Tottenham Hotspur has had its share of injury setbacks this season. Two injuries to Harry Kane have hurt, but Spurs have also been without Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks, Danny Rose, and Hugo Lloris for chunks of the season.
Despite all that, Spurs are having their best ever season in the Premier League, mostly because the players behind the injured guys have consistently been able to slot in and put in a good shift, so the drop off from first 11 to reserve players hasn’t been too steep.
In the wake of Spurs’ 4-0 demolition of Watford at White Hart Lane on Saturday, Mauricio Pochettino praised his side’s performance and how the entire squad has stepped up when needed.
"It means a lot - the team and the squad. All the players feel important during the season. It's not about who plays - it's about playing for Tottenham.
"The badge is the most important thing and we must always show that we are a team.
"Football is going in a completely [different] direction to 10 or 15 years ago and today it is a collective matter more than before.
"If you don't show a strong mentality with 24, 25 players and you are not capable of making all [the players] feel important in the project it is so difficult win titles."
Well. That’s about as close to kissing the badge as you’ll get.
I grew up watching Indiana University basketball under hall of fame coach Bob Knight. For as long as I can remember, Indiana teams never had names on the backs of their jerseys, because Knight insisted that it wasn’t about the name on the back of the jersey, it was about the name on the front. It was purely symbolism, of course, but one that the players seemed to embrace. Four head coaches later, those names still haven’t reappeared on the Indiana jerseys.
Bob Knight and Pochettino couldn’t be more different in terms of personality — Knight was a player-abusing, irascible bully, and Pochettino an arm-around-the-shoulder, supportive father figure — but they share the same mentality when it comes to teamwork. This isn’t a squad of individuals, it’s a team that must play together and trust in every member of the squad in order to achieve its goals.
Hackneyed? Perhaps slightly. But based on Tottenham’s results the past two seasons, it also seems to be extremely effective. Spurs may not have the best squad on paper – it’s hard to overlook high-priced squads like the ones at Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United – but morale at White Hart Lane is high, and Spurs are definitely playing like they’re the best team in England at the moment.