Bolton 1 Spurs 4
An away win, the first since December and our first at Bolton since Sky Sports invented modern football. Okay, so sure, Bolton are awful compared to the bullish physical side that has always made sure we get nothing up there but having comfortably beaten Blackburn at the Lane without having to dig too deep it was good to see us do the same here. Our hosts displayed fight, unlike Rovers. We had a wobble early doors second half, but came through it. A flurry of punches from them failing to do any damage. Three quick uppercuts our response. Floored. I hope they pick themselves up and avoid survive the count.
Emotional stuff before the kick-off with Fabrice walking out onto the pitch. The Spurs Drum was apparently smuggled into the ground, then confiscated after 30 minutes. Spurs won't be too impressed after their explicit instructions that no drum is allowed (home and away). That and the fact the 'Y' rhythm was played. Tut tut. Got next to no chance of ever seeing it return to the Lane.
Our defending is still not that great but going forward we appear to have rediscovered the simple things that can be so effective. Spacial awareness, wingers on the flanks crossing the ball for players attacking the box. Quick precise counters. Smart and tidy one touch from midfield to attack that sees the players instinctively run into space to pass the ball onwards with intent.
A similar confident display (excluding the opening six or so minutes in the second half) away to Villa and it's all smiles with a hearty farewell to that almighty blip that almost killed our season. It still hangs in the balance, but this is a far better position to be in than a month back.
The goal from Luka (from a corner no less) was sublime. Is there a way to fit him into a system so that he isn't anchored too deep? He doesn't score many but when he does he leaves you thinking how many he could score if he played more offensively. Then again, he wouldn't dictate the tempo as much if he found himself lurking outside the box. Perhaps when Spurs are bossing he can sacrifice himself to the giddy heights of the area around the penalty box.
He did make one mistake in the game, leaving Reo-Coker free early in the second half for the equaliser but he made up for it with a brilliant assist releasing Lennon on the opposite flank to cross for Adebayor (3-1). In amongst the goals, a van der Vaart textbook pass into the net (2-1) and another Adebayor close finish from a Bale cross (4-1). Bang, bang bang. All over in the space of nine minutes. Clinical Spurs of the Fall, how I've missed you.
Sandro was again a beast this time without vomit. Adebayor, the paradox, scores and assists across the season (in patches) and has a first touch that has me pulling the hair out of other people (because I have no hair left on my head to pull). But still more effective than anything we've had since the last time we went out and signed a quality forward.
Lennon got better as the game progressed. Bale roamed and swapped but showed how important staying out left can be when the players around him are equally hungry but disciplined positionally. There might not be enough time left in the season to truly capture the rapturous solid full pelt flow of pre-blip, but this might just do. One journalist made a joke on Twitter when Spurs were 1-1 and on the ropes that it was because Harry was being linked to the England job, before the joke cut away with irony (what with Harry no longer linked as the job is gone). Further irony then that Spurs finally woke up which means it must be because there is no possibility of Three Lions, just the one cockerel dusting its self off. No follow up joke from the journo to balance out the comedy digs.
One point is now the monumental gap between us and third although only 4th spot is up for grabs. Woolwich won't drop points (hex). Chelsea look out of it (in terms of a league placing) after two ridiculous Cisse goals (apparently their announcer proclaimed pre-match that Chelsea would move into 4th spot when Spurs lose to Bolton...bless 'em). Pardew's men have the tricky remaining fixtures. I guess the shock would be them beating City on the weekend. Three points at Villa is now imperative. Let's just win the next two games because what happens elsewhere is beyond our control.
So where does this leave us, generally speaking?
Our away record across the past three seasons has been better than anything in the past 20 or so. As good as we've ever had it? Let's bury this fallacy once and for all. It's not as good as we've ever had it. Not when the 1990s and early 2000s were so abject. It's hardly difficult to call this Spurs side the best we've had in a long time when you look back to the ones we've had to endure sitting in mid-table going nowhere fast. We are simply playing to the standard that we've wanted to see since the 1980s left us forever. As good for some fans in their life time, perhaps, but that doesn't mean we gleefully accept and not want to push for more. Why should we be so defeatist ? This should never be about one man's ego but always about Tottenham and what we strive to be and play for. Glory.
It was as good as we've had in the past 20 years when pushing for 4th back in 2010. It's now better than it was that season but there is so much room for improvement, achievable improvement. Seems fairly obvious to me. Aim higher. Get better. Achieve more. Look how far off the top we are and yet we hardly took Europe and the League Cup seriously. Remove uncertainty and bulk the squad up rather than playing a game of cat and mouse nobody can decipher. That's a call to chairman and manager to take responsibility.
Harry is now focused on us having given up on England. Shocker. Although depending on the media, Hodgson and the England players there is no way you can discount another twist in a year or so. So if we are stuck with him, then it's back to accepting his strengths and his failings. Although he is not the most tactically astute or consistent with strategy (which means he might never have it in him to better 4th spot) we still compete. But you can't proclaim a title push one day and then admit we're lucky to be 4th the next. Harry will continue to be a short term custodian of team affairs, from one season to the next, reactive to whatever is happening at any given time. There might be no other manager out there that could do any better, but there might be one that could perhaps plan for the long term and allow this team to make that further step up.
If Levy believes in the gaffer and backs him, then so be it. I'll follow and support. We won't have a choice. Would be the more most prudent fiscal decision to make even if there are many that would prefer someone brand new to take the helm.
For now, I'll happily accept a smug Harry sound-bite on Champions League qualification, telling us all 'told you so'.
For now, all that matters is the next game.
I'm away until Tuesday, might log onto Twitter if I'm sober. Might log onto Twitter if I'm drunk.