Well I'm not one to gloat and say ' I told you so' but I did tell you so and I am gloating. My missis asked me if I didn't have anything better to do than walk around with a big grin on my face after the Villa game and weren't there any more important things I could be thinking about .
I gave her my famous curled lip supercilious look and asked as I left the room, 'Like what?'
I returned twenty minutes later and she was on item seventy three of what was obviously a very long list. I didn't stop to listen and went to phone my brother to go over the details of the game.
I detected things changing in the Hull victory and the performance against Man.U. Not exclusively in the performance but in the attitude of the players and the vital element of luck and in the run of the ball. Hull was the first time we have won away in the league since W.Ham in December and this time the late goal was scored and not conceded by us.
Similarly at Sunderland, a late equaliser this time. A vital contribution here by Keane who has been an important factor in our revival. He had a hand in all four goals at Middlesbrough. I have to come clean here and admit that I opposed his return for reasons unconnected to his ability and the fact that the prodigal son was made team captain. His return has been a success so far although there could be problems down the line with the return of Defoe. His attitude and effort, and his skill have made a real impact on the team.
The performance at the Carling Cup Final has been the basis of our improvement since. We thumped Middlesbrough who were a little unlucky on the day on the back of this, and the fact that we were at home in this fixture was of vital importance.
Against Villa the run of the ball was vital. Two goals early in each half, not exactly gifted but certainly at a discount, courtesy of two uncharacteristic parries into danger areas by Friedel quickly picked up by Jenas and Keane who turned half chances into goals.These could have fallen to the defenders and a similar error by Gomes was safely cleared.
Such are the fine lines between success and failure. We gave the ball away too often in the first half and put ourselves under pressure but the defence rallied very well, especially when Corluka replaced Zokora and cancelled out the threat of Young. This was decisive management by Harry and he handled the team well on the day. We conceded a late goal but played out the final ten minutes with assurance.
Even though we were put under pressure Friedel was the busier keeper and in the second half we slowed the pace and kept the ball better. Apart from Zokora this was a good all round team performance. Bent scored his 15th of the season and gave everything, running the channels with determination. He is a limited player but an effective one.
The presence of Ledley has a calming effect on the defence and Woodgate was a powerful presence even under the physical challenge of Heskey. Lennon was again our not so secret weapon and Jenas, it is generally acknowledged, had a more than good game. I am not totally convinced by Palacios but the time tojudge him will be next season when he has had time to settle in. His performance against Arsenal gave a glimpse of what he might be but his passing since has been average at best. It was his shot that led to the Bent goal and I expect him to score soon.
The signs of improvement are everywhere: from Lennon's shooting to Ekotto's defensive play Gomes too is showing an ability to catch crosses as well as stop shots. Corluka revealed that pace isn't everything, his positional play against the dangerous Young was excellent. The link up between Keane, Corluka , Jenas and Lennon especially those little balls inside the fullback were indications of some intensive training ground routines.
So how far can we go? I have been the harbinger of doom so far this season but after our recent run I am turning into the Angel of the North ( London branch) Last week I was playing down our hopes of a top half finish and this is the first week since the start of the season that I have shaken off the fear of relegation. As you can detect it doesn't take much to set my pulse racing again and as always the next match is crucial. A draw or a win against Chelsea and to be honest the sky's the limit. Well low level cumulus clouds anyway.
We are are unbeaten in six , 11pts from 15 in the league .For the first time we are closer to the Europa Cup places than the relegation zone. We are defending with resolution and playing more as a team than a collection of talented individuals, particularly down the right.
Things are looking up on all fronts and with nine games to go overhauling W.Ham to make 7th is a possibility. We require the ball to keep running for us and other teams to founder or give us a hand. We have tough games away to Man.U, Liverpool and Everton and this week at home to Chelsea. But we have beaten or drawn against all of the top five and have played our best against the better teams. The other five games are all winnable.
Do I think that it will happen? None of the teams below us are showing signs of making a good run in. The teams above us, outside the top four are faltering or just ticking over .Can we sustain our present run? On form we are well placed, fourth over the last eight games and fifth over the last six. I wouldn't put alot of money against it but then I have learn't over many years not to put too much money on Spurs. But given two points from eight games and all that, this would be some turnaround made possible by the tightness of the league this year: from 7th to 18th covered by just eleven points
I explained all this to the missis but she was on item 185 on her list of more worthwhile things that I and other Spurs fans could be doing. At least we can follow the relegation battle with detached amusement again.