Eight games into their first league campaign under Ange Postecoglou and having sold Harry Kane, there are precious few Tottenham fans who would have believed they would sit top of the table heading into October’s international break.
Not for the first time since Postecoglou took charge, Spurs were forced to go the hard way round getting three points at Luton.
Yves Bissouma’s dive that brought a second yellow card left his side down to 10 men for the entirety of the second-half.
Yet, they still found a winner through Micky Van de Ven and showed a steel to see out an aerial bombardment that would have undone many more talented Tottenham sides of the past.
Postecoglou has already installed a winning mentality that has seen him lift league titles in Australia, Japan and Scotland in his coaching career.
Doing so at Spurs would dwarf any of those achievements, but with no European football to drain their energy, Tottenham are entitled to start dreaming about what could be possible.
Postecoglou though was sure not to get too far ahead of himself after the win over Luton Town.
“I don’t think you read too much,” the Australian said.
“They’re not silly, they know it’s only October and being top of the league now doesn’t really mean anything tangible apart from the fact that we’ve started the season well.
“It’s not like they’re sitting in there thinking we’ve achieved anything. We haven’t achieved anything. All we’ve done is lay some really good foundations.”
Foundations set up by some shrewd summer signings which have helped fill the void left by Kane while offering Tottenham fans with a reason to believe in what Postecoglou is building.
As Jim White The Telegraph UK of wrote, it is quite the turnaround given Tottenham’s offseason additions — at least on the surface — were initially quite underwhelming and didn’t exactly inspire much confidence at the time.
“There were many Spurs fans disappointed by the additions over the summer,” he wrote in a column for The Athletic.
“The likes of Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie, Guglielmo Vicario and James Maddison were not the headline acts they wanted to see brought in to replace their long standing hero.
“But while other clubs have forked out many millions and still show little sign of cohesion (mentioning no names, Manchester United) Spurs’ recruitment looks shrewd indeed.
“All four were magnificent at Luton, Maddison especially doing much to console those supporters still mourning the departure of Kane. The grin he wore when trotting back to the halfway line after brilliantly setting up Van de Ven for the game’s only goal will have particularly cheered every Tottenham follower.
“It was a smile that said this is a player loving every minute playing for the club. Which is not something that was much in evidence last season.”
Heung-min Son described Maddison, who took out the Premier League’s player of the month award for August, as “something special”.
The 26-year-old leads the Premier League with five assists while also being involved in seven of Tottenham’s 18 goals this season.
It is not just the new additions though, with Postecoglou also bringing the best out of some of Tottenham’s previously underperforming players — most notably central defender Cristian Romero.
Micky van de Ven described Romero as an “amazing and unbelievable player” while Destiny Udogie called his teammate a “real leader”.
“Cristian Romero, so often under Conte playing like a volcano about to erupt, was simply superb,” wrote White.
“Controlled, dynamic, disciplined, it was not hard to see what Lionel Messi was talking about when he called him the best defender in the world.”
Romero originally joined Tottenham on loan before a transfer fee of £42 million ($81m) was later agreed on to make the deal permanent.
“But for all his obvious talent spent his first two years in London as if one reckless tackle from suspension or injury, while giving off strong vibes that he’d rather be playing for Argentina,” added Matt Barlow in a column for the Daily Mail.
“It has been a different story under Postecoglou from the moment early in the first game of the season at Brentford when he scored despite taking a blow to the head and pleaded to stay on when it was clear he had to come off.
“There is more composure and control to his football. It appears the decision to make him one of the team’s new vice-captains at the dawn of this new era seems to have had the desired effect.”
On a broader scale though, former England defender Rio Ferdinand said Postecoglou’s Spurs have developed a “belief and steel” that was lacking in previous Tottenham sides.
“A huge result for that Spurs dressing room,” Ferdinand said on TNT Sports after the win over Luton Town.
“Previously there has been a softness; a weak underbelly. Last year had they come here and gone down to ten men, they would lose that game.
“Ange Postecoglou has implemented a confidence, belief and steel to this side. They have shown that they can grind out results today.”
Even still, former Premier League players Chris Sutton and Stephen Warnock both agreed Postecoglou would have seen plenty of room for improvement out of Tottenham’s latest win.
“In the first 10 minutes Tottenham had 97 per cent of possession, which just tells you how dominant they were,” Stephen Warnock said on BBC’s Final Score.
“Five opportunities at goal. They should have done better. They should have been out of sight. As great as Tottenham are, he will still want to improve them and he’ll still be saying, ‘That can’t happen against other teams where we’re dominant for so long because you will get punished’.”
“He’s finding the English Premier League really easy, Ange Postecoglou,” Sutton added on BBC’s Final Score.
“He’s got off to a phenomenal start. His brand of football is excellent but getting results and today was big for him, especially when they went down to 10 men.
“The truth is they could have been out of sight in the first 10 minutes. It could’ve been two or three up, didn’t take the chances which is unlike Tottenham a little bit… but getting over the line, three points and top of the table. Spurs fans are in heaven.
“To think that Harry Kane has left the club, a guy who lost so many games for them. They’re playing a wonderful brand of football. It’s front-foot football, they take the game to the opposition and Spurs are absolutely flying.”
Originally published as How Ange calmed $81m ‘volcano’ and filled glaring Spurs hole with ‘shrewd’ moves: UK View