Sometimes a night comes along that reminds you why it’s all worth it. All the time, money and travel, all the worry and stress. Then it comes along – that perfect explosive burst of joy that fills you with an invincibility that nothing else can match. Oh it’s good. It’s so, so good.
I was going to write this a few hours after the full-time whistle at Swansea, but there was no chance of forming anything coherent at all after all that. The morning after and the buzz is still there. If you are looking for a refined analysis of Wednesday night’s madness, you’re in the wrong place. If you want to bask in the warm glory of it all through an emotional ramble, dive in.
When we talk about this group of players, it becomes easy to start to gush over their fight and desire and the fact that they ‘get it’. Reaffirming the connection between those on the pitch and those in the stands has been arguably Mauricio Pochettino’s greatest achievement. The lingering cynicism of the modern fan though may just let some doubt creep in – maybe we’ve gotten too carried away, maybe they don’t feel like us, their just professionals doing their job. Last night was another hammer blow to that doubt. They care.
Another win from the jaws of defeat, the mark of the new Tottenham. And this is most certainly a whole different beast to the one Pochettino encountered as he walked into the club in the summer of 2014. The poisonous aspects of the dressing room have been long expunged and the new philosophy has been fully realised as we fight for the league title for a second consecutive season. This is now the club that refuse to be beaten until the whistle blows, that won’t even settle for a draw after a late equaliser. It’s now 17 points recovered from losing positions this season and 53 since Pochettino took charge. We’re not just the side that play nice football anymore, we’re the fighters in this league, the toilers, the scratchers. We’re winners.
For the third time this season we’ve headed into the final minute a goal behind and somehow come out the other side with the win. The first felt like a turning point. A Heung-min Son and Harry Kane inspired win over West Ham, ending a run of seven games without a win and preventing our London rivals from becoming the first side to beat us at White Hart Lane this season. Six months on and still our home remains an unbreakable fortress. Then an inspired Wycombe crumpled under the pressure as Son found the latest of winners to drag us through the FA Cup fourth round. Three months on and we’re heading to Wembley for the semi-final.
Last night, Son was again the man for the big occasion. One of the main criticisms of the South Korean is that he doesn’t do it when it matters against the biggest teams. This may be true in terms of the calibre of opposition, but the forward certainly takes on the weight of big-moment pressure pretty well. At Watford last season, he popped up with a late winner that sent the away end into delirium. Here he did the same and lit the fuse for even more raucous celebrations.
And like at Vicarage Road, those images of our players screaming in front of their disciples will once more be made immortal. The vein-popping, red-faced ecstasy that is normally reserved for the fans was etched across the expressions of Son, Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and all those in the frenzied bundle. Allow yourself to gush, because they do get it, they really do.
And then there was Pochettino. The leader of men, the ultimate protagonist to this and all other improbable feats that this group have accomplished under his reign. More uncontrollable elation, more flailing limbs. No pre-planned beating of the chest, no hanging off the dugout – just the natural release of pent-up anxiety and elation. And then afterwards, he goes further and fuels our fire with a touch of Graham Roberts.
“The most important thing is the badge. When you play for Tottenham it is not about the names. It is about the team.”
Oh stop it. This is too much.
On Instagram and Twitter, the players added to the hot mess of self-love within the club. Walker did it best. “These are the moments you want to bottle up and experience again and again”. Yes, yes, yes. Somehow, they are embracing this all as much as we are.
Then you start to think about the smaller details. The impact of Vincent Janssen, who changed the game – maybe he’s finally finding his feet. The injuries that we have had to deal with. Spurs fought back without four regular starters, as well as some that may have been looked to help from the bench. All that and still refusing to give in, still just barely hanging on in the race.
Despite everything, we’re still alive. Once again, we seem to be the only challengers to the leaders. Chelsea’s win over Manchester City was their most important of the season. It keeps the gap to a healthy seven points, rather than a much more fragile four. Yet there is still hope. This team keep defying expectation. This stubborn Tottenham Hotspur just won’t let you rest, they keep reeling you in. Whether you’re the team in front trying to keep them at arm’s length, or the fans trying not to get too carried away. And it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve been properly watching Spurs for twelve years, since I was about seven. Martin Jol made me dream of European football, Harry Redknapp gave me a Champions League journey and the most entertaining football in the land. But what Mauricio Pochettino and his players are doing now outstrips both by far. I’m sure even those with much longer memories than me can attest that this is the best they’ve felt about the club too.
Still we plough on, with belief that our own impossible dream may yet be realised. It’s unlikely, but when you witness the fight of those wearing the shirt and you marvel at their enigmatic talents, it becomes so difficult to not be whipped up in the wonder of it all.
Why fight it? Yes, it could all end with heartbreak again. But the journey that we’ve been taken on, the fruitless ride of last season and the thrill of this one is unmatched by anything else. This feels like I’m repeating what I said a year ago and we know how badly that ended. That’s the drug that we’re being fed now. We’re dreaming again, but it feels so fucking good to dream.
It’s the hope that kills you. But it’s what makes you feel alive.
Enjoyed this article? Hit the heart below!