All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Fulham – Spurs Preview: What ‘Arry’s Backroom Staff Is Missing

‘Arry might already have the world’s largest backroom staff, but at the moment the most useful person to have snuggled up between Joe Jordan Kevin Bond might be Florence Nightingale. Instead, we appear to have hired Darren Anderton’s personal physician. Lennon, Bentley, Hudd and even the Lord of all things Sideways and Backwards are each out injured, meaning it will be the bare bones in lilywhite across the midfield today.

Our Makeshift Midfield – Actually Quite Tasty

However, as bare bones go, a midfield of Bale-Palacios-Modric-Kranjcar is still pretty blinking impressive. BAE should move seamlessly back into the team at left-back, meaning Gareth Bale will be shunted forward to left midfield. The handsome young Welshman is certainly capable of playing the more attacking role, but part of the reason for his success as attacking full-back has been that the midfielder ahead of him has cut inside giving him a passage down which to overlap from deep. It will be a slightly different role today, but he still seems a good bet to cause mischief.

Modders will therefore presumably take the central midfield berth, with Sergeant Wilson playing the role of his big burly minder, which would leave Kranjcar, fresh from wonder-goal exploits with Croatia, as right winger. It all sounds quite marvellous actually – pace, trickery and silky-smooth passing all served up on a bed of Honduran snarl – but the crucially sobering proviso is that one more injury and we’re quite possibly doomed.

Not just tomorrow either – the return dates for Messrs Hudd, Bentley, Lennon et al are several weeks off, so if our top-four Premiership push is not also to be derailed the four who start across the midfield today will need to be carefully encased in cotton wool and that bubble-wrap stuff the minute the final whistle sounds. And if that sounds dramatic have a perusal of our subs’ bench this afternoon, likely to feature the likes of Dervite, Rose, Livermore and Townsend. All enthusiastic young bucks I’m sure, but probably not the chaps upon whom we want to pin our top-four hopes.

Peter Crouch, International Superstar

In typically restrained fashion various tabloids have been heralding Crouch as the saviour of England’s World Cup campaign. All well and good but his niche at the Lane is as Plan B. Natterings in certain quarters yesterday suggested that Defoe might have tweaked something in the line of international duty, but only such an injury ought to split up the Defoe-Pav partnership. Much more of the Russian’s net-bulging antics and plans might have to be made to iron his 12 letters across the back of next season’s lilywhite shirt. For the time-being however he is one of the in-form strikers in the country, and a good bet for a goal at some point today. It might not be the world’s most complete striking partnership, but Defoe and Pav are two of the best goalscorers around at the moment.

Fulham, particularly on their own patch, are a tough bunch of nuts to crack, but even with injuries we ought to be able to grab at least a draw from this (and I certainly fancy our chances in a replay against this lot at the Lane).

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now in shopsand Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Enfield, today, from 12 – 2pm. If you prefer the comfort of your computer-box, the humble tome can also be purchased at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play

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.

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

EXCLUSIVE – Preview of New Book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes”

What ho. If I’ve been doing this right seasoned visitors to AANP Towers should know that as of this Saturday the book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes” becomes available to buy in shops. To mark the occasion and whet your appetite, I have posted a world exclusive no less – below, for your visual delectation, is the Introduction to Spurs’ Cult Heroes.

Before you dig in, just a few public notices: Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Enfield, this Saturday (6th March), from 12 – 2pm. If you prefer the comfort of your computer-box, the humble tome can also be purveyed at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Introduction

“We Tottenham folk have been spoilt. Admittedly it does not always seem that way, as we look on aghast at our heroes so regularly ensuring that ignominy is snatched from the jaws of glory; or when that rarest of beasts – a settled management structure – is slaughtered, seemingly on a whim, and we have to start again from scratch. However, when dipping nib into ink in order to write Spurs’ Cult Heroes – and even when simply compiling the list of 20 players to be featured – I realised that we have, other the years, have boasted riches of which other sets of fans can only dream. With good reason does Tottenham Hotspur have a tradition for glory glory football, for when one considers the array of talent that has purred around the White Hart Lane turf, it would have been plain lunacy to have adopted any other approach than that of devilish, breath-taking entertainment.

So how to select from the rich band of swashbucklers, goalscorers and servants so loyal that directly beneath the cockerel on their shirt one suspects they also had that same cockerel tattooed on their chest?

It was a glorious conundrum – so, inevitably, I initially went down the Ossie Ardiles route, and tried to include the whole ruddy lot, every player who has ever had the regulars at the Lane gawping in awe-struck wonder. Just as Ossie discovered however, it quickly became evident that this Tottingham line-up just would not accommodate quite so many big names. In a moment of realisation that has no doubt struck countless Spurs managers over the years, I reluctantly concluded that for all the wonderful talent available, some semblance of order would be necessary in order to set the wheels in motion.

For a start, all those featured had to rank amongst the very best White Hart Lane has seen; no room for those players whose glaring inadequacies we gloss over just because we love them and they love us. A stringent criterion perhaps, but after over 125 years of trophies, goals, loyalty and downright mind-boggling flair, it seemed a legitimate parameter. (As a crucial addendum, such greatness must have been achieved in a Spurs shirt, rather than, say, from the halfway line whilst adorned in the colours of a Spanish outfit – even if the victims were that ‘orrible lot from down the road).

Nor was this just to be a list of the 20 best players – they also had to be the sort who, to this day, will make the most foul-mouthed South Stand die-hards suddenly go misty-eyed, and profess their undying love. Popularity counted, a criterion which ought to answer any queries from the Campbell and Berbatov households.

A difficult balancing act? Those of a certain vintage have argued that the task straightforwardly involves selecting the entire Double-winning team of 1961, and throwing in Greaves, Hoddle and Gazza. One appreciates the sentiment, but one vital requirement of the Cult Heroes collection was to capture the long tradition and very essence of the club. Tottenham Hotspur were formed in 1882; won the FA Cup in 1901; became the first English side to win the Double in 1961; the first British side to win a European trophy, two years later; and won the centenary FA Cup Final in 1981. In the words of the White Hart Lane faithful every matchday:

”And if you know your history, it’s enough to make your heart go woo-ooo-oooah…”

An effort has therefore been made to convey this glorious, if allegedly ineffable, history of the club, those elements which make Spurs one of the proudest and most famous teams in the country. I pre-emptively hold up my hands and offer a mea culpa straight away, for the absences of any players from the 1921 FA Cup-winning side (Jimmy Dimmock and Arthur Grimsdell having been popularly supported). Similarly, star names from our first ever League Title-winning team of 1951 (Ted Ditchburn, captain Eddie Baily and Len “The Duke” Duquemin sprang to many minds) are glaring omissions. Naturally, in gauging popular opinion, much of the focus fell upon those from the latter half of the twentieth century, and the content of Spurs’ Cult Heroes reflects this. However, the chapter on Sandy Brown, whose extraordinary goalscoring feats helped bring the FA Cup to White Hart Lane in 1901, is aimed at conveying the sense of the club in its nascent years, as well as paying tribute to an individual Cult Hero. Likewise, the late, great Bill Nicholson, whose association with the club spanned over 60 years, was a member of the 1951 League Championship winners, and deference is duly shown to this team in the relevant chapter.

Of those not included in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, few players had their credentials promoted quite as vigorously as John White. An attacking midfielder, White was crucial in driving Spurs to the Double in 1961 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, but was tragically killed on 21 July 1964, when struck by lightning whilst sheltering under a tree at a golf course. That he is not included amongst the final 20 is due primarily to the quality and popularity of so many of his peers. The list already includes Blanchflower and Mackay, as well as Cliff Jones and the manager of that glorious team, Bill Nicholson, not to mention Jimmy Greaves, signed in the winter of 1961. While White’s case for inclusion was strong, it was felt that another member of the team from that era would skew the balance of the final list; but such an opinion is by no means definitive.

Others conspicuous by their absence include Lineker, Sheringham, Crooks and Archibald, while wide-eyed rants of fury were also directed this way for the omissions of Cameron, Ditchburn, Ramsey, Smith, England, Coates, Peters, Neighbour, Conn, Thorstvedt and Freund, to name but a handful. The compilation of the final list of 20 was rather unscientific at times, but a huge number of opinions were sought and reminiscences collected.

Disagreements about the personnel may be inevitable, but it is to be hoped that Spurs’ Cult Heroes does at least capture much of that tradition of the club – not just the silverware, but all those other factors unique to Spurs. Football played “the Tottenham way”. Glorious European nights at the Lane. Gleaming white shirts. Years ending in “1”. Magic Wembley moments. Audere est Facere. Questionable musical offerings. Big-name signings. Exotic foreign arrivals. Flair players; club servants; the occasional hardmen; and goalscorers so prolific you almost wanted to offer a consoling pat on the shoulder of the hapless goalkeeper who would soon be left wondering what had hit him.

Tottenham Hotspur’s history is packed with heroes. If the White Hart Lane turf could speak – well, I would like to think it would pretty much read from these pages.”

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.

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

Spurs 2-1 Everton: The Nerve-Shredding Final Ten Minutes

 

AANP did a Landon Donovan on Sunday and missed the entire ruddy thing altogether. If you want a blow-by-blow, warts-and-all account of Sunday’s magnificence you may be disappointed, as I was keeping tabs on big Martin Jol (blessed be his name) – a not entirely salubrious stag weekend culminating in a trip to the Amsterdam ArenA on Sunday lunchtime, to watch Ajax vs Utrecht (4-0, lest ye be wondering).

I did manage to catch the last ten minutes or so of the win over Everton, and mighty nerve-shredding stuff it looked too. However, for the finer points of the Pav-Defoe partnership; the broader contribution of Pav; the hygiene levels at Spurs’ training ground; and why Bentley was omitted altogether (I’m presuming injury/illness?) I can do no better than shrug. The general gist, as I understand, seems to be one of the Sven Goran Eriksson performances – first half good, second half not so good.

Some Plus-Points, From A Distant Vantage-Point

Without having seen the game there seem to be a handful of positives to take home and nurture lovingly. From this rather detached perspective a win over Everton is splendid news. After the various stumbles of January and February, victory against one of the in-form teams in the division is hugely welcome, and, I must confess, something of a surprise to this observer.

The goal-shy attitude of Jan/Feb has seemingly been addressed, and what had threatened to develop into something of a stigma can now be ignored for a few weeks. Jolly good timing from Pav, whose renaissance is virtually worth a new and rather expensive signing.

An impressive result without either King or Lennon is also cheering news. With Lennon one out for at least six further weeks it looks like we’ll have to make the Champions League without him – a tall order, but wins (and goals) in his absence are encouraging, for there have certainly been times when we seem to lack a little shaven-eyebrowed sparkle to unlock defences.

Ten Games Left

So just when it looked like our lot were wobbling wildly off the top-four road they’ve only gone and strung together back-to-back wins. Outrage and pessimism come so naturally to us Spurs fans that many of us had been writing off our Champions League chances with quite some gusto a couple of weeks back; but such sentiments have hastily had to be shelved, as we somehow find ourselves back in fourth. (Fret not, oh ye mongers of doom – it seems a pretty safe bet that there will be plenty more chances over the next ten games.)

Such have been the peculiarities of this season that a four/five-match winning streak would almost certainly create some daylight between us and one or two of the challengers for fourth – and we now have a chance to do exactly that with Blackburn, Stoke and Pompey up-coming in the League (although this would be far too straightforward, so I am instead bracing myself for another maddening spree of dropped points against that lot. Followed by wins at home to Chelski and l’Arse.)

There may be games in hand to factor in, but with ten matches left we are in fourth place – and which of us would not have taken that last August?

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 Marchwith Gary Mabbutt signing copies that day in the Enfield Waterstones – but is available to pre-order now from Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, 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 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

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