THE BLOG

Tottenham Hotspur: Dare to Dream?

23/02/2016 17:20 GMT | Updated 23/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Fifty-five years, apparently, since Tottenham Hotspur last won the league. I wouldn't know. In fact the only glories that I've experienced are a few League Cups. I'm told I witnessed an FA Cup triumph too but being only four at the time I'm not sure if my fleeting memory of my father going crazy in front of the television is real or invented. But anyway, if the frenzy is to be believed then this is going to be the year that I'll finally know what that feeling is like for real.

A strange thing has been happening to this young-ish Spurs fan recently, perhaps I'm not alone, it's a sense of optimism.

Pessimism is my natural resting relationship with my team. Even when things are going well, whether that be over a prolonged period of a season or just in a particular match, I always sense there's an unexpected bump in the road just around the corner. Much like an England batting collapse.

But this season there's been a sense of genuine belief in me that we can consistently put in a good performance. Before the recent game against Manchester City a part of me really felt that we had a chance of winning. Even with our otherwise horrific record against 'top-four' teams. The other part of my brain recognised that this was odd behaviour and tried to mask it from those around me by uttering comments like 'Lamela will come on in a moment and he's still useless'.

You only have to look at this season's form to see why. Only three losses in 26 games, unthinkable from a team as consistent as Louis van Gaal's press conferences. So what has changed?

The most obvious difference this season to almost all of those which have preceded 2015/16 is a dependable defence. That's the area from where reliability flows. In the past when Tottenham have been winning games, take the successful parts of Harry Redknapp's reign, it's been because we were out-scoring the opposition. Which is fine, until your striker has a dry run and then the flood gates really open. But this season the back four, with the signing of Toby Alderwireld proving to have been inspired, has been solid. Even the men more often than not warming the subs bench in Trippier, Davies and even more recently Kevin Wimmer have slotted in seamlessly when called upon. Gone are the days of the Assou-Ekotto or Younes Kaboul blunders.

Both in front and behind that defence there are also reliable screens in the experienced Lloris and composed Eric Dier. With those ingredients combined it's proven to be a difficult meal to digest for even the most predatory of the league's attacks.

That's not to say that the Spurs attack is lacking. In Harry Kane we've unearthed a genuine goal-scoring talent. Having said that, Kane is also the source of most of my heart palpitations. One injury to him and the whole house of cards collapses in on itself with no other recognised (and fit) striker in the squad. Not letting in goals goes a long way to a decent league position, but without scoring them you can't win it.

The four men behind Kane still look like they're finding their feet together to a certain degree, but the rejuvenated Mousa Dembele gives a resolute launch pad for creative types like Eriksen, Son and Lamela to flourish. And then of course there's Alli who fits beautifully into the mould of idealised Spurs midfielders: graceful and poised, yet still explosive.

With all of this conducted by Mauricio Pochettino's rising star it's easy to dream of the title, to get swept away with the all the plaudits and wild predictions about how far this team can go - 'And they're only young' is often uttered at the end of such discussions. But the little bit of pessimism that still lurks in the back of my mind is only concerned about finishing in the top four. Champions League football has to be the priority, particularly with the club having to pay off a new stadium. I've been hurt before even when we have reached the promised land of fourth position, Chelsea clawing our rightful berth from our grasp us just because they won the European competition. Sure I'd take the League title if we can manage it, but please Lord, don't make us play in that wretched Europa League again!