All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

Spurs 0-1 Wolves: Personnel, Tactics Or A More Familiar Problem?

I’m not sure what the seven stages of grief are (or whether there are actually eight, rather than seven?) but the mood around these parts is encapsulated by nothing more than a wearied, philosophical shrug.This sort of shambles can no longer really be classified as just an isolated incident. We seem to be returning to the good old, bad old Spurs. Which is a shame, because over the first couple of months of the season I genuinely believed – fool that I am – that we might have turned a corner, and evolved into a team that routinely turned over the Premiership riff-raff and won all those “home-bankers”. Alas, not so.

Not for the first time a bunch of spoilers have turned up, defended for their lives, taken their only chance and scuttled off back up the High Road before we can even yelp “But just look at how much possession we had, dagnabbit.” When we score first (and early) in such games the floodgates tend to open, which is dandy. Generally however, that 10-man-defence-and-double-marking-of-Lennon routine is one that befuddles us. Plenty of encouragement then for other Premiership strugglers to adopt a similar mentality, and food for thought for our glorious leader, who needs to stumble upon a way to un-fuddle this problem pronto.

Despite this however, there is no particularly profound sense of morbidity at AANP Towers, just that philosophical shrug. The football we are playing is still decent, if not exactly scintillating. There was a slightly anxious resort to the long-ball once Crouch lollopped on, but generally we stuck to our principles, used the ball fairly intelligently (for this I doff my cap at Kranjcar once more) and made a handful of half-chances, against a side camping around their own penalty area. The defeat to Stoke earlier in the season, and also Man Utd a couple of months back, had me cursing far more angrily because on those occasions there seemed to be so little invention and movement. Losing at home to Wolves remains a horrendous result, but we have not become a bad team overnight.

The blow of yesterday’s defeat is also cushioned by the fact that our direct challengers generally seem to be matching us stride for stumbling stride. Villa may have overtaken us but their next faux pas is likely to be just around the corner. Man City and Liverpool both have the worrying potential to string a good half-dozen successive wins together, but neither have pulled away from us. We ought not to rely on others slipping up, but the fact is that everyone is doing it, even Chelski and Man Utd.

Disclaimer: As a fan, with no control over what happens on the pitch, I can get away with saying this. However, if any of the players adopt either of the sentiments voiced in the previous two paragraphs they ought to have limbs chopped off. Those guys ought to be busting a gut to win every time, because i ) it is within their control, and ii) they are paid to do as much.

’Arry’s Selections

As for matters on the pitch, ‘Arry sprung a bit of a surprise before kick-off. The absences of Bentley and Pav were understandable given the recent rumblings from the corridors of White Hart Lane, but while I searched high and low there was not a Jenas in sight. Interesting. Might we have benefited from the presence of his rarely-spotted alter ego – Genuinely Potent Attacking Jenas – in the second half, when Crouch was winning the occasional header but no-one was around to pick up the scraps?

Keane coming in for Crouch was an eye-catching selection. While the pointy-shouty tantrum he threw when not awarded a first-half corner was one which my two year-old nephew would have stepped back and observed in awe, that it was his most notable contribution says much.

At various points we had Defoe, Keane, Crouch, Modric, Kranjcar, Lennon, Giovani and the Hudd on the pitch, and still couldn’t score against a team that had kept only one clean-sheet all season. I am tempted to suggest that perhaps a genuine dribbler – a la Taraabt – may have helped to draw defenders and squeeze an opening (although dribbling is one of the assets Giovani supposedly brings), but the problem does not really seem to be a shortage of attack-minded personnel.

Tactically there were a couple of grumbles. We might have benefited from greater willingness from the central midfielders to get into the area for crosses, particularly when Crouch is on the pitch doing his nod-down routine. And a propos Crouch, bona fide crosses – ie from the wing, getting to the by-line – rather than long-balls from deep, might work better for the big man.

Generally however, although it’s a lazy conclusion at which to arrive, the principal problem was the same one we’ve had since the days of yore. A bloody-minded desire to accept nothing less than victory at any cost was conspicuous by its absence. Daws seems the only blighter with any leadership juices flowing through his veins. Somehow ‘Arry has to find the football equivalent of the Sword of Omens, to turn our poor lambs into a bunch of bad-ass commandoes with fire in their bellies.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Spurs – Wolves Preview: Which Direction For The Tottenham Bandwagon This Week?

Roll up, one and all. Tickets are now available for the Tottenham Hotspur bandwagon, which rolls into town once again on Saturday. Come the final whistle against Wolves we can all get a little too carried away once again, on a wave of euphoria/doom (delete as appropriate). The only question regards the direction in which we head.The finale at Goodison Park left several of our number kicking in their televisions, burning their season tickets and, with a final declaration that the team won’t win anything EVER, scrabbling atop tall buildings and leaping.

Well, not quite, but it was a mighty angry backlash. Should we follow up by losing at home to Wolves (or even winning unconvincingly) such places as the Comments sections of Spurs blogs will resemble a war-zone.

The mood at AANP Towers remains closer to euphoric than doom-laden (and not just because the entire first draft of Spurs’ Cult Heroes is now complete – get in!) on the back of our recent performances. We’ve goals in us, I tell thee, and I’m therefore peddling the This-Season-We’ll-Make-Champions-League line. Kranjcar and Lennon have been bristling with goodness in recent weeks, and although his radar was ever-so-slightly awry last weekend, Defoe’s movement remains sharp. Despite recent results we are playing well, and someone sooner or later is going to get a spanking. (And the last time such a sentiment was mumbled Wigan came bounding in to town.) Beat Wolves soundly and that Champions League drum will be given another pounding; such is life at Spurs. Black or white. Triumph or disaster.

(Why it is always one extreme or another I’m not too sure. Maybe it is the dawn of omnipresent media coverage, with 24-hour news channels and instantly-accessible internet creating a void for headlines that has to be filled constantly. Well if this is the case, I bestow a thousand violent curses upon that despicable breed who shamelessly use the internet to peddle their own incessant personal- what’s that you say?)

Glory Be. He’s Back

Ross: This is the most beautiful natural thing in the world.
Joey: Yeah, but there’s a baby sucking on it.

The second most beautiful natural thing in the world will be visible on Saturday when Luka Modric takes his place amongst the substitutes. You’ll know it’s him because he will be surrounded by an orb of celestial light, his presence having already been heralded by a choir of angels.

Three points, goals a-plenty and a late cameo from the little Croatian genius. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but this being Spurs, some daft alternative inevitably threatens.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Everton 2-2 Spurs: Doing It The Tottenham Way

How uniquely Tottenham. Could any other team in Christendom have managed to plough on with such determination towards ignominy, when offered quite so many opportunities for glory?The Tottenham Way

I’d like to think that when a player signs for Spurs, he is sat down and given a good thorough education on the club’s history. He is instructed in the tradition for playing football in a certain style – keeping the ball on the floor, moving it around slickly. The Blanchflower quote is drummed into him – “Glory… doing things in style… etc.” If the player in question is foreign, this quote is the first English he masters. He learns the names of every member of the ’51 Championship-winning push-and-run team, and dutifully sits through hours of black-and-white footage. He worships at the altar of the Bill Nick double-winners. He is sat down and forced to watch the one-touch extravagana that was Darren Anderton’s goal away to QPR in November 1993.

The reality? Probably money and nightclubs; but after games like today’s I wonder if the first thing they are taught on driving up through Bill Nicholson Way, with rigorous attention to every conceivable detail, is how to shoot themselves in the foot in any given situation. You are now a Tottenham player, and it is therefore your duty to explore every avenue for self-destruction, before ever proceeding to victory.

And for good measure, that kamikaze message is then presumably drummed home in the huddle before every game. If the FA were to decide retrospectively that the entire Everton squad took a bung for today’s game, and awarded the three points to us, some idiot in lilywhite would probably pipe up and suggest a rematch instead.

Ruthlessness: Not Welcome at White Hart Lane

A strange old game, because while enough to reduce grown men to tears of despair, it was by no means an awful performance. For so many of our lot, the laudable and the deplorable waltzed merrily hand-in-hand. If they were making lung-busting 20 yard runs to slide in and win a tackle one minute, you could blinking well guarantee that they’d be caught dawdling in possession the next. Adroit movement to create a clear goalscoring opportunity was duly matched by an inaccurate finish. It’s Tottenham in a microcosm. When we were good we were very good; when we were bad we were horrid. Ruthlessness had a look, but was firmly ushered away, and now seeks an abode elsewhere.

Sliver Lining. Honest.

Our heroes’ penchant for the mind-bogglingly infuriating has sunk to new depths, but I honestly believe that if we take time out from throttling the nearest small animal (I’m considering storing in my back garden a small pestilential rat, or rabid dog, or Thierry Henry, just so that I can come stomping back home after days like these and give the vile creature a damn good kicking) we can appreciate a few glass-half-full conclusions.

As mentioned, this was no awful performance. For the second away game in a week, we have done a jolly good impression of a home team. The notion of sitting back from kick-off, soaking up pressure and assessing the situation was given short shrift, as we dispensed with subtlety from the first whistle, and went at it hammer and tongs. Sure, Everton had their chances, and in the first half our defence conducted a couple of stringent examinations of precisely how the term “suicidal back-pass” ought to be defined, but we made one shooting chance after another. Against Wigan they all whistled just inside the post; this time, as with Villa last week, they all seemed to arrow a foot the other side.

Kranjcar’s cup continues to runneth over with new and ingenious ways of causing panic in opposition ranks, and Lennon really does seem to have mastered the art of the inviting cross. It’s not just a one-off, a hazy estimate suggest that four out of five were whipped into pleasingly dangerous areas.

I can think of games just this season (Stoke, first half vs Sunderland) in which we’ve had plenty of possession but struggled to create a genuine goalscoring chance. There has been a lack of movement off the ball, which has clotted our creative juices (notably of Hudd) and led to too much dependency upon the cursed long-ball game. By contrast, over the course of the last few games (and I even include the Man Utd match amongst these) there has been a distinctive buzz of movement in our ranks. Yes, we need to convert rather than rue our chances; and by golly we need to beg, steal or borrow the ability to wrap up a game when leading 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes; but on a broader front there is at least the sense that we have the capacity to create sackfuls of chances.

The counter-argument is that for all this approach-play loveliness WE STILL DIDN’T BLOODY WIN DID WE? Well, granted. When the time came to dig in and fight to the death, we were found wanting. And two points from what really ought to be six, will almost certainly come back to make rude gestures at us come mid-May. Fourth is still in our own hands, but if are to make it we seem determined to do so in the most excruciating manner possible. How uniquely Tottenham.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Everton – Spurs Preview: ‘Arry’s Cunning Plan

The defeat to Man Utd prompted great ear-piercing shrieks of anguish from the faithful this week, much to the bemusement of AANP Towers, where the game had been filed philosophically under “Disappointing” rather than “Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth”.However, with our glorious leader and his trusty coiffeured lieutenant foremost amongst the critics, I have my suspicions that the slightly disproportionate backlash was all just a cunning ploy to keep the players on their toes. If this is indeed the case, I raise a glass to ‘Arry,, an evil genius in the making. Each of the players has presumably been politely asked to up their respective games or suffer a Pavluychenko-esque banishment into obscurity, which hopefully means that the wrath of N17 will now be unleashed upon Everton this afternoon. Admittedly wrath-unleashing has never exactly been a forte of Spurs teams over the years, but if ‘Arry did indeed give them a verbal lashing after the Man Utd game one would hope that they will bound out today with fire in their bellies and something approaching frenzy in their eyes. Resuming where they left off against Villa would go down nicely.

More Of The Same – But This Time With Three Points 

I suspect we would all welcome a similar performance today, but anything less than a win would be disappointing, at least in this corner of the interweb. While it is perhaps a mark of the progress we have made that failure to win away to Everton would be greeted with disappointment, it also reflects the fact that David Moyes’ side have hardly been blowing up any skirts so far this season. We for our part need to show that after the wins against Sunderland and Wigan, and draw at Villa, we can produce some consistency by continuing our unbeaten run. Like wrath, consistency has hardly been a trademark of modern Spurs sides, but Champions League qualification will require it to some extent.

Our rivals have picked up their points this weekend, which adds pressure, although this can hardly be a cause for complaint. If we are to make fourth it will have to be on merit; that our competitors will regularly collect wins is to be expected. The ball remains in our court.

Team News 

After another underwhelming performance in midweek, Robbie Keane can consider himself mighty fortunate if he starts today. White Hart Lane may reverberate each week to lusty choruses of “There’s Only One Keano”, but such refrains only seem to punctuate the grumblings amongst fans about his performances.

On a brighter note, Niko Kranjcar has been in sparkling form on the left in recent weeks, and with Lennon’s crossing from the other flank having noticeably improved there ought to be good reason to sit up and take note whenever we win possession.

I know I ought to let it go, but with each passing week I stare at the Premiership table and ruefully recall the three points dropped at home to Stoke. A win away to Everton would go some way to healing that particular wound.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Man Utd 2-0 Spurs: A Lone Voice Suggests Spurs Weren’t Actually So Bad Last Night

A slightly tardy ha’penny’s worth – the rigours of the real world having inconsiderately interfered in the business of interweb rantings – but one advantage of this delay has been an opportunity to let the dust settle on last night’s defeat to Man Utd, take a few deep breaths and survey the wreckage.While it was by no means an awe-inspiring display from our heroes, I am a little taken aback at the extent of the criticism being flung our way. I thought we started proceedings fairly well last night. Stop sniggering at the back. We shifted the ball around intelligently enough, attacked down the flanks and the centre, and created a few chances from close range (the sort of which were nestling merrily in the onion-bag against Wigan, I noted ruefully). To be honest, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were the home team in the early stages. I get the feeling that my former allies are now staring at their feet embarrassedly, and shuffling away from me, but I’ll dagnabbit I’ll plough on.

While we created decent chances from around six yards, at the other end we hardly carved apart – United had two pot-shots from distance, and we were two-nil down (although they did then create a presentable chance just before half-time). On balance of play, parity at half-time – or even a lead for our lot – would not have been history’s greatest injustice. Instead, I spent the half-time interval morphing into a three year-old throwing a tantrum about how unfair it all was (albeit a three year-old pausing for regular sips of whisky and coke), bemoaning the fact that we had gone two down before they had even got inside our penalty area.

However, no matter how determinedly I complained about the perceived injustice, two-nil it was. Without having done much to earn the right, United were able to indulge in a fairly fretless round of keep-ball in the second half, as we then admittedly laboured to produce anything particularly threatening. The reaction to the two-goal deficit was deflating, ‘tis true, but I thought it was jolly rotten luck to find ourselves in that position at all.

Alternatively, Maybe We Really Were That Bad, And I Watched Through Beer Goggles?

On occasion over the years I have imparted some of that unique AANP wit and badinage upon the young ladies of London, who will appear stunning of an evening, only for a later rendez-vous to reveal them to be wretchedly disfigured and, frankly, ugly as sin. The blame for such erroneous initial visual assessments can be squarely traced back to the clouding of judgement by alcohol; and perhaps such beer-goggles have interfered with my interpretation of yesterday’s game too, for I suspect I’m in a minority with my assessment.

Whatever – It’s Done. Some Closing Sentiments. 

‘Arry has made sure that the press have him down as angry about the defeat; AANP is disgusted at suggestions that this is just a ruse to make it appear, to fans who forked out last night, that he cares about the Carling Cup.

Young Master Bentley may have flicked his hair for the final time in Tottenham colours. One suspects that he did not quite do enough last night to convince management that he is a better option that Lennon on the right.

And we can all forget about the Carling Cup, just as we forgot about the Europa League last summer, and increase our focus on the battle for fourth spot in the Premiership. All competitions are equal, but some are more equal than others.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

All Action, No Plot © 2009. Theme Squared created by Rodrigo Ghedin.