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The loss of three of the club's great recent players last summer (King, Modric and Van der Vaart) coupled with the arrival of several new signings meant time was going to be needed for this season's squad to adjust to one another (not to mention getting used to new coaches).
Generally though, Tottenham's players have performed well this season. Those already at the club like Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson have notably excelled, while new arrivals including Mousa Dembele and Hugo Lloris have settled in impressively.
The process of establishing a collective understanding of Villas-Boas' methods and tactics, and putting them into practice, has not always gone flawlessly. Adjusting to playing further up the pitch (particularly for the defenders) has seen them caught out on occasion, while establishing an effective attacking identity without the pace of Bale and Aaron Lennon has been one of the season's greater struggles.
The latter especially has repeatedly made evident areas need of improvement (notably quality reinforcements in attack). Save for one or two disappointments (the mostly underwhelming Emmanuel Adebayor, to a lesser extent an inconsistent Benoit Assou-Ekotto), Spurs' have not been wanting for effort though.
Recent weeks emphasized the team's essential spirit as they kept plugging away in games against Basel and Everton. Against Man City on Sunday, this perseverance was crucially topped off with a(n eventual) performance that capitalized on it by securing the three points.
Spurs fans will now be waiting to see whether the City win was a one-off showcase in the limelight, or the spark for a late-season surge. Though Bale is the notable standout in this team, there is talent enough around the Welshman to see them finish strongly.
A good finish is important for this squad to have a chance to achieve its potential sooner rather than later (if at all). Champions League football will not mean instant success—Spurs already know that—but it will give them a greater chance of retaining their best players and augmenting it with the talent necessary to genuinely push on.
That possibility is something for Tottenham fans to be excited about. If everything comes together as they hope in the coming weeks, they might have reason to be more than quietly pleased with their club.