F*ck me: Is James Maddison the best player in England right now?
Alright, fun’s over. Who’s got the Tottenham voodoo doll and why are you suddenly making them a proper football team, complete with the best playmaker in Europe?
In a summer where it was all meant to go even more pear-shaped than it already had done at Spurs following the inevitable explosion and departure of Antonio Conte, things couldn’t possibly have gone any better.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity and accepting their very real, Spursy fate, fans have instead been treated to electrifying football and weekly karaoke of Robbie Williams after watching their side play teams off the park.
They’ve had plenty of purple patches and nearly moments before, but something feels different this time. That Spursy energy has faded and continues to do so with a louder rendition of ‘Angels’ every week.
Despite losing star man Harry Kane and it feeling like the apocalypse had arrived at the club as a result, Tottenham look better than ever.
Their recruitment was shrewd, their stadium is glorious, they’ve got a tactically astute Aussie hunk in the hot seat and they’re top of the Premier League.
We need to talk about one man in particular, though. Mr. main man at the roast dinner himself, James Maddison.
As Big Ange would say, maaate.
When he’s not going out of his way to shake the chef’s hand at the carvery and getting first dibs on the roast potatoes, he’s being possibly the best player in England right now.
It felt like a shock at the time when Spurs were able to close a reported £40million deal to sign Maddison from relegated Leicester mostly unopposed, but even with that shock, nobody expected him to hit the ground running quite like he has.
But the champion of the Sunday roast has smashed it from the off, becoming an immediate FPL hero as well as a Spurs hero, revitalising Son Heung-min to the point where Spurs don’t actually miss Harry Kane, and weighing in with eight goal contributions in his first 10 games.
He’s been scintillating from the off and he’s getting his flowers as a result, but it’s been a slow burner for the man pinging passes up and down England like it’s nobody’s business.
Breaking through at Coventry, Maddison exploited the loan system brilliantly before eventually building enough stock to earn a move to Leicester in 2018.
It was over that five-year period where he went from a streaky midfielder with a big quiff, to a refined playmaker with some of the best numbers in a league, desperate to be snapped up by a top club.
Now that he has, he’s thriving. We’re not only loving Big Ange instead, we’re loving Madders.
No player has made more key passes (29) in the Premier League this season, nor has any midfielder registered more goals and assists in the league than him since last season.
And as they swept aside Fulham, he finally got his first goal at home for his new side. The icing on the cake of an exceptional start to life in London.
WHAT A SEASON JAMES MADDISON IS HAVING! 👏
His first goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/6GkHNpuDeg
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 23, 2023
Is it his most flashy finish? No, but it epitomises everything he’s been so brilliant at this season.
A cold-blooded killer, waiting to pounce and take chance after chance.
In what is quietly the hardest position on the pitch, the 26-year-old is making it look absurdly easy. And while Jude Bellingham is doing a very similar thing over in Madrid, it’s Maddison whose influence and instant impact is being somewhat overlooked.
Credit has to go to Postecoglou for steering the ship in the opposite direction and immediately implementing a system that gets the best out of Maddison’s strengths.
In a more traditional number 10 spot, the England international has taken up a role not too dissimilar to that of Bruno Fernandes’ at Manchester United, with an impact as scarily similar to the Portuguese’s when he arrived at Old Trafford in 2020.
He’s been so unwaveringly devastating that even Harry Kane must be having regrets about not being able to run onto the end of those crisp through balls every week.
Instead, he’s in Munich watching Son strike up a new bromance with north London – and Toby Carvery’s – main man, throwing imaginary darts in celebration while Postecoglou serenades us with anecdotes.
For all the jokes about his desire to be the main man at a roast dinner, he backs it up.
The season is long Spurs have plenty to do in order to not make a complete Spurs of their season, but with Maddison as their lynchpin, they can’t go far wrong.
Give him his flowers while he blossoms; the undisputed best player in England right now.
Have as many Yorkshire puds as you want as long as you keep it up, Madders.