As we end the year on the brink of the top 4, Nathan from Talking Tottenham Tactics thinks we should be looking a little higher.
There have been a handful of good articles over the last couple of days about taking some perspective regarding Spurs this season. The main crux of these pieces is that our points tally so far this season is pretty strong. Stronger than it was this time last season and we’ve also just had our best calendar year. Hooray!
The idea is that we’re a little unlucky with this season’s increased competition at the top of the table. Yes, in a typical season our current points tally would normally put us top four but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to look a little higher.
Between 19th December and 2nd May last season we picked up 44 points in 19 games giving us a rate of 2.31 per game. 88 over a season. That’s, more often than not, a title win. This season we’re averaging exactly two points per game, so 76 come the end. Now, okay, I’ve very consciously cherry-picked our best half-a-season run. With injuries, a full spread of competition and natural dips in form that’s not really sustainable. But I don’t think it’s unfair to conclude that we have the squad, manager and system to at least challenge the top.
In a typical season our current points tally would normally put us top four but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to look a little higher
We’ve also lost speed, style, strength and swagger that we carried in that impressive period. So we’re off form. I’m not going to once again go in-depth on why I think our issues this season stem from central-midfield and at the feet of the half-fit Mousa Dembele. But I do think it’s okay to acknowledge that we’re off form, to want for more, to talk about why that might be achievable and even question the methods in which Pochettino is attempting that without being an entitled brat. Because there’s a huge positive here I’m enjoying: we’re off-form, but we’re 5th.
Off-form Spurs, for as long as I’ve been a Spurs fan, is normally a diabolical misery. To be ‘bad Spurs’ and only one point behind Arsenal in 4th is special. To put an asterisk next to goal-heavy victories against Swansea and Southampton because maybe we weren’t ‘5-0 good’ or ‘4-1 good’ and maybe we were struggling until we got a refereeing decision our way. That’s not something I’m used to as a Spurs fan.
The takeaway here is that as much as Pochettino has improved how good we are at our best, he’s also hugely improved how good we are at our worst. There’s none of the doom and gloom that has haunted White Hart Lane for years. No threat of managerial change. No boardroom unrest. No locker room drama leaked to the tabloids. There’s a decrease in scapegoated players and the abuse aimed at them. A lot less of the perpetual moaning and groaning from the stands that haunts my sleep. The worst it seems to get is a slightly irritated indifference.