Having endured one of the most embarrassing results of his managerial career, Mauricio Pochettino ended a testing week with a smile and three points against his former club Southampton.
“A few months ago we played in the Champions League final, not because of luck, it was because we fully deserved to be there. We cannot have changed too much in a few months,” said the Argentine after goals by club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane inspired Spurs to a 2-1 win against Southampton – despite playing with 10 men for about an hour.
The result went some way to dispersing storm clouds that had been gathering following back-to-back defeats.
After an unconvincing start to the Premier League campaign, Spurs remain 10 points behind leaders Liverpool, but this result and spirited performance will bring Pochettino and his players some much needed relief after winning just two of their previous nine top-flight matches – a run stretching back to last season.
Their slow start meant they began the day closer to the bottom three than the top two.
However, it will take more than a narrow win over Southampton to convince critics they are completely over their troubles – particularly after Serge Aurier’s needless red card and a goalkeeping blunder by skipper Hugo Lloris.
At the final whistle, Pochettino joined his players on the pitch applauding fans who bellowed out Lloris’ name following a game which brought out the worst – and the very best – from the France keeper.
The Spurs boss looked as relaxed as he has been for a long time as relief cascaded from the stands after a return to winning ways.
But despite the three points, four months on from the Champions League final something is still not quite right at Spurs this season.