Despite the driving rain and dark skies above, there was a collective spring in everyone’s step as training ended in Enfield on Friday lunchtime and the Tottenham players strolled back over the manicured lawns having finished final preparations ahead of their Monday Night Football clash with Fulham.
And why not, with the north London side sitting top of the table going into the weekend (albeit they now sit fourth) thanks to an unbeaten start to the season under new head coach Ange Postecoglou, who has made history by becoming the first boss to win the Premier League manager of the month award twice in his first two months in the job.
“It is fair to say it’s been an encouraging start, it is probably reflective of the expectations going into it as people did not expect us to be performing this well,” said the Spurs boss when we sat down to chat at the club’s pristine training ground.
“People look at us at the moment with curiosity more than anything else.”
The Australian is right, too, to subtly remind people of some of those bleak pre-season predictions after the team finished down in eighth place last season, before losing their all-time record goalscorer Harry Kane in the summer.
But, so far, after six wins from eight league games saw them just ahead of local rivals Arsenal on goals scored at the Premier League summit ahead of the weekend games, he and his players have proved the naysayers wrong.
Big Ange, though, has been doing that his whole career.
“From my perspective, the results have obviously been great, but I’ve really been pleased with our performances every week,” said Postecoglou. “We have been really consistent both home and away against difficult opponents, we have had different sorts of challenges in every game.
“But we’ve maintained a really consistent level, there has not been many parts of a game where I thought our levels have dropped. And that is what is encouraging for us in terms of what we are trying to build.”
The exciting thing as far as the team and fans are concerned, however, is the players have not reached anywhere near their ceiling yet having only worked with their new manager for four months.
So, despite possessing the third-best defence and attack in the top flight, Postecoglou says Spurs are still very much a work in progress.
Intriguingly, it is the latter he feels needs most work on, while it is the former that has given him most satisfaction so far, especially when you consider Spurs have virtually an entire new back five this season.
“It is ongoing,” he said of the process of reinvigorating the club’s attack after last season’s travails under previous boss Antonio Conte.
“When you talk about a transformation, we have a lot of new players in, a new manager, a new way of playing, that kind of shift is always going to take some time.
“To be honest, that part our game is still the area that has the most improvement in it, the attacking side of our game – we can be even more aggressive in the way we play and create even more opportunities.
“But I would balance that up in the tremendous resilience we’ve shown and the defensive solidity we’ve had considering we’ve had a totally new back line and a new midfield set-up. So it’s kind of a balancing act these things of wanting to be this kind of team, but also understanding you have to build some other aspects of the side.
“At the moment we are juggling that pretty well, but I still think when we become the team I want us to become, that is the area we still have the most improving to do in – the attacking areas.”
Meanwhile, at the back, it is the impressive new central-defensive partnership formed between Cristian Romero and summer signing Micky van de Ven that has really delighted Postecoglou, even more so when he concedes he thought this is a part of the team that would struggle initially.
“That is the area where we have got to a place where there is a real understanding between the whole group in terms of our defensive principles,” he said. “Because my experience in football is understanding between defenders, particularly goalkeeper, becomes really important in terms of critical moments in a game of football when there is not a lot of time to think.
“Those things take time and if anything I thought we’d be more open than we have been in games and that is credit to the guys we have had playing there and the work the coaches have done on the training tracks to give them a good understanding.
“And, for me, part of the exciting thing is that we are still in the early stages, so as they do get more and more understanding hopefully that continues to grow.”
However, while everything looks rosy in the Spurs garden right now, the 58-year-old is not content to stop and smell those roses, instead he wants more from his new charges.
“They have to [get even better], that is my role and when I keep on saying we are still in the building stage, it is not because I am trying to downplay expectations, it is because it is the truth,” he said.
“We are eight games into a new cycle, four months into a new training regime with a new way of playing and thinking, a lot of our players are just beginning their Premier League careers.
“That is my responsibility now and we can’t get sidetracked, as I’ve been in this position before where I’ve gone into a club and not had the smoothest of starts. And what I have done during that time is be really strong, I know this is the road we are going down lads, just keep your heads, this is where we are going.
“It is just as important if things are going well not to move away from it. We are at the beginning of what we want to build, my responsibility, and I try not to shy away from it, is to keep improving and get better than we are today.
“Sometimes it is easier to do that when things are not going well because the players in that moment are looking to you and what you are going to do. And whenever I have done that and things have not started well, players are looking at my response, is this guy going to change all of a sudden? Is he going to change his approach, the way he talks and trains us?
“And I never did and it is just as important when things are going well because the players are now looking at me and thinking, is he happy with how we are going?
“And what they are seeing with me is what the Celtic players saw and everyone else in that I come in today and every day thinking, we are going to be better than this. Do not worry about we are going to play this way, this is who we are going to be as a football team.”
The next challenge for Spurs is a London derby with Fulham on Monday night against a Cottagers side who have already knocked Postecoglou and co out of this season’s Carabao Cup, as well as leaving this part of town with a 2-2 draw after stunning Arsenal late on in the league in August.
So Postecoglou knows exactly what a tough examination awaits him and his players in front of the Sky cameras at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“Fulham is going to be a great test, a great manager too in Marco Silva, we played them in the cup and were not successful and away from home, they are always a tough team to overcome and they’ll be a challenge,” he said.
“We have only had three home games so far out of the eight, it is fair to say our home games have been fairly eventful, a Monday night, the atmosphere is going to be great. I’m really looking forward to it, it will be an exciting game and one in which we are going to need to be at our very best to overcome a tough opponent.”
As for any long-term aims he may be setting the players, such as Champions League football, or even the Premier League title, well the straight-talking Greek-born Aussie does not do targets.
Instead, he does make one prediction and it is an exciting one if you are a Spurs supporter – that this is just the start of the ‘Postecoglou Project’, with way more to come from him and his players.
I’ll be bitterly disappointed if we have not improved as a football club from where we are now. I still think we have so much more improvement in us.
“I’ll be bitterly disappointed if we have not improved as a football club from where we are now,” he said with utter conviction. “I still think we have so much more improvement in us and that is what I am looking at.
“And if at the end of the year we are in the main leaders, it might surprise a few people, but it won’t surprise me because I have no set targets and wherever we finish, is where we finish.”
Watch Tottenham vs Fulham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 6.30pm on the Monday Night Football; kick-off 8pm