Tottenham Hotspur are legitimate title contenders.
Allow that to sink in. It’s January and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have a realistic chance of winning the Premier League title. And you thought the Mayans were full of shit about this whole 2012 thing.
When I became a Tottenham fan I expected several things – exciting, attacking football; a frustrating ability to give up any lead at any time; and Roman Pavlyuchenko’s dogged attempts to resuscitate Russia’s space program outside our opponents’ goal to name just a few. A title challenge was not something I thought would be in the cards.
Tottenham has only won the title twice in their history, first in 1951 and then again in 1961 (the same year we became the first British team to win the double in the 20th century, a fact no Spurs fan will ever get sick of telling you). We’re traditionally a cup side. We’re also traditionally a team that finds ways to screw it up when things count most.
In 2006, with only a win against bottom dwellers West Ham standing between Spurs not only qualifying for the Champions League, but also finishing ahead of Arsenal, the entire team came down with a case of food poisoning and lost. Until 2 years ago, Tottenham were the richest team in all of Europe to have never qualified for the Champions League. Last year, in the same week that Spurs beat AC Milan AT the San Siro, they also managed to lose to Blackpool, a team that would go on to be relegated. So yeah, THAT is the Spurs team I expect to watch any given Sunday, a team capable of being utterly brilliant one moment and the very definition of shambolic the next.
This season has been a little different. Things got off to a disturbing start with two beatings at the hands of the two Manchester club. For a moment it looked like Harry was going to want to leave for England, or even prison, a little sooner than we expected. Then we got Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from City to keep Roman Pavluchenko on the bench and signed legendary RAF ace Scott Parker to boss the midfield. At the same time, Chairman Daniel Levy left a horse’s head in Luka Modric’s bed to let him know exactly what he thought about letting go to Chelsea. Suddenly, Spurs started sweeping away all who stood before them.
Since they lost to Manchester City on August 28, Tottenham have only lost once, to 4-5-2 bette noir Stoke City, and they probably would have won that game too if it weren’t from some extremely dubious officiating. Right now, Tottenham have 46 points, which is only 5 off of first place and more than Manchester United, last year’s champions, had at this point last season.
Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe how weird this is as a Spurs fan. We’ve lost 3 times … ALL SEASON. The last time we lost a game all year that felt like we deserved to lose, it was warm enough to wear shorts. This year, we’ve left the comedy losses to the other side of North London. Hell, even our 5-1 beating at the hands of City was overshadowed by Arsenal’s epic 8-2 collapse to United.
A title challenge is still a bit of a stretch for Spurs. They’d have to overcome a Manchester United side with more than enough title winning experience AND a Manchester City side that literally has access to a bottomless supply of money. And let’s be realistic here, this is still Spurs. This is a team that is more than capable of doing something like pasting City 5-0 this weekend and then turning around and conceding a late winner to Wigan the following weekend.
But we have to go for it. Bill Nicholson, Tottenham’s iconic manager, once said “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.” This is the kind of attitude that made me fall in love with Spurs in the first place. We aim for glory, even when we’re pointing the gun at our foot. We play open, attractive football, even when a more pragmatic style could earn us more points. I don’t want to win the title grinding out boring 1-0 wins. I want my team to win the title and I want them to look good doing it.
With Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea falling all over themselves to throw away points, this is a golden opportunity to make a run at it. Hell, even with all those things working in our favor, a title is still a long shot. I should be happy with a safe Champions League spot, but if I had common sense, I wouldn’t be a Spurs fan.
Tottenham’s motto is “To dare is to do.” Let’s act like it.