So the end is nigh. Another enthralling season seeks to find its end as we once more find ourselves in an all to typical blindly-hoping-on-another-team-to-do-us-a-favour end of season debacle. Although it's not quite a debacle is it? We're on course to hit our record number of points in the Premier League but the inevitability grows that Europa League football will, once more, be our European path.
That's unfortunate, but barely raises an eyebrow. If you had to label one club this could happen to, it would be Spurs. I'm a fan of broken records, so here's another. For a manager that was hung out to dry by the press, pundits, 'experts' and both a minority of our own and masses of rival fans, AVB's had a remarkably commendable season. You'd have snatched sitting on 69 points after the penultimate game of the season. Has the League become easier or have we become more competitive? Probably a portion of both.
We kicked off pre-season in the USA and AVB sought to lay down the basics foundations of how he wanted us to play. He set out a blue-print for the forthcoming season, that I highlighted here, tinkering subtly based upon the opposition that sat in front of us. We slowly grew into a pressing game, each player learnt their role and soon enough a group of players soon became a team. This is why I refuse to knock our early results. We were still waiting to 'tick'. Despite conceding points early on to West Brom & Norwich we persisted with the system. This season, for me, truly emphasised that patience is a true art. Critiscism seemed far easier to give at the time but I stubbornly felt (even admitting almost 'blind faith') that the right building blocks were being implemented under AVB at Spurs.
Those that know me know that I'm one of the more pessimistic Spurs fan you could come across. Although I feel next season should give reason to fuel that ounce of hope with optimism. Without sounding to Scouse, next year could be one that holds a lot of promise. I emphasise the word could. Injuries can dictate the path a season takes. It's football. We knew losing Kaboul in the early stages would be a bitter pill but then struggled immensely without Sandro in January with Parker playing a shadow of his former self. It's hard to comprehend we've made a fair challenge at 4th, alongside a gruelling Europa League run and yet have two forwards that have struggled to deal with the demands of this season.
So where's the promise?
A young cast-off came in and adopted a side that was largely short of the players that were so key last year; so vital in grabbing us 4th place. A young side.
We'll continue to spend within our means and thus grow organicly, remaining competitive without the need to sell our souls. I'm both proud and tentatively confident of that (confidence is a rare feat with me). Wigan, if anything, should shed some light on that it's not only big wallets that guarantee trophies. We've shown enough heart to punch above our own weight, with individual brilliance pushing us that extra step.
We'll build and learn from this. The players have had a year together, our coach has had a relatively controversial free season and we've looked more of a team after every game we play. I hate feeling optimistic about anything, it usually leaves me with hollow disappointment - an empty shell, but I just can't help but feel that maybe we have the springboard stable enough to jump back up to where we feel we're more than capable of finishing.
This isn't writing off our chances Sunday, this is merely explaining that there's no reason to feel any dismay if we were to finish 5th.
Ben - Follow me on Twitter - @InsideN17