Given Tottenham’s preseason ambitions, their current league position is a shining example of how unpredictable football can be.
Many called Spurs a team to watch this season—and even went so far as to predict a drive into the top three. In the space of two months, though, that bubble burst spectacularly.
Five points from seven games, two home defeats, two more away, a couple of draws, and a solitary victory against Derby—that was the situation Spurs found themselves in before their 125th anniversary game against Aston Villa.
Martin Jol’s hold on the manager job became increasingly tenuous as stories of cloak-and-dagger meetings with foreign coaches were splashed across the back pages of the tabloids. Jol stayed positive, but chairman Daniel Levy’s vote of confidence sounded hollow at best.
Jol's prospects looked to brighten when his team came back from a 4-1 deficit to earn a 4-4 draw with Villa, but the jolly Dutchman's fate was sealed by a disappointing draw against Liverpool and an abysmal display against Newcastle.
Another foreigner—Spaniard Juande Ramos, who vowed to shake up the team and do things his way.
After watching his new side concede a last-minute goal to lose at home to Blackburn, Ramos set about his task. His influence was already apparent in two away draws and a 4-0 win over Wigan, as players like Dimitar Berbatov and Jermaine Jenas began to show what they were made of.
The offensive exploits of Berbatov, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe, and midfielder Steed Malbranque helped compensate for poor defensive play, and good things began to happen. To its credit, the defence has looked sturdier in the last few games, with Robinson showing more confidence and players like Kevin Prince-Boateng and Jamie O’Hara getting a chance to contribute.
After an unlucky defeat at home to Birmingham on another last-minute goal, Ramos’ men bounced back with two consecutive wins against Manchester City and Portsmouth—the latter their first away victory of the season.
With the January transfer window set to open, Ramos could look to land defensive replacements. Coupled with a robust attack and an improving midfield, the right pieces could mean big things for Tottenham.
As it stands, the club have 18 points on the board, with two home games and a tussle with local rivals Arsenal next on the fixture list.
As "Auld Lang Syne" rings in 2008, Spurs should resolve to tighten up at the back, stop conceding in the last minute, and pick up more points away from home.
That would make for a most happy New Year indeed.