You know that sickening feeling you've got, somersaulting in the depths of your gut when peering at the league table? That all too familiar fear it might go tits up? That regardless of form, football will somehow find a way to disrupt and ruin it all again. I'd rather embrace this gut wrenching churn than not experience any of it.
This is what we've always wanted. The drive and hunger and the unparalleled ease we dismantle any given opposition. We got an unexpected taste last season. This year has proven we're not a one season wonder, a result of circumstance and flux. We are here to fight, the culmination of long term tangible efforts to improve a fragile ethos, only finally succeeding with probable longevity under Mauricio Pochettino. A man that understands this club and has immersed himself in it, unequivocally and without a hint of narcissism or ego.
We are still learning and growing but we are capable. We're a team with supporters that identify with those wearing the Lilywhite. From the training pitch to the turf at the Lane. From manager to player, the culture has been reinvented even if we all retain a self-deprecating sense of perspective. Feet on ground but ready to fly. Primed to take off rather than jump off a building. Delusions of old left in the past.
If we're not ready for the next level, we'll go again. No apologetic wallowing or introspective deterioration. A backbone that straightens and refuses to slouch. Time is against us but we're making it work in our favour. For now at least.
Even if the mathematics tease and taunt in the present, we continue to build on the philosophy, looking beyond single games but respecting the empowerment of the momentum we birth. We are forging what it means to have a winning mentality, to fear nothing. To want to win, to never give up the chance of doing so. Tenacity, resilience and a massive pair of grapefruits that don't often get squeezed. Perhaps, with a polite caveat that our European excursions still require a fix for pacing issues.
Everything happens for a reason. You either grudgingly accept defeat and failure and allow it to define you or digest every emotion it punishes you with, chewing it up and spitting it out. Spirit and belief, the meta-tactics that fuel shape and tempo, conducting the fluidity of our swarming, bullish transitional play. Confident. Disciplined. Robust from back to front. That edge, that desire. That want and almost arrogant determination pushing us beyond the levels we have too often become accustomed to and accepted.
It isn't easy, attaining all of this. Especially when we have very little to draw from when reflecting the past twenty years. It's a rare commodity compared to those that have the foundations of experience to pull from yesteryear eras. Expectancy helps to bind it all together but only if there is belief. Insecurity can destroy. Everyone has to buy in otherwise the fragmentation leaves the core corrupt and those that seek self-affirming redemption are often left broken and petulant.
We have a hold on expectancy, granted some will struggle with the stress it brings. From defence to attack, this is a side with individualism that encompasses all. Synergy is more than a soundbite. If you look back on this season and the last, taking isolated snapshots you can see when we've dipped and spiked. You can point to strengths and weakness. But there is mighty progression in there that is undeniable. Mighty in terms of contemplation too. We know we're close. We know we can do better. Yet you can't help but smile and stand proud. This is our team and they are brilliant. No fantasy, just white hot reality.
We've yet to lead from the front. We've yet to feel the pressure of being in control and protecting it. That isn't an option this season (never day never). We've had to chase and hope again. The learning curve isn't done with us yet. We continue to get mentally and physically stronger, against all the odds stacked against us. Those with astronomical bank balances look on with green eyed envy knowing that their money can easily disrupt. We are organic. A blend of our traditions, avoiding sacrifice of flair but embodying traits we lost in time whilst adopting some essential ones we can now not live without. We are young yet mature, occasionally raw yet cultivating experience from one day to the next.
We are a two year fledgling machine on the cusp yet to achieve silver rewards for our endeavours and still, we've managed to trigger concern in all those around us that seek to devalue our efforts with bitter criticism. We are unquestionably doing something right when other fans claim not to care but can't stop talking about us. It's wondrous and beautiful. The imperfections a reminder that the only benchmark we need to work to is the one we set ourselves.
I'm staring at the fixture list that awaits. Each team we are set to face has a narrative that includes us as their centre-piece. The intensity of the last campaign isn't telling this time round. We are far more relaxed and far less naive. The FA Cup semi-final is a one off occasion and yet it feels like the catalyst for what follows in the league. There are London derbies ahead, one of which the very last against the enemy at White Hart Lane. That sickening feeling in my gut right now, it's all the evidence I need to know we are deep in this and I'm loving every single second.