Never mind the theory that Peter Crouch Can Do Anything – the 2010 product is Gareth Bale. When he sets off on a gallop down the left the world is his oyster. He has within his armoury the capacity to outpace just about any opponent slower than Usain Bolt; play an intelligent, 10-yard diagonal ball infield; or whip in a peach of a cross, as demonstrated for the opener yesterday. Add to that his Delap-style long throws, and a mean free-kick, and Gareth Bale really can do anything. (Although I suppose his defending occasionally remains fallible). At various points yesterday the humble Pompey folk were ganging up on him in their threes, and still struggling to stop him, as he turned in yet another Man of the Match performance. The concern here at AANP Towers is that Man Utd come sniffing in the summer.As noted recently on the top-notch Spurs Show podcast, Bale’s searing pace comes from his bizarrely long stride. Unlike, say Aaron Lennon, whose little legs move so fast they morph into a Scooby-Doo style blur of movement when he sets off, Bale seems to amble along at a reasonable yet unspectacular pace, and despite this goes motoring past every opposing full-back in the British isles, because he covers so much ground in each stride. Which is marvellous.
Entertainingly, a side-effect of Bale’s renaissance has been BAE’s decision to add a spot of attacking urgency to his game as left-back. As a result he can now be spotted pelting forward towards the opposition by-line to deliver a low cross or two of his own, having previously insisted on slamming on the brakes whenever he approached the final third.
Game Of Two Halves
The second half was so subdued as to arouse suspicion. My Spurs-supporting chum Ian is rarely short of a conspiracy theory, and spent our post-match pint peddling the theory that ‘Arry had ordered the players not to score any more because he retained a soft spot for his former club. Tongue may have been firmly in cheek at that juncture, but here at AANP Towers we do wonder whether the drill was to avoid any over-exertion and unnecessary injuries in the second half. If this were indeed the case it is rather a pity, for had we gone at it hammer and tongs in the second period we really could have done a Wigan. Evidently Chelski were not in a forgiving mood at Villa yesterday, racking up seven, and something similar ought not to have been beyond us.
The All-Action Minute
However, if the second half was a little sedate, ample compensation was offered in the first half by possibly the most exhilarating, all-action minute of football I have ever witnessed at the Lane, around the half-hour mark. Hudd almost snapped the woodwork in half; before we had time to catch our breath Crouchy achieved the extraordinary feat of looking elegant as he nailed the exact same spot on the frame of the goal; and from the resulting corner the beanpole’s Van Basten impressions continued with an overhead kick unfortunately straight at David James. Not since Sheringham and Solsjkaer won the Champions League in 1999 has one minute of football been observed with quite such breathless excitement here at AANP Towers.
A Few Words On The Boy Walker
90 minutes is hardly enough time to make or break a career, but young Kyle Walker did a decent job on debut. His was the vital contribution to our second goal, and although sometimes a little naïve going forward his general willingness and ability to go haring down the right gave Bentley the room to whip in a few delicious crosses. Walker will have sterner defensive tests, but he applied himself with gusto and aggression as appropriate. An encouraging start.
In the final analysis it was pretty straightforward fare, as expected. There were a couple of first half concerns, as Pompey sliced us open on one occasion, and we also had Gomes to thank for one vital save that was worth a goal. On balance of play however, we were well worth the three points. There was a gloomy inevitability about another of our number hobbling off, but fingers are crossed that Dawson’s removal was precautionary. Seven games to go, and we remain well-placed.
All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players featured in 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, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.