So this is what an echo of glory tastes like.
I'm gutted, you're gutted, we're all gutted.
Emotionally, it feels like the morning after being knocked out of every cup semi-final in history. It's a bit salty. The fox hunt has ended unceremoniously with no trophy beckoning back at the club house.
We did enough in the first half to win the game comfortably but only had a tenuous 1-0 lead at the break. WBA did enough in the second half to deserve an equaliser whilst we lost a bit of everything in amongst the tension. Shape, momentum, ideas. Not to completely dismiss the zip and ping of our first half tempo which at times was tremendous. It deserved so much more. The woodwork not in agreement on three occasions, a hattrick of fine margins.
The pressure and expectancy, in slow brooding fashion, eventually rattled our composure just enough to keep the game in the realm of the ominous. It's a big ask for anyone, let alone a fledgling side, to keep driving forward knowing that the team ahead of us have won yet again a day earlier. These Monday games a curse on our challenge. I'm not going to pretend that Swansea's performance at the King Power wasn't a little demoralising. The atmosphere inside the ground was reflective of it. Still, regardless of the narrative and the difficulty spike for our players, we've got on with it with little complaint, week in and week out.
Yes, we could have defended better for their goal. Hugo Lloris in no mans land, but hey, it happens. It's happened a few times in the past and we've lost. Sometimes we've gone on to win. Against WBA purgatory, our dear old friend, returned unexpectedly. Hopefully, nothing more than a cameo appearance.
It wasn't meant to be, right?
It's hard to take because three points would have prolonged the title push that extra week. I would have loved another week of lionhearted desire. It's been a wondrous time, not just for the club and its internal metamorphosis, dispelling the culture of comfort once and for all. The supporters have also forged a new, stronger mindset to give equilibrium to the football we've been blessed with. We're not just throwing around soundbites and superlatives to disguise weakness. We believe in the coach and the players. This feeling of despondency, as low as it makes you feel, it can pull us back up again. We no longer fear as a club. We absolutely despise losing. Even two points dropped angers the blood. That's powerful. We have the mentality of winners. We're just missing the matching silverware.
We needed a miracle on Monday night regardless of the result and now we need whatever it is miracles wish for when they miss their cue and fail to materialise. I'm not sure I'll have much luck finding it at the bottom of this here bottle of Kraken.
Heads can not drop. Everyone has been vocal about their want to see Leicester crowned title holders. It can sometimes appear to be a touch patronising. It's as if them winning it doesn't really count because 'no way will they offer the same threat next season'. Perhaps it's a backhanded compliment that the haters believe we pose more of a threat - one that would have been consolidated with finishing top.
I don't see Leicester dropping off (Champions League could produce an interesting distraction) although I doubt they'll have the same freedom of impact next time round. I'm also sure every side they've faced in recent weeks looking like they've rolled over for them is purely illusionary and circumstantial. To be brutally honest, regardless of the bias and siege mentality you build up as a fan (and want to believe in a 'conspiracy') they've churned out more results than us. I can't dispute that. The mathematics have me beaten. I can only shrug and accept.
It hurts but take time to appreciate it from a philosophical perspective. That early season learning curve has given us a beastly foundation to build on in the present. Selecting fixtures that we've lost or dropped points in and saying 'what if?' won't change a thing either. Playing that particular game will always be out of context with what's happening from one week to the next, in real-time, as the league table twitches and changes and reacts. Don't do it to yourself.
We still have work to do.
Three games left to win. Finishing 2nd, above the rest will have to do. We have to pick ourselves up like we're still involved for top spot. Beating Chelsea away would be satisfying, what with Eden Hazard reading off the PR auto-cue to drum up some long forgotten passion that the little club with big money have struggled to muster all season long. I love that we're disliked so much. Curious folk are rival fans. Mocking us for not winning the league. My, my....times have changed. From mid-table mediocrity to failing to win the title. I guess I can just about live with the scathing Tweets as we roll out of this game and into the next.
I'll leave it there for now. I still love you Tottenham Hotspur, you magnificent paragon of glorious beauty.