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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Enjoy Tottenham for what they are rather than what they could be

As the final whistle blew on Monday night to confirm that Spurs would be returning to the top of the Premier League following a routine 2-0 win against Fulham, you barely had a moment to draw breath before the senses were attacked by a medley of Robbie Williams, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton played over the public address system and enthusiastically taken up by those in the stands.

Ange Postecoglou has said the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is more like a nightclub than a fortress. Perhaps that is why it is currently such a stimulating place to watch football; the intoxicating combination of living in this moment of delirium whilst also daring to dream of what could be.

Maybe it is therefore easier to produce a cold, clinical and calculated analysis of where Tottenham are really at when they are on their travels. With the air starting to chill as Winter approaches and Crystal Palace offering the sort of stubbornness you would expect under the Selhurst Park floodlights, Spurs did not look anything special for much of their eighth victory from ten Premier League games on Friday night.

Yet in the end, Postecoglou and his new side still managed to wrestle with the thoughts, feelings and emotions of supporters and produce another evening that makes his team worth following.

Much of the past few weeks have been spent trying to discern the secrets of what has made the Australian such an instant success. He has made the best-ever start as a new Premier League manager yet had never previously managed in one of Europe’s major leagues at the age of 57. Many have come to the conclusion that the secret is that there are no secrets: he has made Spurs less ‘Spursy’ simply by being authentic and conveying his footballing ideas in a straightforward manner.

The football they play is entertaining, but Roy Hodgson identified that It “isn’t so different” to that of Arsenal and Manchester City. Of course, this is a compliment rather than any sort of slight, yet Palace still managed to contain Spurs in the first half of Friday night’s contest by following a blueprint that has been seen before, not allowing a single shot on target and even finding ways to exploit the space exposed by Tottenham’s newfound commitment to attack.

Postecoglou had been critical of his side’s forward play in Monday’s victory against Fulham, and they were not much better here. Their one move of genuine quality ended with substitute Brennan Johnson setting up Son Heung-min to score his eighth goal of the season, and the space for it only came about when Palace were forced to be more adventurous following Joel Ward’s own goal.

Every outfield player had still ventured over to the away end to celebrate the fortunate opener, and at the final whistle there was no sense of anyone taking the hard-earned nature of the victory for granted. The travelling supporters were even granted the shot of adrenaline that only having to survive the best part of ten minutes of injury time holding a one goal lead after conceding the goal of Jordan Ayew’s career can deliver.

It is quite plausible that underlying performance numbers that suggest Spurs are closer to European contenders than league title challengers will begin to temper results. Maybe the continued presence of established internationals who cannot break into the team will eventually sour the current feelgood atmosphere that Angeball seems to have been built upon. Football is volatile and unpredictable, as Postecoglou has already attested to himself.

So perhaps rather than trying to mythologise and create false management prophets, it is best to enjoy what this is and how it makes you feel. Enjoy Rodrigo Bentancur making his first appearance in more than eight months and being lauded by team-mates and supporters alike in the post-match celebrations. Enjoy Postecoglou being amongst those celebrations, standing at the back allowing others to take the acclaim. Enjoy being five points clear at the top of the Premier League without worrying what might come about in May.


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