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.

News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links