From bare bones to back bone
West Ham and Chelsea up next for Tottenham with a trip to Azerbaijan squeezed in-between, you wouldn't blame most for being cautious with our remaining November fixtures. It's no life to live in fear, which is why I'm positively beaming with pride after England's 2-0 win over France at Wembley. Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Dele Alli - all immaculate in performance in what was a poignant build up to this friendly that struck heart warming solidarity in the moments before the game kicked off.
With the sombre mood and initial focus away from the actual football, it soon proved to be a competitive match and one that showcased the talents that have blossomed under the guidance and development of Mauricio Pochettino that Roy Hodgson is now enjoying. I've had a complicated relationship with England and can't say I've been truly in love with the national side since the 1990s. It's hypocritical that I find myself looking her way again just because of the Spurs contingent. But I don't care.
This isn't just about Alli's 'close to faultless' performance. It's not about his beautifully weighted strike that flew past his club team mate Hugo Lloris or the take no prisoners ball winning challenge that started the move. It was also not about his energetic box to box ethic or the way he stood up and brushed aside Paul Pogba, sending Raheem Sterling through to cross for Wayne Rooney's excellent volleyed goal. It's about the journey he's taken to get here. His ascension in the Championship with MK Dons. The nerve to settle into the Spurs side and the pace of the Premier League. He might be raw but there's enough spark to know he's a diamond.
Alli is looking like turning into what Jermaine Jenas was every time he played against Arsenal but Alli is going to do it against everyone. You can be an athlete and have ability but to solidify your presence and influence games you have to gel it together with application. Early days, right? But let's not pretend the kid doesn't have the temperament and technique to go all the way.
Usually, I'd worry about the collection of Man of the Match awards and the hype train the media will no doubt jump on. Usually. Pochettino has this understated presence, this pull of gravity that keeps feet firmly on the ground. No giddy floating or unnecessary internal hyperbole. Let them outside the club hype us up. Our players appear to be cool, calm and collected - seeking to improve rather than lose themselves in ego. I guess maybe I'm doing some hyping here myself, but I'm not quite at the stage of tattooing the faces of the class of '15/16 on my shaved chest. I see the potential and it's dancing with reality rather than fantasy.
Not enough depth in the Spurs central midfield, we all said early season. I didn't quite expect this. I didn't expect Eric Dier. If Erik Lamela is the poster boy for the Poch Press, Dier is the king of the understated. Much like his coach, he gets on with the job - minimal fuss, no kidology or fanfare or soundbites.
Dier has been a majestic brute of a footballer. The interim that became the boss. He's no stranger to midfield duties having played there for Sporting CP, but kudos to him and our coaching team for a quite stunning transformation. He's meant to be a centre-back and he's now owning the space ahead of the back four. Dier is the type of player that we've so often hated when facing opposing sides. Aggressive and assertive, much like Alli - both players are mature beyond their age, fuelling unlimited composure. Reminiscent of Nabil Bentaleb in attitude. No fear.
As for Kane? The boy has a heart the size of any given stadium he plays in. He's a bit of a number 9, he's a bit of a number 10. He's technical, he's selfless. He's another that just wasn't expected to craft his way to such pulsating prominence. When he wasn't scoring during that patch he was still grafting. To be fair, he never stops grafting. Which makes me religious with belief he'll improve tenfold.
I'm getting excited again. I'll calm down a touch.
The one thing they all have in common? They lead by example.
Pochettino still has November and then the festive period to contend with. Never say never to new experienced blood in January. Burn out will always be a concern. Bentaleb and Ryan Mason still key to rotation. Mousa Dembele and the returning Son Heung-min equally vital for the battles ahead, the former to combat in the middle and the latter to offer an alternative strike force up front.
Erik Lamela (suspended on Sunday) is of course the reinvented, rebooted disciple of discipline. In fact, there's crunchy goodness to feast on, everywhere you look. Kyle Walker's consistency. Danny Rose and his fight. Toby in defence another highlight of this season. A season that is about to shift in expectations depending on what happens between now and early 2016.
There's a healthy contingent of Lilywhite that are forming a new culture at White Hart Lane, one that binds together a tough fabric that so often was paper thin in the past. Multi-layered yet all fit for purpose. This new template replacing the dizzy dithering and broken promises of previous suits that never measured up.
Spurs have gone from being the hippies at the parade to baton charging riot police. It's about time we left the whimsical behind and embraced the occasional dirty tactics. It's far from ugly though, it's got spine and spirit to match up to the skills. What will benefit us might also aid the national side. On a personal note, it might even rekindle an old flame.
From bare bones to back bone.
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