Posted by: Paul | December 29, 2010

Tottenham’s stellar year

If you’d said to me at the beginning of the year that, come the turn of 2011, Spurs would be eagerly awaiting the visit of AC Milan in the knockout stage of the Champions League – and not only that, but also be hopeful of beating them – I’m not sure I’d have believed you. I’d be happy, but sceptical. And on top of that, we’d be fourth in the league and in touch with the title race (just) – well, that would be too much.

But here we are. After last Christmas, Spurs were in a decent but not stellar position, with aspirations of qualification. But thanks to an excellent run in the last third of the season, we crossed that line with a game to spare – and all the sweeter, we did it away at Man City, our rivals for fourth place.

We may not have won an actual trophy since 2008’s Carling Cup win, but the progress Tottenham have made in the interim is staggering. Our tight knit unit of players has become a true team who play for the manager, the shirt, and each other. One of Spurs’ past failings was not being able to hang on to our best players – but I think the sale of Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United has taught the borad a thing or two about keeping hold of our assets and not being intimidated by bigger clubs when we develop a player who catches the eye. Two cases in point this year have been Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.

Both Bale and Modric have been incredibly influential at key times. It’s often said of forwards that they are ’20 goal a season’ players, but for a winger like Bale to be odds on to achieve that figure himself is breathtaking. And Modric is just as crucial in a less spectacular way – always the creator, the provider, in the right place at the right time.

In Harry Redknapp, Spurs have clearly the best English manager currently in the game. It will be a big loss to Spurs when he inevitably pursues his dream of becoming the national coach, and it begs the question – who would replace him? Spurs will be in the position then where nothing less than a star name will do – and would finally be accessible to us.

And the results…oh the results. Beating Arsenal away. Not losing to Chelsea or Liverpool for years. Winning the Champions League group stage in a group with the holders, beating Inter Milan themselves and finishing as top scorers in the whole competition. Hindsight is a fine thing, but you could have made a mint betting on unlikely little Tottenham.

So long may it continue. With a deep squad we’re in good shape for the coming year, and with players on long contracts this group will be together for a time to come. We’ve had many false dawns but could this be the start of a golden age? Could we even – I hardly dare whisper it – win the Champions League?

That itself is the unlikeliest of all things, of course – but it will be a lot of fun finding out.

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