Ok. So far so good. There is no question that this season has seen a very young Spurs squad take some significant strides forward as they gel and take on board what Pochettino is asking of them and in the process they seem to have lifted the fans and carried us with them so that the whole club appears to be moving forward in some unity for a change. It is of course a long season and we can only hope that the level and rate of progress continues apace.

It wasn’t that long ago however when many were questioning the absence of a mature leader in the team. Yet thinking back over the last few seasons I can only really think of Scott Parker who for a short period took on that role distinctively. Of course Ledley led more by example. Dawson was an up and at ’em kind of guy that won the hearts of many fans but we never really had many players with a mean streak, someone that would gnash their teeth, tell the opposing player to do one and show that fighting spirit that not only embodies team character but also has the ability to galvanise the fan base who in turn lift the team.

Last season we thought we had found that in Bentaleb and Mason. The latter’s feistiness at Villa Park being apparent in the turnaround game that saw us start to transition our season in a fixture where Harry Kane commenced his journey as “one of our own”. Bentaleb himself was growing so much in his central midfield role not only for club but also for country, that I was one of a number of fans that felt he would soon be captain material even at his young age. And yet here we are twelve months on and the central midfield pairing has changed all together to an even younger duo (if that were possible) but not only this, both Dier and Alli are not afraid to ball out a colleague that isn’t doing what he needs to be, or indeed to come to the defence of said colleague when an opponent suddenly grows a pair and starts to get difficult.

I wasn’t a fan of Sherwood when he was in charge but the one (and probably only thing) I did agree with was at the time of spitting his dummy out in defeat when he said “I can’t keep digging them out. They have to do it to each other”. And in that he was right because for a long time even before Sherwood I would wonder as to why players weren’t screaming at each other when we’d screw up at any moment in a game or when we conceded a goal. The passive acceptance of mediocrity was stifling. In the current set up it would appear that the tolerance level for this has been lowered significantly, and rightly so, especially when you consider the work rate of the side; and for any fan to see this in his team is a good thing.

It didn’t feel like we had these characters in the side previously. Kaboul used to boss opponents (usually because of his size) until his talent and attitude drastically deteriorated but even he was never “that guy”. Similarly, we were never going to get these types of reactions from players that were only ever “passing through” our great club and whose hearts and minds clearly lay elsewhere or in their bank accounts. Any players merely using the club as a stepping stone are not welcome hereany longer it seems, although there is always a concern that talent, and especially young talent, will trigger the radars of other teams.

I wrote a piece last season where I said that I didn’t care if we didn’t sign big name players anymore as long as we found the right pieces that Pochettino was looking for to fit his team ethos. (Was Chelsea Victory a Watershed Moment). And we are certainly in the road to achieving this given the clear out of unwanted players in the summer. The fear is and was that the squad is thin, particularly in cover for Kane, and which may yet be tested as the season wears on. However after a summer of bemoaning the lack of a central defensive midfielder we now have a group of players that can slot into the central positions quite readily injuries permitting. Even Dembele seems transformed and is currently having a very positive effect on the team play in the central area. Or are we just finally seeing a fully fit player at last. Similarly Walker. No coincidence that his form is upturned and sometimes we as fans are not party to all the facts that affect form such as fitness, psychology and personal issues. But that’s a post for another day. Currently you can perm any one from five (Dier, Alli, Bentaleb, Mason and Dembele) for those midfield positions and I don’t think that we will be significantly weakened. That is a great position to be in. Dier in particular has been a revalation and I am pleased that the early season criticism of Pochettino for playing Dier in this role has dissipated. Sometimes we just have to trust the coach.

We may yet need an “experienced head” to guide this team through games such as the last 20 minutes versus the goons the other day, but let’s not forget how many late comebacks we manufactured in games last season. The character seems to be there and when we consider that this group of players are still learning then the potential ceiling of this side is almost anathema to Spurs fans as we really can’t fathom this as it’s not in our DNA to comprehend.

I started this post with the intention to laud the leadership and fighting qualities of particular players in the team and as the writing has progressed I have realised that it is difficult to single people out. We are for the first time witnessing a Spurs side that is all about the “team” sans ego’s and sans star quality and perhaps finally we are witnessing a group of individuals whose total is greater than the sum of its parts. Lamela for example, has had his critics, but his function in the side epitomises precisely what Pochettino wants and the question has quite rightly been raised as to whether he would be as effective in another team? It’s a valid question even if some fans are still blinded by the price tag and the fact that he isn’t scoring every week!

The signs are indeed positive and whilst all we Spurs fans seem to struggle with positivity and “good things” happening to our club due to the ever changing expectation and resultant feeling of failure when those expectations aren’t met or something in the cosmos works against us. We aren’t there yet of course (standard note of Spurs fan caution here) but it seems that we are a happier bunch these days and I urge you all to embrace it. There’s no “I” in “team”, but there is in Dier, Alli and of course Pochettino. COYS.

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