Going into this season, Tottenham’s odds to win their first league title for 62 years were substantial in the Premier League betting. If we’re being brutally honest about it, presumably the only people backing them were Spurs fans doing so from a misguided sense of loyalty.
Why they were generally discounted – and why they are always generally discounted - brings up reasons that are also substantial, not to mention obvious and far-reaching.
As stated, the North London club has not topped the pile since 1961, only coming close a handful of times subsequently. Both historically and in recent times, this is a club that languished in mid-table in dark times and nestled itself among the elite when everything gelled.
But title contenders? Again if we’re being brutally honest, to claim they came close a handful of times is pushing it.
Moreover, post-Pochettino, this is a club that had stalled, becoming staid and predictable under Jose Mourinho, then staider and more predictable under Antonio Conte.
They were far too reliant on Harry Kane for goals, a player who pre-season seemed destined to leave for Bayern Munich, and beyond their highly-prolific finisher this was a squad that screamed top four at best.
On August 12th, Kane duly joined the Bundesliga giants, a player who scored or assisted 41.4% of Tottenham’s league goals across nine seasons.
Then there was Ange Postecoglou’s appointment to consider.
Lauded now as a masterstroke by Daniel Levy, the club’s divisive chairman, it was a posting that was accompanied by a large dose of doubt at the time.
Because for sure, the Australian would implement a much more attacking mandate, and for sure Tottenham fans could look forward to some long-overdue entertaining fare each and every matchday. This coupled with his engaging personality meant a certain level of popularity was assured.
Having not coached at the highest level previously however, to what extent would his adventurous football prove to be impactful? Consistently so, or in fits and spurts?
As pertinently, maybe more so, did he have the coaching chops to execute a Plan B when results and performance went awry?
We still don’t know the answer to that second query but that’s only because Postecoglou’s side have been complete, and multifarious, and damn near brilliant from the very get-go.
Eight games in – over a fifth of the whole campaign, it should be noted – Spurs are one of only two sides still unbeaten, the other being their neighbours and arch-rivals Arsenal. Separated only by goal difference, the two sides sit proudly atop the top-flight.
It is a dramatic and surprisingly swift rise that has already fulfilled the promise of a progressive, enlivening new style of football in their half of North London, as evidenced by Postecoglou becoming the only Premier League manager to see his team score 2+ goals in each of his first seven games in charge.
In shots too, Tottenham are not only leading the way, with a hugely impressive 153 going into the international break a league high, but also distancing themselves greatly from the cautious, shot-shy incarnation they were last season.
An average of 19.3 per game is their highest on record since 1998.
Meanwhile at the back, their eight goals conceded in eight is the most watertight they’ve been since Pochettino, which is ironic given how Mourinho and Conte supposedly sacrificed risk and creativity to be solid in defence.
Their new-found parsimony has been in part due to excellent displays from their summer signing Micky Van De Ven, a colossus in the making who has quickly formed a formidable partnership with Christian Romero.
Complimenting each other’s strengths extremely well, on such pairings title-winning defences have been formed.
Further forward, James Maddison has wasted no time in becoming the high-performing number 10 Spurs have been crying out for since Christian Eriksen.
With 22 shots, 15 chances created, and 26 in build-up no player in the Premier League is responsible for more open play sequences ending in an attempt on goal.
Furthermore, his linking up with a revitalised Son Heung-min bodes well for the challenges ahead.
It should not be under-estimated either how crucial Tottenham’s reimagined engine-room has been to their early success. Pape Matar Sarr and Yves Bissouma were superb prospects minimised by Postecoglou’s predecessors. Now they’re both flying.
When all of these positives are combined it leaves only those overly sceptical by nature doubtful of Tottenham’s title credentials this term.
They have momentum and are clearly enjoying themselves after being tethered in previous campaigns. Both of these factors should not be downplayed.
Additionally, there are no European distractions, a key consideration come the spring when the schedules of other teams become clogged up and debilitating.
Will Tottenham win the Premier League this season? Being brutally honest, probably not. But they deserve their shorter price in the betting and absolutely warrant being part of the conversation.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*