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New Year New Cheer For Spurs

Wednesday 21st December 2011
Expect the worst, hope for the best. As a Spurs fan that's basically been my mantra since I started going to White Hart Lane 25 years ago. We are the ultimate cynical fans but we have every right to be that way, false dawns and five-year-plans have followed previous false dawns and five-year–plans.

A shiny new manager promising to play the ‘Spurs way' is usually ushered out the back door within 18 months. But this time, for the first time in God-knows how long something feels different. Now I realise I'm writing this before the crucial match against Chelsea tomorrow, but even if we lose that game it won't change my outlook on this squad.

Time and again this season, radio, newspaper and TV reports have pre-faced their analysis with the words ‘in previous seasons Spurs would have lost this kind of a game', and they might very well be right. 1-0 down at half time away at West Brom, 2-1 up at Fulham but being battered from pillar to post for 45 minutes, 0-0 and no creative spark at home to Sunderland. Yet these games yielded nine points for us. Not to mention the brilliant yet ultimately futile (thank you Mr Foy) second-half display against Stoke.

I've almost had this feeling before. Almost, but not quite. When we did finish fourth two seasons ago, it was a stunning achievement even if Liverpool's shocking fall from grace helped us no end. In 2006 we were just waiting for something to go wrong, always waiting for the ‘old Spurs' to turn up. Then Lasagne-gate happened and most Spurs fans I know rolled their eyes and said ‘I told you so'.

What's different this time around is that we are no longer a soft touch. It is a cheap journo's line that has been thrown at us nearly every season since the Premier League began. Cheap line it may be but in all honesty, probably correct. Ten years ago as a volunteer football writer at university, I covered the Man United game where we went 3-0 up in the first-half. At half-time what should have been an atmosphere of celebration was instead filled with angst with long in the tooth fans saying "don't worry its Spurs, we always find a way to mess it up." And we did.

This season the league is stronger than it's ever been. The top six clubs are starting to cut the rest adrift and Man City aside, it's anyone's guess as to where the other five teams will finish. Following the disastrous first two league games this season not many would have put us in amongst those five, but a new backbone and never say die attitude has begun to rear its head. Led by the indomitable Scott Parker (how he has been overlooked for so many years is beyond me), calming steadiness of Brad Friedel and the freakishly superhuman feats of Ledley King and his one remaining knee.

This steely determination has filtered through to the midfield and attack. They don't seize up feeling they have to score every half-chance because at some point we will let in a few at the other end. It's bred an attacking style that has seen us produce the most shots of any team thus far and caused old red nose Ferguson himself to claim we've been the most attractive side all season. Whisper it quietly but something very special might just be beginning to take shape in N17.

The old cynicism hasn't totally gone, as I know a month after writing this Spurs could revert to old and even Liverpool could be above us. The difference this time around is nothing I've seen this season has led me to believe that is even remotely likely.

There's one more thing which highlights just how far we've come. The bitterness of our North London rivals. Rather than setting their sights on winning the title, the crowning glory of their season would be to finish above us. If the squad ever need a laugh or any extra motivation, they just have to look at Wojciech Szczesny's comments that are currently doing the rounds. The other player in Arsenal's 'two-man team' said, “We don't want to finish below Tottenham. I know they will start losing points soon." An Arsenal player praying for us to start dropping points just so they can scrape into the top four. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?
Simon Margolis

Total articles: 6

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