Injuries are an unfortunate reality of professional sports and often times they can make or break the character and momentum of a team. That hasn't been true for Tottenham, however, despite the fact that in some matches they've had to play with four full-backs on defense.
It started with the unforgettable 4-1 loss to Chelsea in November which saw James Maddison and Micky van de Ven begin their months-long recovery processes, leaving the team without two of their most important players on each end of the pitch. The issue only permeated from there, as Spurs lost Bentancur, Richarlison, and a few others for months at a time earlier this campaign.
It seems for the time being that the crisis has lessened - as fans continue to hold their breath and cross their fingers - but the memory of the moment, along with Tottenham's continued efforts and successes in league action, leave us pondering how a new manager with such a young squad was able to pull the team out of their place of distress.
Ange was recently asked about the effort to get back into the top four, and speaking with reporters he referred to the character of his players, their "spirit," and "togetherness" as a team: "I think that's testament to the players more than anything else and the character of the players because we have had some real challenges., We're not the only club to have had injuries but we've had some fairly significant ones. That on the back of pretty much changing everything about the environment, it hasn’t been exactly [a] stable launchpad for the players' consistency. I think this group of players has really banded together well in terms of the spirit they have and the togetherness they have to overcome these things," said the Australian gaffer.
Anyone who's been following the team - and Ange throughout his career - will know that the squad's identity, in terms of their style of play, has remained consistent across the past seven months. Reiterating his tactical purity, and how that has seeped into the subconscious of his players during their times of struggle, Ange stated that "Even in days when we've had difficulties, our football level hasn’t dropped too much and results - we had a spell when we lost a few games - but even then we were right in those games. I think we are where we are today because of the players and their character. That's important because you can’t have just the football, you need the other stuff, and sometimes that's more important when you're trying to build something."
The team have certainly gelled together nicely this season, as have the newcomers, and it's something which the manager and players will continue to work towards as they prepare for what will soon be the final months of league play.
Spurs take on Everton tomorrow as they look to hold onto the top four spot they've now found themselves in.