Wins over Manchester City just hit fans differently these days, and Sunday was no exception for Tottenham fans.
They had plenty before the match to motivate them. Pep Guardiola’s jib for the ‘Harry Kane team’ a few years ago. Speculation about the striker before the match. £ 100 million signing by Jack Grealish who showed the financial difference between teams like City and those who scrapped for the places below them.
Although cash can win you league titles and cup competitions in bucketloads, they will not win you every game, and that was what we saw when an undercooked city went undone on Spurs with the permission of Son Heung-min’s curler at a distance.
It was the perfect opening result for Nuno Espirito Santo, mainly because it was not a one-man show. It showed the strengths of each individual player in their starting XI.
Japhet Tanganga, linked to a loan move to Turkey earlier in the window, gave Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish hardly anything to work with on City’s left. While Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp looked a little nervous early on, both midfielders grew into the game and often won possession to give Spurs the right platform to perform. Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez, so often scared to death and petrified to be proactive last season, cut off and cleared everything City threw at them.
Although you could probably find some similarities, it was not like Tottenham’s win over the same opposition during Jose Mourinho last season. They were so much more comfortable to express themselves in possession, with players like Son, Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn were happy to run with the ball at their feet. There were a couple of moments of indecision from Son early on, but soon he got a swing of things and later gained the confidence to fire past Nathan Ake and crawl into the game’s only goal.
City dominated early and barely gave Spurs a nose in the first 25 minutes, but the desire from the home team showed that the players available for Nuno are more than capable of producing brilliant and resilient performances.
At points last season, Tottenham stopped using their brains during football matches, but Sunday’s win was really pragmatic. It saw Tottenham proactively defend and choose the right moments to play on the counter. Although previous wins against City have been a bit lucky, this one was well deserved. The initial stages aside, they never looked in trouble.
Hugs allround / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
There will of course be dental problems throughout the season for Nuno, but this is the perfect starting point to show that Tottenham can be competitive. They may not have the squad City, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool can boast about, but that should not mean that they should be written off against the sides, as Sunday showed.
Tottenham’s players have often been ridiculed and ridiculed for performances below par, when last season in reality created an incredibly toxic atmosphere for them to try to play their best football.
With a greater emphasis on team cohesion and fan unity from its new boss, and without a manager who enjoys creating division, Spurs can move forward and try to enjoy a positive season without all the annoying background noise.
Well, when it’s known if Harry Kane will stay or not, anyway.
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