Tottenham Hotspur’s James Maddison has been named Premier League player of the month. He is the first Spurs player not called Harry Kane to win the award in three years. He is only the second to win it outside of Kane in the last five years, with Heung-min Son the only other Tottenham recipient in that time.
Manager Ange Postecoglou made it a double by collecting the Manager of the Month award. So far Postecoglou’s brief tenure at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been a love affair. The straight-talking Australian even has a song in his honour, a take-off of Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ that even the singer himself performed on social media. It really is a new era in North London.
It is a positive era. A stark contrast to the way things were last season. Spurs are free. Free from the constant fear of losing Kane and the accusations of over-reliance on the England captain. Free from the oppressive and self-centred regimes of managers like Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. While that illustrious pair always treated Spurs like a step down, new boy Postecoglou is managing the biggest club of his career so far.
Along with actually wanting to be in the hot seat, an impression the likes of Conte never gave, the football has also been entertaining. Fans despaired of Mourinho and Conte’s negative tactics while Nuno Espirito Santo did little to inspire during his cup-of-coffee tenure. But ex-Celtic manager Postecoglou has got Spurs winning in style. A rough-and-tumble 5-2 win at Burnley sent them into the international break with spirits high.
All this is happening at a club that should ostensibly be facing their worst fear. Harry Kane, Spurs’ first world class player since the electric flourishes of Gareth Bale’s first tenure, was sold to Bayern Munich this summer. It was a long-predicted doomsday scenario for Tottenham. One that was expected to bring down the club when it eventually transpired.
But doomsday scenarios aren’t always everything they cracked up to be. Like the Mayan prophecy that was supposed to kill us all in 2012 but only resulted in a forgotten John Cusack film, Spurs didn’t end when the Kane clock struck midnight. If anything, the collective neuroses over what would happen when he leaves had been holding Tottenham back.
Every post-season transfer window in recent years featured a Kane story or seventy. Inevitably the constant speculation had a cumulative effect. Fans could not truly look forward with the idea of losing Kane lurking in their rearview. Life without their talisman was considered unthinkable.
But now Tottenham are living that life and it feels like a cloud has been lifted. Not because Kane was anything less than a superb player. He will rightfully go down as a club legend in every sense of the word. But his inevitable exit coloured the mood around the club. Now the plaster has been ripped off, everyone at Spurs can move on.
On the pitch it means appointing new heroes. Maddison has proved to be one of those, hitting the ground running in North London. The attacking midfielder has been tipped for a big move for years. Now he has finally transferred to a ‘big six’ side he is proving everyone right about his outstanding creative abilities.
But old favourites are impressing too. The aforementioned Son, an excellent player but always second-best to Kane, is flourishing once more. Last year he was written off as past his best, a malaise that extended to a poor World Cup in Qatar. But now the 31-year-old looks back to his best, firing in a hat-trick against Burnley.
We’ll see how long the good times last at Spurs. After all, this is a club who spawned an entire adjective to describe their brief highs and inevitable falls. After all, Nuno Espirito Santo also won August’s Manager of the Month award at Spurs two years ago. By November he’d been sacked. Don’t rule out a ‘Spurs-y’ end to this current upturn.
But equally don’t rule out Tottenham keeping their ducks in a row now they’ve painstakingly put them there. Spurs finally have a manager the players and fans buy into. The results on the pitch bear that out. The loss of Kane has been tempered by the end of the sagas surrounding him and new faces like Maddison. There are reasons to be positive at Tottenham. But one can’t help but wonder how long it will last.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change