desire and determination. All of it evaporated and gone before we lost to Southampton at home. Let's not forget, we forced our way into the lofty position of contending for top spot. We never led, always chased but where others failed to turn up we restored faith where it has rarely existed. The team raised our expectations. It all remains massively deflating, even after you cite all the positives. Some of the learning curves are still not complete. The real intensity has been spent, leaving us with a faux narrative that not a single person has given a sh*t about for most of the season up until now. For the first time the players actions are not matching their words. We've hit the wall. Bloody nose.
Prior to Sunday's game, you might have suggested that a truly experienced, mentally solid and relentless side would dust themselves off from the previous result and focus on that second spot like ruthless professionals. Get it done. Give the supporters a day off come next weekend, where stress and pressure need not materialise. Throw one final grenade, walk away composed. There was no grenade. The only explosion came when Southampton went two one up. Spurs left everything at Stamford Bridge and had nothing to show for it at the Lane. Seventy percent possession? Meaningless, like wearing knuckle dusters but never looking to throw a punch.
There's no excuse, just a brutal jab to the gut. Reality stings.
I'm gutted. I'm struggling for a pick me up. Strange that we've been so confident all season, ignoring those Spursy traits of old, yet suddenly there's doubt creeping back that we'll give it all away again. Hand it to them on a plate. This consolation prize being nothing more than a red carpet charity-do. I'm hoping this negative vibe is because I've not processed the defeat and when I sleep and wake up again, I'll spark up and look ahead. This is another test that needs passing.
I'd hate for them to get the last laugh, even if it's just bragging rights made up of unnecessary mathematics of points accumulated after the season has truly ended for us. It doesn't define the future or change the very recent past. I know that but honestly, right now, it's just about having the opportunity to enjoy the silence. That's basically the essence of it.
I'm certain that if we do it, I won't feel anywhere near as happy as I could have felt back in 2006 and that time under Harry Redknapp. Back then and even since, finishing fourth had the occasional prerequisite meaning we might finish above them. We've grown up this season, we've got eyes on bigger things for next, but rivalry remains eternally raw. Us finishing third would look like an anomaly in context of this campaign, but supporters don't use pragmatism when giving it to their enemies. The record books are the ammunition for all those weapons firing shots. Let's take the bullets away from them.
There is no such thing as just bragging rights. Two decades will confirm that.
The season hasn't ended. Not finishing second doesn't take anything away from everything we've accomplished, but still, not finishing second...it's like wearing box fresh trainers and stepping in sh*t. They look great, you know they look great, everyone else knows it too. They're comfortable as f**k but there's no getting away from the stench you just can't seem to wash off.
The only Gods that matter now is the one the away fans will be standing in come the final day. From above we'll cast judgement.
Kingdom come, Tottenham Hotspur.