Date: 26th February 2013 at 3:36pm
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Gareth Bale and Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur

Well that was good fun, wasn’t it?

Given the eulogising that’s donned more or less every corner of the digital footballing sphere over the past 12 hours, there’s not particularly much left to say about Gareth at the moment.

For all the really quite absurd amounts of potential supporters saw in him, it’s difficult to believe quite how far his journey’s come from a hair-clipped full-back of fragility to one of European football’s most devastating weapons. Make no mistake about it, watching him play in a Spurs shirt is a blessing at the moment and long may that continue.

Although while we were ultimately busted out of jail with three points by a moment of individual brilliance, looking past Gareth Bale – if that’s at all possible – the team left us with some real reasons to be positive going forward.

There’s a huge part of the journey still to go, although for the first time in recent memory, it feels as if the side have grown a pair of grapefruits, for want of a better word. And that really could be the difference between finishing in and out of the Champions League places.

At 2-1 down against a side as tentative and organized as have been under , the stage was set for a classic Spurs wilt. It was exactly the sort of scenario in which we’ve seen us, time and time again crumble under the circumstances and politely amble on towards defeat. Not anymore.

For all the tactical evolution under , it’s been the Portuguese’s ability to drill it into this side to not know when they’ve been beaten, that feels almost as impressive as anything else we’ve seen this season.

At 2-1 down when planted his header straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen, we didn’t lay down, run out of ideas or accept the fate that usually befits us when the chips are down. This Spurs side sacked up, pulled their socks up and kept coming back for more and while Bale’s goal quite rightly seized all the headlines, there was something remarkably underappreciated about ’s equalizer.

The goal itself was just about as polarizing in quality to Bale’s stunner that you could possibly get, but it was the fact it did come that was the most important thing. So often when we’ve expected the goal to arrive when putting the gas on – be it against QPR or Villa away last year or even against the R’s or this season – it simply hasn’t been forthcoming.

But this time, it did. While we’re all perhaps too scalded by past failures to indulge in cautious optimism, you get the impression that these are a set of players that are really beginning to believe in both themselves and also the manager. There’s only so much you can read into raucous celebrations in the heat of the moment, but the fact Bale ran straight over to Villas-Boas felt telling.

Whether this newfound steeliness is going to be enough see us through to the end of the season, only time will tell. Although beat the Arse at home this weekend and we could be on the verge of something special. Most importantly, you get the impression the players are looking for three points on Sunday out of expectation, rather than just hope.

COYS

@samuel_antrobus