Don't panic! Tottenham must trust themselves as they strive for Champions League qualification

Three defeats on the trot has completely altered the psyche pervading around White Hart Lane

Spurs go into the international break wearing adapted Mario Balotelli t-shirts: why always us? That old feeling of falling at the last, of watching Arsenal skip past on the rails is returning after three successive defeats. Instead of looking at a table that shows Tottenham in fourth spot after 30 games, the White Hart Lane diaspora is beset by a collective sense of doom as if the roof is about to fall in.

This is a team that won at Manchester United, that triumphed in the North London derby, that progressed to the last eight of the Europa League, that includes Gareth Bale among its number, that is in fourth place on merit. Yet the highs are not given houseroom in the minds of supporters locked into old rhythms.

Arsenal fans were sending the undertakers to the Emirates after the defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Gunners ebb had never been flatter since Bruce Rioch was at the helm. Then what happens? They cream a two-goal victory in Munich and return from Swansea with a win by the same margin. Quietly, in the eyes of Spurs fans, the Gunners are seen to be making a move.

The nail-biters better not look at the fixtures, either. Of their rivals for a Champions League spot Arsenal have only Everton to play at home. Beyond that only Manchester United at the Emirates a fortnight later presents a notional obstacle. Spurs face home games against Everton and Manchester City and Chelsea away. Chelsea also play Everton at home on the last day of the season and face awkward trips to Liverpool and United as well as relegation strugglers Aston Villa and Southampton.

But no passage to Champions League nirvana was ever achieved on paper. Of the recent defeats, Spurs were well in the game at Liverpool and lost by the odd goal. Who would have predicted a heavy defeat for Liverpool at Southampton immediately after that? Spurs were flogged in Milan on Thursday and suffered a limp defeat to Fulham yesterday. Sir Alex Ferguson speaks all night about the difficulty of performing in the Premier League immediately after European engagements, win lose or draw.

Since United’s narrow defeat to Real Madrid they have surrendered a two-goal lead at home to Chelsea in the FA Cup and edged past Reading by the only goal at Old Trafford. But there is no gnashing of teeth in Manchester. It is part of the game’s natural bio-rhythms that teams hit spells when the mojo is absent, as it was for Spurs after the win at United. At times like these it is important that teams trust themselves, remind themselves of the qualities that over 30 games have prevailed. The pattern of the first 75 per cent of the season is likely to repeat over the final quartile.

Spurs have 12 days to regroup before the trip to Swansea. The international break might re-invest the absent players with the enthusiasms required for the final push. The successive fixtures in April against Everton (home), Chelsea (away) and Manchester City (home) have the potential to determine outcomes, but not necessarily. The closing fixtures against Southampton (home). Stoke (away) and Sunderland (home) might prove equally vital.

But there is nothing to fear. The evidence of the first 30 games, not the last three, demonstrates that much.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower