Okay, so let's get the final result against Newcastle out of the way first. Inexcusable, embarrassing, and in a tragic kind of way actually rather amusing given the plaudits that have been welcomed throughout the season. A draw, just a little draw, against one of the worst teams in the league was all that was needed to prove Spurs had been better than Arsenal.
Well, the first half performance from Tottenham was woeful. Sure, Dembele and Alli were not playing but if ever the phrase 'they're already on holiday' was applicable it was here. Then the second half: an early goal and the opposition reduced to 10 men. If it had finished 2-1 I would have been angry with the lack of 'oomph'. But then it got worse, and then it got so bad that it was ridiculous. All you could do was laugh. This was the old Tottenham that we had grown to love, resurfacing for the first time in this otherwise unnervingly consistent season.
So we'll forget that and look at the season as a whole. It was a strange one for Tottenham Hotspur, a campaign in which many odd things happened, things that were new to us Spurs fans.
First and foremost, of course, is the fact that for a decent chunk of the season we were actually title contenders. This, not particularly young but still somewhat forlorn supporter, had not been born the last time such an event occurred. Tied to that, naturally, is the surprising fact that Tottenham finished third in the league, yes it should have been second but had you told me we'd finish third at the start of the season I'd have laughed in your face. Unbelievable. Had it not been for the downright cheek of Leicester City and the final day implosion this feat would have been up there with Will Young beating Gareth Gates to the Pop Idol crown. But in the end our season was downgraded to merely 'eyebrow raising'.
I think that, for me, the most bizarre aspect of this campaign has been that gradually, as it progressed, I found myself starting to trust that we weren't constantly on the cusp of conceding a hatful of goals as has been Spurs' trademark for some time. One can only conclude that this has mostly come about by the signing of Toby Alderweireld who has been so impressive that the fans, whom apparently are only satisfied by free flowing, attacking football voted the centre-back as their player of the season. He's been to Tottenham's defence what Boy George is to hat wearing, irrepressible. The improvement in the team's defensive record has been remarkable, from leaking goals season after to season, to overnight becoming the joint most water tight in the league. It's a change so perverse that it's almost enough to make you think that there might be some form of corruption in this otherwise pure sport.
This trust at the back has led us to go into games, even against quality opponents believing that we might actually win; as we also have quality at the attacking end of the pitch too. This perhaps isn't quite so new to us, having most recently had Gareth Bale to pull a rabbit out of the hat every now and then, but Pochettino has gelled together a genuine attacking unit. Spearheaded by Harry Kane, who has scored goals as regularly as Donald Trump has insulted a minority group, this force has rarely failed to threaten. Perhaps the most peculiar element of this successful composite is that it includes Erik Lamela, a player who in his first couple of years in England looked as out of place as Steve Davis DJ-ing at a rave (if you haven't seen that video clip, I implore you to look it up). But, again credit to the manager who has found a role Lamela can fulfil and given him the time to grow into it.
That brings us nicely onto Mauricio Pochettino himself. Primarily, the man is an oddity because he's a Spurs manager who hasn't been sacked. It doesn't happen very often, in fact instead of getting himself fired he's just signed a contract extension that runs until 2021. Now this is suspicious. It makes you wonder if Daniel Levy has been body snatched and is really that blue version of Jennifer Lawrence from X-Men. Mind you, Levy did get £12 million off Mike Ashley for Andros Townsend in January, no one else could have done that. I mean, have you tried getting a refund in a Sports Direct?
Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Pochettino. The great man has to take a lot of the plaudits for this year. The pundits always bang on about the high-energy pressing game and double training sessions that he employs. Whether it is that or the youthfulness of the squad he has assembled, he has certainly instilled a hunger in them that is required to succeed in the dog eat dog world of survival that is the Premier League. His team is more Bear Grylls than Ray Mears.
We can only hope that Pochettino's upward trajectory with Tottenham continues. To replicate this season's success next year is going to incredibly difficult as the big clubs regroup. Investment in the squad is still required. A priority must be to bring in a genuine striker as cover for Kane who remains the only out-and-out front man in the squad. On the shopping list should also be a ball playing holding midfielder. Mousa Dembele is one of the unsung heroes this year, having finally found a role he is naturally able to excel in. His strength, composure and ability to hold onto the ball in difficult positions whilst still being able to pick a pass are qualities it's hard to come by and lack severely in Ryan Mason who is often used as Dembele's replacement.
So yes, still a work in progress and it was a sour note to end the season on, but let's not forget that whatever happens, we can be cheered by the fact that it could be worse: we could once again have found ourselves in the barren wasteland that is the ruddy Europa League.Suggest a correction