And breathe.

We made it to the unnatural break against the odds, still in the top four. I repeat that I don’t think this ‘modus operandi’, routinely going behind and pulling the irons out of the fire in the nick of time is sustainable but so far the boys have defied gravity not got their fingers burned and proved my fears misplaced.

However, we’re not quite halfway there yet and just below us the waters are churning. United also riding their luck, are looking ominous and Liverpool are steadily getting their act together. We lost to both and Arsenal who are showing everyone a clean pair of heels.

We have lost to 3 of the top four and the City game was postponed thus preventing a clean sweep. If we can re-assemble without too much damage after the World Cup to bodies or egos; perhaps make a signing or two in the January window, then we can re-set and go again. Preferably for my heart’s sake more on the front foot from the start.

Kulusevski, the revelation of the season so far, won’t be going to the World Cup as Sweden didn’t qualify, so he has time to fully recover. Left at home he will probably fall off a ladder doing some decorating but that’s a worst-case scenario.

Dejan Kulusevski

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The other key emergence of the first part of the season is Rodrigo Betancur who is not only driving the team forward from midfield but scoring goals as well. The finest pair of bargain signings in the recent history of Spurs if not the whole football world.

Where this insipid start approach comes from is not clear. I suspect Conte but perhaps he just doesn’t have the players to do otherwise. The squad seems ill-suited to his tactical needs and is probably not of sufficient quality in any case. Thankfully it is punching above its weight.

Harry Kane is running on fumes but still scoring goals; Sonny is not so sorely missed because he was not having a good season. Dier is looking edgy and Bissoma, Lenglet and Richarlison have not quite settled into their roles. Sessegnon, Doherty and Emerson need upgrading.

Probably Davies too though he played well against Leeds. Hugo is not the force he was and his ability on the ball a basic weakness for the modern approach. So much for us and Antonio to ponder while we have the chance.

Djed Spence, Bryan Gil and Japhet Tanganga are the forgotten men of the squad and we have missed the ruthlessness of Romero. It may account for the hesitancy of Dier recently. Perisic has demonstrated his experience; Sanchez has stepped up, more or less, when required but Hojbjerg is playing very much in the shadow of Betancur.

Our great hope for One of Our Own, Oliver Skipp, has stalled after injury and he is not back to his previous level. But he’s young and has time. Fraser Foster played well in the loss to Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup

Our final game before the New Year is away to Brentford on Boxing Day which takes us as near as dammit to half way. Win that and we maintain our 2 points per-game average and keep ahead of the jostling crowd behind us. But let’s not get too carried away. The Crystal ball is clouding over.

Should we lose and United win our goal difference will send us into the New Year in 4th. Unless of course, they hammer Nottingham Forest by a cricket score but I can’t see it myself.

The ‘Comeback Kings’ have progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League and sit in one of the sought-after places in the qualification stakes for next year. I’m not quite sure how we have managed it, but it would be churlish not to acknowledge the fact,

I am pleased but increasingly nervous. The squad has shown spirit and the crucial ‘bouncebackability’ required to survive at the top, given our predilection for slow starts and coming from behind.

It’s not what I think of as the ‘Spurs way’ and it’s not that entertaining except in a masochistic kind of way and I can’t see us winning a trophy this year but it’s gonna have to do.

Apparently, there is more than one way to skin a rabbit so I’m going to do my best to enjoy it even if it is from behind the sofa with the dog.

Happy World Cup and Merry Xmas to you all.