Undefeated since opening day really isn’t a bad record, and such a fine run has propelled Spurs to within only four points of a Champions League spot. And a win tonight over Aston Villa would see them close that gap on Manchester United to just a point.
Whilst all the headlines have been about Chelsea’s decline, the media explosion of excitement surrounding Liverpool’s appointment of the charming and totally hilarious Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City’s rollercoaster-like peaks and troughs with regards to form, and Arsenal’s new-found ability to beat the big guns, no one has been talking about Tottenham’s under-the-radar journey towards the top of the table.
Even Leicester City – for their superb, gravity-defying rise to the European spots and weekly pizza antics – and tonight’s opponents Aston Villa have garnered more media talk than Spurs.
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But that’s no bad thing at all. Really, why would you want to be thrown in with the hype and the derision anyway? They say the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, but in today’s footballing world, that doesn’t seem to hold true.
There are no dramas, there are no dressing room splits – as far as we can tell – and there are no tantrums. The fans are happy, the players are happy, and Harry Kane has remembered where the net is again.
All is well at the Lane. And that should really just show you how it’s done.
These days, the best way to run a football club is like a business. Whether you hate the way modern football has turned our passionate, beautiful game into one corporation trying to get one over on another corporation, that’s the way it is. It’s Emirates vs Etihad, Gazprom vs Chevrolet. But Spurs are doing it well.
If you look at Chelsea, for example, they’re one of the better run clubs too. In terms of their structure, how they’re managed and how they portray their image in the media, they’re second to none. But that whole polished image seems to be completely undone week after week in every single press conference. Jose Mourinho shatters the pristine veneer the club surrounds itself every time he talks to the media at the moment.
And the pressure created by the media breeds more pressure. Just look at Harry Kane’s start to the season. When he couldn’t score, the pressure built up, and suddenly he was no longer thought of as a quality young striker. Suddenly he was a flash in the pan, a Francis Jeffers. Now he’s started scoring again and we’ve left him alone. Sort of. Now he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, apparently.
And that’s all down to the calmness of Mauricio Pochettino. He’s created an atmosphere of sombre know-how. He’s a man who seems happier to get on with his coaching than having a go at referees or players or the media. He’s a manager who takes the spotlight off the club and allows them to go unnoticed.
Despite a slow start, Spurs are now sitting pretty and have felt their way into their season. They’re working on the assumption that the Premier League is a 38 game marathon – though so too, it seems, is the Europa League – and not half-season sprint.
So hats off to Pochettino and his team. They’re doing football right. No silly headlines, no bust-ups, no pressure. Just a team getting better every week through good coaching and hard work.
If they can keep that up over the fast and furious Christmas period, Spurs could be in for a special season. With Chelsea struggling terribly, with Manchester City and Manchester United hitting and then missing form, and – as usual – with Arsenal you just never know, we really shouldn’t rule Tottenham out of a title bid.
It’s far too early to say they can do it, but they’re gliding so beautifully under the radar that they may just pop up towards the end unnoticed.