Light-hearted Tottenham and a season without context 3

As Che Adams’ snapshot deflected off Eric Dier and spun into Michel Vorm’s net, everything was normal.  Tottenham are the club of unlikely failure and this was them finding new and ever more inventive ways of tripping over their own feet.

Sheffield United poured forward, the Bramall Lane crowd finally a factor after nearly eighty subdued minutes, and there wasn’t a Spurs fan alive who couldn’t taste the impending humiliation.

But then the counter-punch: Harry Kane threaded Christian Eriksen into a pocket of space behind the home defence, and the Dane steered the ball across Mark Howard and into the far corner of the net.

Que sera sera…

There’s something very likeable about this Spurs team and, despite the various disappointments, they’ve made this season thoroughly enjoyable.

At the beginning of the year, the squad was evidently in a clear state of flux and that naturally tempered expectation.  Beyond the unrealistic factions, most supporters entered 2014/15 hoping for little more than some semblance of progress.  Annual talk of the top-four had been put on hold and the singular focus on Champions League qualification had been downgraded and broadened.

That’s had a calming effect.  The usual swirls of alarmist nonsense have been evident at times and the same complaints about the White Hart Lane crowd still persist, but this season has had a laissez faire quality which has made it…fun.

Football should be enjoyable.  Being a supporter isn’t about concerning yourself with what might happen next week or worrying over whether your rivals will take advantage of their game in-hand, it’s meant to be much more immediate than that.  Celebrate when you win and hope the good times outweigh the bad.

Ironically, the key ingredient to this Tottenham is imperfection.  The squad may have pockets of concentrated talent, but it’s also deeply and obviously flawed.  The majority of the support seem to recognise that and seem to accept that as a result this season is, for all intents and purposes, a free shot at nothing.  It’s a year for Mauricio Pochettino to find his bearings, for some players to make a name for themselves, for victories to be enjoyed and for defeats to be learnt from.

When a manager doesn’t quite have the components to properly install his tactical philosophy, which Pochettino currently doesn’t, he ultimately has to rely on different qualities to win games.  Spurs are developing into something more cohesive, certainly, but this year they have been built primarily from more rugged attributes.  They are tactically soft, but physically and mentally very durable and they possess all the qualities which naturally endear a team to its supporters.

They grind, they persevere, they don’t settle for one point when they can pursue two more, and they’ve stolen so many games in the shadows of full-time that it’s almost becoming routine.  They’ve lost games, of course, but as a clear direction has emerged those moments have become more tolerable.

Within the context of a proper season, one which wasn’t book-ended by managerial and player turnover, that wouldn’t be enough.  In any ordinary campaign, the resonance of last-minute winners and team-spirit would be drowned out by the drone of ‘the bigger picture’.  Beating Villa, Swansea, Sunderland or Hull City would count for little beyond the accumulation of points and maybe progression through the various cups would be asterisked by fears of fatigue, but this year somehow it’s different - this year, it all seems simpler and less complicated.

Whatever will be, will be…

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