I don’t care much for all this talk about how the quality of the Premier League has degraded. Mainly because it’s an excuse for those that struggle with the usual suspects not dominating to deflect attention away from the teams that have grafted for better days. You could argue that the way the Prem lined-up in the past decade or so - as high as the quality was from the 'Top 4' the rest were leagues behind. So for the gap to be closing doesn't necessarily mean that we are all worse off for it. The quality is now spread across like butter over many slices of toast, rather than sitting in a closed tub in the fridge.
The fabled monopoly has cracked and spilled over the marble floor and the rest of us are tap dancing gleefully in it, splashing away without a care in the world. It's not butter in this analogy, rather champagne that's lost its fizz. If it did turn out to be butter, we'd all be falling on our backsides.
So tap-dancing is what we dare to do. And why not? This monumental gap that existed for an age continues to be bridged and it’s no longer anything to be scoffed at when asking if shifts in power are ahead of us. Ahead of us they are, hopefully somewhere in the distance towards the horizon. And the sun is unlikely to go down if you keep reaching for that destination.
But that doesn’t mean we – or anyone else for that matter – should take it for granted on the basis that the likes of Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are lesser sides than they were X amount of years back. For one, they still possess the quality and the experience. They might well still have some buttery taste about them. However, there’s always a cycle, a transition – and we are deep in it at the moment. Here's hoping there is no last tango.
Some of the aforementioned clubs will quite possibly recover and reclaim dominance or a share of it. Others might find themselves in far more modest surroundings. It’s opened up no matter how you care to perceive the quality of the Prem from top to bottom. It's evident that if you show desire and push and run with the ball forwards and onwards…you can stake a claim for it. 'It' being a share (rather than dominance).
Aim high because if you don’t someone else will. This is about self-preservation.
I’m hardly going to apologise for any indignities that other rival clubs are suffering. It’s not my fault, for example, if certain clubs have slowly and subtly over a period of time inherited traits that were once associated with say us. Lack of backbone. Delusions of grandeur. Weaknesses in key areas.
Mortality is a hard pill to swallow. Be careful you don't choke on it.
There is no doubting that Tottenham are in the midst of a transitional season. Actually, scrap season and replace it with chapter. Hopefully one with a splendid ending and ample room for a sequel or two. Unlike the transitions we have had to endure in the past resulting from managerial upheavals, this one is of mind, body and soul. You can’t genuinely progress with intent if you don’t experience and grow as individuals and as a team. No ‘i’ in team, but there’s one in unit. You find resolve and redemption from the harsh reality of failure staring you back in the face, be it across many games or just the one. You dig deep. You believe. You make it happen. And whilst you do, you retain a sense of tradition and identity that does not betrayal the club, its history and the supporters. Swagger, swashbuckle and Spurs.
We don’t just play football. We tug at the heart strings of our fan base, plucking a grand orchestral tune that can roller-coaster between beautiful chimes of delight to dark drums of despair. And somewhere in there we kick the ball around. A lot.
Is it an exaggeration that on our day we can beat anyone? Yes. But there would be absolutely no denying that we can produce performances that not only leave us and neutrals enthralled they beg the question – when and how can we do that week in week out? Why do we show guile when coming back into games from a losing position rather than starting them with a cutting edge and making our lives so much more comfortable from the offset?
The answer might be found somewhere near that horizon we’re moving towards. The real answer is probably because it's Spurs and we don't do ordinary.
We’ve had growth of players and acquisitions which have added a touch of the world class about us. We have a side we can actually compare to others that have for so long played on a completely different level. We’ve eradicated many frustrations that have held us back. But it’s not perfect and reminders to the past still dwell on our minds, sometimes with dizzying effect. It's nothing to worry about unless it once more consumes us. But there are far more positives than negatives.
This season has not been consistent. It’s been erratic. But by no means a step backwards or sideways. With thanks to the supporting case of degradation from those around us. Nobody is quite gripping the neck of the Prem and strangling the life out of the rest.
We are contenders for sure. For what exactly depends on one thing and one thing only. Ignore the rest. Forget about their agendas or issues, their form and their results. Whether they fall or fly it’s no consequence because the only fate we control is our own. We'll be contenders for whatever our points tally adds up to. Don't aim for 4th, 3rd etc - just (it's worthy of a repeat) aim high.
We’re going to get stronger. With or without a clipboard. With our without tactics. This renewed spirit has seen us shatter records and overcome obstacles that have left us broken for so long. The Chelsea hoodoo. The Top 4 impossible mission. And now, home (last season) and away – damaging victories over the enemy. Mental strength stands proud and unnerved. Add to it our scintillating Champions League campaign and the fact that sitting six points off the top after fourteen games is – for some – disappointing, tells you that expectations are high. And why should they be anything different?
We're not competing against history. We are not competing against what the standard of the top tier of the Premier League should be like as opposed to what it is at the moment (a confused herd of inconsistency).
We have a squad, not depleted to the bare bones but missing key players. But we endeavour to cope. With many things. The loss of consistent fluidity because of those missing players and the experimentation from 442 to 451 to 442. Hangovers after our European games. It's a learning curve for us; the princes of pretence percolating with pomp. And with the current landscape of English football being what it is, we’re not doing too badly with said curve. We're adapting. Progressing.
Patience is not an excuse to mask over repeated errors. More consistency will breed much needed momentum which will lead to success. A decade of devolution behind us, we are but just two seasons into an evolution. So be patient. We’ve got the best squad players we’ve had in years (decade or two?). If you really want to look around and watch other squad’s age or implode or fragment, if it makes you more comfortable – go ahead. If you want to be wasting your time.
I’ll be watching Tottenham. Swashbuckling to maturity, strengthening our backbone without ever weakening our traditions and heritage.
That sun, in the horizon. Ain't going down any time soon.