Fourth place or the FA Cup? AANP suspects we’ll manage one or t’other, but the chaps scuttling around the turf each week seem to have the right idea, by prioritising victory one 90 minutes at a time, irrespective of the competition.Merrily we can gloss over it now, but by golly in the first half we were outplayed. Various boxes were left worryingly unticked in central midfield, where Modders lacked the muscle and Sergeant Wilson the passing range to pull the strings. Added to this Benny was having a distinctly average time of things at left-back. The solution seemed to be shunting Bale back to left-back, Modders to left midfield and giving Palacios some fresh company in centre-mid – but we at AANP Towers did not expect to see any such move until the hour-mark at the earliest. Oh we of little faith.
Twelve months ago I regularly chided ‘Arry for his unwillingness to make substitutions, but the double-whammy at half-time was spot-on. It got even better ten minutes later, when Corluka went down like a fallen oak, and ‘Arry took the quite brilliant step of replacing a full-back with a third attacker. Genius. Admittedly there were few other options on the bench, but a safety-first substitution would have been unsurprising. Instead, the romantic in ‘Arry came to the fore, and for a glorious half hour we had seven attacking types scuttling around in lilywhite. They didn’t disappoint either, playing some absolutely gorgeous one-touch football at the start of the second half.
The goals became progressively better. The first may have had a touch of fortune about it, although Bentley deserves credit for whipping in a ball so menacing it ought to have been illegal; but the second was both well-constructed and well-finished; and the third was absolute magic. It was a goal fashioned by Gudjohnsen, Hudd, Modders and Crouch, but created in the finest tradition of Tottenham Hotspur FC, the stuff of which Hoddle, Gascoigne and Ardiles would have been proud.
That 25-minute blitz after half-time really left us with little option but to applaud. One-touch football ordained from on high, and Fulham simply couldn’t live with it – indeed few teams would have fared better. Classic Tottenham.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
We may not have too many truly world-class players in our ranks, but our squad depth is certainly impressive, and good enough for the twin challenges in hand. Bringing on players of the ilk of Hudd, Bentley and Pav is a luxury few other teams can enjoy.
Is Bale better at left-back or left-midfield? He’s ruddy marvellous in both positions, but there is much to be said from him starting at full-back and timing his run from deep, effectively becoming a fifth midfielder. Nor does there appear to be any need to worry about wearing the boy out, with his constant charges up and down the length of the pitch, as he boasts energy levels that would leave the Duracell bunny red-faced. One day, somebody somewhere is going to suggest that he is using naughty substances – perhaps on the comments section of these very pages…
Our rivals for fourth obligingly tossed away points; AANP become an uncle again; all was right with the world. Two bad results against Pompey and, overcome by fickleness, we’ll probably start calling for ‘Arry’s head again, but for now let’s just bask in the fact that Spurs are on their way to Wembley.
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.