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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

AVB's Christmas Party.

2012 did what Spurs did best. Offer so much promise for it to only crash and burn. Any fond memories deceive me. I won't riddle you with finer details - what went wrong, who was to blame. Everyone has their own opinion  and mine has been available online for months now.

Although, what I have enjoyed, is a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur. We seem to be grabbing games by the scruff of the neck more as the season has worn on. Last year it was tough to identify a real problem area. Sure, another forward would've been nice - a convenience. The true strength in depth we'd craved for so long. But with Ade proving pinnacle up top and with JD waiting in the wings when needed, even then it would've proven more knit-picking than priority.

We've actually addressed our problem of conceding late and all credit to AVB for making changes when they were needed - and they have been needed. I put this down to the side growing into the pressing game that AVB has encouraged the side to pursue and, as a result, we find more and more sides falling into our offside trap. Earlier on in the season, we found ourselves sitting on the edge of our own 18 for large chunks of games. We gave the opposition an open invitation to enjoy possession at our own ground and, at the same time, giving them free access to lump balls into our box. Of late, I've noticed that we press the opposition in midfield far quicker and far smarter than we had. We've cut out their killer balls. We're quick to press opponents' first touch and force them backwards.  Previously, we'd allowed the opponent far more time on the ball before a lacklustre and disappointing attempt at shutting out said opponent. We've grown into this pressing game and are far more intelligent with it.

AVB was given Tottenham with the spine torn from the body. A retired Ledley King, an injured Kaboul, a Modric that fancied more Sun and trophies than wet nights away in Stoke, an injured Parker and - to begin - a missing Adebayor. Not one tear was heard (or seen) dropping from the glorious eyes of our newly appointed Portuguese boss and, instead, like great managers do, he adapted and worked with what he had given.

He redefined the lone striker role. The Portuguese convincing Levy to offer Defoe not only a two year deal but the confidence and belief that any forward craves. He's shown us that the one forward player doesn't need to be a big target man when you have both pace and an eye for goal. Given, Defoe has his faults. He'll one day admit to being born offside. Although standing on the shoulder of the last man is part of Defoe's game and, inevitably, offsides will come. Last year I remember the tirade many of us had with the side for seemingly being to shy to shoot and this is partly why I don't mind Defoe looking for goal before the pass. He will get it wrong, at times, but more often than not he'll find the target.

We find ourselves half way through the season and have enjoyed a successful Christmas that offers a fair summary of AVB's current tenure at Spurs. He's brought the best out in players who seem to be playing more as a unit and with far more belief than what the start of the season seemed to offer.

Aaron Lennon is one that has brought so much more to his game in the last 4 months than he has in the last season or 2. Not only has his crossing impressed but also his variety of crossing has been something that has impressed me. Whether a whipped in ball or a little 'dink' to the far post, he's put in more successful than unsuccessful crosses this year. He's also finding himself with far more space this year, roaming from left to right and, at times, in the centre, to drive at the opposition. He looks for the ball far earlier and constantly finds himself tracking back to help out at the back. Often unnoticed, this is something that can ease the pressure on the full-back and also offers a great opportunity in which to counter.

We'll have days in which the inevitable questions will be raised from those short-minded of you regarding AVB's position (again, oh and again) and, of course, Andre Villas-boas finds himself just 21 Premier League games into his Spurs season.

But, at the moment, he's smashing expectation - and we're loving it.

Ben - Follow me on Twitter here