As the last minutes of the 90 ticked down at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium supporters witnessed a grimly familiar predicament.
Newly promoted Sheffield United continued to hold a scrappy 0-1 lead which was set to deliver the club’s first three points of the season.
The depressing sight of Spurs losing at home to weaker opponent punctuated the reigns of managers Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho far more regularly than their vaunted reputations promised.
Both suggested, as they were shown the door in North London, that any blights on their record at Spurs were due to factors out of their control.
“They can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me,” Were Conte’s infamous words before he was fired.
But not even six months down the line from the Italian’s tirade about Spurs’ limitations the winds of change do appear to have swept through the club.
Aided in no small part by a new league-wide approach to additional time which punishes teams deliberately delaying the game, as the clock ticked past 90 Tottenham Hotspur roared back.
A full eight minutes into added time the much-maligned Richarlison levelled the scores shortly followed by Dejan Kulusevski who lashed home a winner to complete the comeback.
Once the eruption of joy at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had subsided, not for the first time this season, the air was filled with the sense that, even at this embryonic stage of the campaign, momentum was building.
“We don’t want to get too carried away. It’s our job to stay focused and keep going. But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like there’s something special in the air at the minute,” new signing James Maddison told Sky Sports.
“Just because of the feeling and the way we won against Sheffield United […] I’ve never experienced something like that.”
It’s a credit to the powerful influence new manager Ange Postecoglou has brought during his brief tenure that such optimism is flourishing.
This, after all, was a summer when the club’s greatest-ever goalscorer departed for FC Bayern Munich on the basis that he could achieve more away from North London.
The Power Of Positivity
Much of the positive energy at Tottenham can be attributed to the tone Postecoglou has struck since he began as Spurs coach.
Practically every press conference has produced a clip that demonstrates his down-to-earth nice guy approach, not least because his Australian accent often sees him refer to people as “mate.”
It is a style that couldn’t be in greater contrast with Conte, whose steely blue eyes would moodily survey the room when speaking to the media between downcast remarks and the occasional rant.
Even when Spurs were successful the Italian spoke of a ‘huge gap’ preventing the North Londoners from competing with the best in the division.
But when Postecoglou was asked whether he should get fans to temper expectations he went the other direction.
“No, no, no, let them go, let them enjoy it,” he said after the Sheffield United win, “I’ve said this before, my role is not to burst peoples’ bubbles. Let them get excited and ahead of themselves, that’s the beauty of being a supporter.
“They go through enough pain, let them enjoy and if they think we’re going to be world-beaters great, it’s then up to us to match those expectations. Our supporters deserve to have some happiness and they can enjoy it any way they want to.”
There is a lot of focus when it comes to elite athletes’ mentality on standards and response to failure.
Often the media zeros in on the unforgiving pursuit of success because it’s a more interesting story.
But behind any team or individual’s win are distortedly large amounts of optimism.
After all, fear of failure can only be overcome if there is incredible self-belief.
It’s easy to mock, but what we are witnessing a Spurs is not dissimilar to the sea change that occurred at bitter rivals Arsenal last season where a vast improvement was driven but a groundswell of positivity in the environment.
According to Maddisonk, the good vibes at Tottenham Hotspur can be attributed to the big Australian in the dugout
“He’s a bit different to anyone I’ve worked with before,” the midfielder explained.
“He’s a down-to-the-point, straight-talking man and as a player that’s what you want. You want honesty, someone to tell you how it is.
“He is really good at [motivational speeches]. You come out of a meeting with him ready to run through a wall. He’s a very motivational speaker and it’s a big quality of his. He gets all the players wanting to go and work for him. Everyone is on board and ready to work.
“There was a good example on Saturday with the winning goal. The move was four of the substitutes combined and [Dejan Kulusevski] scored the winner. They’re going on hungry and wanting to do well. Long may that continue and I hope we have a successful period together.”
On Sunday, Tottenham face Arsenal, a true test of whether Ange’s positivity has really had the impact Maddison believes