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Believing in Tottenham is never wrong: a not-retraction

Tottenham are still Spursy; I am still an optimistic fool

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Carabao Cup: Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Dear readers, supporters, #AveryOut-ers;

I’m sorry. Not for my brilliant, prescient, well-considered article which was proven spectacularly wrong within a day, nor for the high blood pressure that it apparently caused many of you. I’m sorry because I singlehandedly ended Tottenham’s title hopes with a grave temptation of fate. Had I not proclaimed in that article that Spurs had transcended being Spursy, we wouldn’t have lost to Wolves two weeks ago and we would currently be challenging for first place. I understand the great responsibility that comes with writing about sports and know that my duties are even greater because the fans for whom I write are among the most clever and skeptical in the land. I know, too, that the fabric of the universe is forever aligned against Tottenham Hotspur and lies in wait for the perfect moment to dash our hopes against the rocks. Two weeks ago, I happily provided the hope for dashing.

I should have known better than to have a little fun. Honestly, I should have, and I want to get back to making accurate assessments. So here goes: Of course we haven’t conquered Spursiness; of course we probably won’t win the Premier League. In fact, Spurs supporters have plenty to be happy about without making bold declarations on the basis of a match or two. If you judge Tottenham relative to our budget, players, and transfer history, we are already excelling. The clear outlier among the top four, we have been punching above our weight for long enough that we are now treated as equals. Spurs continuing on our current course would be a success. There is nothing wrong with a rational assessment of the team’s current prospects, and in fact a long look at the club’s fortunes leaves one feeling more or less pleased.

But aspiring to outlandish heights is part of the joy that supporters are afforded by the quality of the current Tottenham team, and furthermore, unbridled dreaming has always been a part of the club’s identity. Contained in the ubiquitous Danny Blanchflower/Bill Nicholson quote about Spurs and glory is the idea that Spurs are a club that is always looking higher. To paraphrase: as a club, our sights are set so high that even our failures will echo of glory. These past few weeks have shown exactly how that can be true for Tottenham. The Wolves defeat was a failure, to be sure, and certainly an example of the Spursiness that I so wrongly claimed was behind us. But taken in the context of the games before and after it, even that failure is evidence that the team has come a long way. We did not totter or throw in the towel after that game. The team simply got on with it, and we enter the weekend just six points off the lead.

All sports fans strike a balance between realism and optimism. Some prefer to assume a keeper won’t save a penalty; others believe he will miraculously save it. Some walk out of the stadium in the 89th minute, others hold out for the last-minute equalizer. I’m not here to tell you that one or the other is better, but I do think that optimism has a crucial role in Tottenham’s present circumstance. Not only is it supported by the results the team is getting, it also carries the team toward new heights. The Tottenham project is held together by an ideological core that centers on Pochettino and includes the players and Daniel Levy, and that core is one of optimism. Surely Eriksen (knock on wood) and Dele, to name just two examples, might have left a season or two ago if they didn’t have some hope in the possibility of what Spurs could attain. Five seasons ago, when Pochettino arrived, that sense of optimism was among the assets he brought. While he keeps his comments to the media rather reserved, Spurs players’ joyous attitudes are evidence of the confidence he gives them.

The fans can give the team the same, and while that means different things for different people, reveling in a notion the Poch has catalyzed a renaissance at Tottenham is one way to push the team onward. As long as we continue to play as well as we are, I will happily proclaim that we have conquered Spursiness one day and be disappointed the next, because supporting Tottenham isn’t only about being factually correct; it’s also about believing passionately in the team’s prospects. There are many excellent writers who assess Tottenham’s situation with calm, actuarial precision, and on most days, I, too, am inclined toward the analytical approach. But sometimes, it’s okay to grin, be wrong, and blindly trust the glory that is just around the corner.

Because it is.

Everton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images