Ange Postecoglou hailed 10-man Tottenham after their 1-0 win at Luton but insisted they have achieved nothing by going top of the Premier League in October.
Spurs produced a gritty display to claim all three points at Kenilworth Road after Micky van de Ven scored his first goal for the club in the 52nd minute following James Maddison’s cut-back.
Tottenham’s task was made a whole lot harder when Yves Bissouma was sent off for two bookable offences towards the end of the first half, the second yellow card for simulation, but Postecoglou’s team held firm in the face of late Luton pressure.
“Two different halves, I thought we played some great football in the first half. I thought it was as good as we’ve played and we probably should have been two or three up,” Postecoglou said.
“Obviously the red card changes the game but again I thought the lads handled it really well. They stayed calm and composed.
“In the end just the sheer will and effort of them to make sure we won, not just the starters but the guys coming on, it was a great collective effort.
“Biss made a mistake. He has been brilliant for us this year. He made a mistake and the good thing is how he reacts to these things.
“His team-mates made sure that mistake didn’t cost us and I’m sure when Biss gets back in the team he will reciprocate and make sure that whatever else happens he can get us over the line.
“With all these things I always look at reactions. What are we doing about it? I thought the reaction was outstanding.”
Victory helped Spurs take over from Manchester City at the Premier League summit with the champions in action on Sunday away to last season’s runners-up Arsenal.
A draw at the Emirates Stadium would keep Tottenham top for the international break, but Postecoglou played down their league position – despite this being their best start to a top-flight season since the club’s 1960-61 double-winning campaign.
He added: “I don’t think you read too much. They’re not silly, they know it’s only October and being top of the league now doesn’t really mean anything tangible apart from the fact that we’ve started the season well.
“It’s not like they’re sitting in there thinking we’ve achieved anything. We haven’t achieved anything. All we’ve done is lay some really good foundations.
“Our goals and ambitions lay in improvement. Can we play better? Can we become a better team? And if we do that then we’ll see where that takes us.”
Luton boss Rob Edwards was frustrated that another strong display failed to produce any points.
Spurs started impressively and could have been 3-0 up inside 10 minutes but Richarlison sliced over from close range before Thomas Kaminski saved another effort by the Brazilian and Pedro Porro rolled wide when one-on-one.
Tottenham remained on top until Bissouma’s red card when he went down under close proximity to Marvelous Nakamba, but there had been no contact and referee John Brooks showed the visiting midfielder a second yellow card.
The clash played in front of a partisan Kenilworth Road crowd hinged on a crucial five minutes after half-time when Elijah Adebayo could not convert Chiedozie Ogbene’s dangerous cross from the right in the 47th minute.
Soon after Van de Ven tapped home when Maddison spun away from Alfie Doughty and picked out the Dutch defender in the six-yard box.
“We had a huge opportunity, a massive chance we didn’t take and we’ve been punished for it because we switched off for the short corner. Those two moments are big in the game,” Edwards reflected.
“They are top of the Premier League, they will have chances and we are new to it. I was really pleased with a lot of what I saw, but I am really disappointed and flat as well.”