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Tottenham Hotspur 2009-10: The All Action No Plot Awards

Something for your withdrawal symptoms if, like yours truly, you have such a Tottenham-shaped hole in your life that you now spend the first half hour of your working day actually working, rather than trawling the interweb for morsels of Spurs news. Before season 2009/10 becomes but a sepia-tinged memory sending good vibrations through your very core, it is only right and proper that the second AANP End of Season Awards are dished out.Dear Mr Levy, at Jimmy G2’s abode and at the ever-entertaining Who Framed Ruel Fox? - but please do now pour yourself a good bourbon, stick some Julie London on the gramophone and ask a kindly neighbour to perform a suitably dramatic drumroll…

The Storm From X-Men Award For The Most Pointless Superpower in Christendom 

The Play-Off-Chap-Who-Chipped-It Award For Most Mental Penalty Of The Season 

On top of all that, ill-fortune also befalls our lot when penalties are awarded our way. Defoe has had several saved, and the Hudd broke the habit of a lifetime when opting to place his shot rather than leather it, in his penalty against Bolton. However, amidst the blitz of spot-kicks this season, the one stands out is Robbie Keane’s against Everton – an effort initially saved by Tim Howard, prompting a melee more akin to playground football, as Messrs Bale and Bentley went charging in for the rebounds, and Howard produced about six separate parries before Keane eventually slammed the ruddy thing in. Truly, ‘twas all-action-no-plot, in penalty form.

The David Bentley Award For The Best Speculative Punt Against l’Arse 

The Bacary Sagna’s Hair Award For Fashion Faux Pas of The Season 

The Clegg-Cameron Award For Unlikely Partnership Of The Season 

 

The Saving Private Ryan Award For The Most Mental, 30 Minute, All-Action-No-Plot Sequence Of The Season 

While there was an astonishing all-action 30 seconds or so late on in the season, at home to Pompey (when Thudd almost snapped the woodwork in two, Crouch volleyed the rebound against the very same spot, and then tried an overhead kick from the resulting corner), the most astonishing half hour of this – and quite possibly any – season, was in the second half at home to Wigan. Jermain Defoe donned his Midas suit, and Niko Kranjcar responded to our last-minute please for “One more, we only want one more”, as a little bit of history unfolded at the Lane.The Et Tu Brute? Award For Attacking Your Own Team-Mate 

The “Sod It – Who Else Wants A Go?” Award For Most Popular Position Of The Season 

The Geoff Hurst Award For Hat-Trick of the Season 

The Teddy Sheringham Award For Moving Exceptionally Slowly For A Professional Athlete 

The Klinsmann-Dive Award For Celebration Of The Season 

 

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

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

Burnley 4-2 Spurs: The Nostalgic Return of Some Old Tottenham Favourites

Maybe it’s just as well. For all the joy and excitement, it was actually a bit disorientating to see us churn out displays of such professionalism and efficiency week in and week out. Just as in the final episode of an American soap opera, when popular former characters are wheeled back in for nostalgic cameo appearances, so in tear-jerking style Spurs made sure that in the season finale we were given a final glimpse of former weekly regulars, the Soft Underbelly and Barely Fathomable Implosion. Thus, as would happen with regularity bordering on inevitability in the not-too-distant past, we were once again treated to our heroes managing to throw away a game of which they had appeared in complete control. Two up against a relegated side? Not a problem for the Spurs teams of yore, and for old time’s sake, here it was again, in all it’s former glory. Old Folk: Wise

The old-timer next to me in the pub may have had the right idea when he suggested at half-time that, on finding out that l’Arse were 3-0 up - and third place therefore gone - the Spurs players would ease up in the second half. It would certainly explain why our lot simply melted away in the latter stages. The wizened gentleman’s analysis was also a darned sight more accurate than the AANP retort, that we would push on for the 10-goal win we needed that would improve our goal difference in the event of an Arsenal draw. Ahem.

If It Hadn’t Been For The Four Goals We Conceded… 

Around these parts we’re thoroughly chuffed for young Modders. As I watched his goal get better with every repeat viewing, I could not help thinking that he probably does that sort of thing every day in training. If there is a criticism of him it is that he does not score often enough, but by golly they are always well worth the wait.

Thoroughly perplexing to see Ledley in action and fully mobile yet again. Perhaps with the names Carragher and Sol Campbell now bizarrely being bandied around for the World Cup squad, Ledley thought it best to ease everyone’s nerves by demonstrating that he can in fact play three times in one week, and that there is therefore no need for Don Fabio to go mental and start scouting the 2002 squad list for options.

2009/10: Better Than We Had Dared Hope 

Top six, or a trophy. Or both. The bookies make us sixth favourites for the title, and sixth spot is an aim that straddles the divide between “ambitious” and “realistic”. In more private confines we may peer hopefully towards fourth spot, particularly given the sales made by Wenger this summer, but there will be tough competition for that…” 

Many, many sincere thanks to all have this season supported AANP in the writing and publication of Spurs’ Cult Heroes. This modest tome is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Burnley - Spurs Preview: A Rare Treat

Our heroes apparently enjoyed a gentle tipple after Wednesday night’s heroics, which is fair enough I suppose, but I hope they haven’t switched off completely. The main objective may have been achieved, but it would still be nice to end the season with a flourish. I think goal difference means that if l’Arse draw today, a ten-goal victory for us would be enough to guarantee third, so that should be sufficient incentive.’Arry will presumably make a change or two today. I can’t imagine Ledley will play again, and apparently Gomes’ groin is still a cause for concern. For one or two of our number this might even be a final appearance in lilywhite – so it may be worth a nostalgic farewell glance at the likes of Bentley, Pav and Jenas as they go through the paces. However, we at AANP Towers will not be too disappointed to see the current kit donned for the last time. Never did like those yellow flashes.

More promisingly, young Bale has done the intelligent thing and committed his future to the Lane, and today is another chance to see him and Lennon wreaking havoc down the flanks, a sight all too rare this season but one which will hopefully be on weekly display next time out.

Rather a shame that the season ends here, but the opportunity to watch our lot in action without my very soul being racked with anxiety from first whistle to last is a rare treat, and one I intend to savour fully.

Man City 0-1 Spurs: Gold Stars and Back-Slaps

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”So said the cake-making chap, but I make no apologies for the fact that I treat the two rather differently. Almost every Spurs-supporting day of my life has been spent meeting with disaster – cursing or stomping, or at the very least shrugging philosophically. And then for the first 80 minutes last night the priority was just to avoid throwing up, as Tottenham did what Tottenham do and the agony of it all made my stomach fold in on itself.

Today, however, it’s triumph alright, and you can spot the Spurs fans a mile off for the great big beaming grins. Here at AANP Towers it’s taken the best part of 24 hours to float gently back down to earth, a process still not quite complete.

Champions League. Where the world’s best play one-twos, and clubs are given squillions of pounds just for having a half-time break.

Champions League, baby!

Alright, there’s a qualifying whatsit in August, but let’s worry about that later (hell, let’s finish third and remove the qualifier from the equation). Lest you be waiting for some objective assessment and reasoned debate, I might as well point out that it ain’t going to happen, not round these parts. Not today. The mood at AANP Towers is still very much tip-a-bucket-of-ice-cold-water-on-your-boss-and-laugh-at-him-in-yer-underwear.

Playing For A Draw 

These are changed times I tell ye. In the last 20 years or so The Tottenham Way™ has been about salvaging ignominy from the jaws of glory, about keeping a loaded pistol close at hand in order to guarantee a means of shooting oneself in the foot at a moment’s notice. This current bunch however, is a different breed. With scant regard for the traditions forged over 20-plus years of false dawns and spectacular implosions, this lot have made a habit of delivering top-notch performances with the pressure on. Slick in possession; razor-sharp on the counter-attack; and organized throughout when not in possession – it’s so good to watch I would support us even if I didn’t support us, if you follow.

Gold Stars and Back-Slaps 

Crouch’s well-meaning but often mediocre performances have had the denizens of AANP Towers howling in frustration at various points this season, but last night he ruddy well delivered. Where previously some queried how he managed to snare Abby Clancy, now every Tottenham fan - man, woman and child - openly professes their love for the gangly maestro. With a laudable sense of timing he saved his best performance in a Spurs shirt for our most important game in years, winning nigh on everything that was lobbed up at him (credit too to Defoe, for a determined stab at that whole business of puffing up the chest, sticking out the backside and holding up the ball). There is a fair amount of air-space between Crouch’s quiff and his size fifteens, so whenever he tried to bring down the ball it typically happened in a number of installments, and via various hops and skips and jabbing of his pointy limbs. Yet if a City player tried to interrupt the procedure, he managed to produce another giant appendage, and kept doing this until the ball eventually hit the deck, and one of his chums arrived in support. All that, and the most important goal we’ve scored in years. Peter Crouch, AANP salutes thee.

Modders and Hudd are fast becoming the greatest mismatched double-act since B.A. and Murdock. Neither is exactly a born tackler, but they have managed to turn us into a team that no longer needs a central midfield tackler - which at White Hart Lane is pretty much tantamount to alchemy. They just scurry back in position whenever we lose the ball, and politely refuse entry to any young upstart trying to barge their way through to our penalty area. Once the ball is back in their grasp the fun begins, these two possessing technique and passing constructed from the very DNA of Tottenham Hotspur FC.

At the back, Kaboul’s astonishing flirtation with amazingness continues, while Gomes duly delivered the now customary three world-class saves. I am a tad worried that King and Dawson will imminently be exposed by FIFA as gods, masquerading as mere mortals kicking footballs, and we will be deducted 10 points as a result; but until then I continue to watch in awe, and offer small, symbolic sacrifices by way of thanks.

Mature, disciplined, creative, confident – it sure as hell didn’t resemble many of the Spurs teams I’ve watched over the last couple of decades, and yet now it happens every week, against the best teams in the country. Last night was supposed to be our cue to choke; instead we reached the Champions League. I still can’t quite believe it. Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.

 

Talk Champions League With Gary Mabbutt! 

Apologies for the shameless plug, but Saturday is the last chance to catch Gary Mabbutt signing copies of Spurs’ Cult Heroes. Previous sessions have indicated that the man is a true gent, and more than happy to stop and talk Tottenham with the fans. The session begins at 1pm, at Waterstones Walthamstow (26 Selborne Walk, London E17 7JR). 

 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Man City - Spurs Preview: It’s The Hope That Kills Me…

“It’s not the despair, I can take the despair; it’s the hope that kills me…”As a long-time Spurs-supporting chum put it to me yesterday, we’re not built for this sort of thing. Let-downs and heartbreaks we can deal with, but this business of every single blasted game coming loaded with significance is just too much to take. At any rate it’s almost upon us now, arguably the biggest showdown since Godzilla and King Kong went head to head. I’m not sure I can bear to watch.  

After the season we have had I would be deeply suspicious if we went into our most crucial game with a clean bill of health, so it is only appropriate that we are sweating on the fitness of Ledley and Gomes. Without wanting to tempt fate I think the boy Bassong is a pretty able deputy at centre-back; as for the boy Alnwick… well, let’s just hope that Gomes pulls through.

Central midfield, as ever, provides a selection poser. AANP would stick with Modders and Hudd, but I presume ‘Arry will accommodate Sergeant Wilson somehow, and shove Modders wide right or left. All sorts of head-hurting permutations then follow (Bale left-back? BAE right-back?) but if nothing else we at least have the enticing prospect of Palacios giving Viera a good mauling, something which seems about 15 years overdue.

Elsewhere we just need to close our eyes and pray that nobody fluffs their lines. Kaboul (or BAE) will need to be Jekyll rather than Hyde against the dastardly Craig Bellamy; lilywhites the world over will be imploring Bale and Lennon to go forth and prosper on their respective flanks; and Defoe, Pav and chums blinking well need to adjust their radars, because tonight is not the night to roll out that everywhere-but-the-net routine.

I genuinely think that watching this game might actually kill me. Deep breath. Godspeed, fellas.

Spurs 1-0 Bolton: Romance Blooms At The Lane

Why do they toy with us so? This whole business of wingers who can zip across the turf at twice the speed of light is all well and good if the counter-attacks lead to a glut of goals, but, as against Chelski a couple of weeks ago, our glorious heroes seemed determined to avoid making the game safe – anyone else get the impression that Gudjohnsen quite deliberately placed that last-minute shot at the advertising hoarding rather than the net?Thus ends the rant. Victory by whatever means was all-important, and I’d have settled for a last-minute goal from that over-zealous ball-boy if it had guaranteed the three points. That the players had to make it quite so nail-biting is presumably just part of their contracts, to do things the Tottenham Way. Useful preparation for Wednesday night too, this nerve-shredding approach.

We ticked the necessary boxes, as we have generally done at home all season. In no particular order therefore, a handful of musings from the weekend’s goings-on.

The Romantic Hit Of The Summer 

Younes Kaboul Does A Surprisingly Good Cafu Impression

Younes Kaboul certainly looked like a man who has been eating his greens this week. Previously a peculiarly-eyebrowed square peg in a right-back-shaped hole, he was one of the best players on the pitch on Saturday. While there is something about him that will always suggest God did not intend him as a natural right-back, he took every opportunity to haring up the flank with all the speed and power of a runaway train. And to pretty good effect too. His distribution is hardly Beckham-esque but he delivered a couple of well-judged cut-backs and one inviting cross atop the mullet of Pav, whilst also applying himself with good wholesome gusto in defence. Top marks, sir. (The slightly worrying question of how he will fare against Craig Bellamy on Wednesday can be shelved for another 24 hours.)

Ledley: Pushing The Boundaries of Language

Someone invent some more superlatives, because Ledley is exhausting the current supply. I’d take him to the World Cup, elect him Prime Minister and have him open the batting for England this summer. Aside from the usual (pace, calmness, use of the ball) his reading of the game, to intercept passes before I even had time to utter panicked profanities, was particularly eye-catching. What a boost if we could patch him up again for Wednesday.

So there endeth a jolly impressive season of home games. Bar a couple of struggles against our more negative guests, and a no-show against last season’s champions, we Lane-goers have been rather spoiled – wins against the Champions League-chasers, goal-fests against rubbish teams, and all served up on a bed of good old-fashioned champagne football. Time to take the show on the road. Fingers crossed, prayers said and small animals sacrificed for Wednesday.

Final Chance to Catch Gary Mabbutt Signing Spurs’ Cult Heroes – THIS SATURDAY 

No game this Saturday – so a tidy little opportunity to pop into Walthamstow Waterstones for the final signing session by

Gary Mabbutt of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes - Waterstones Walthamstow - Saturday 8 May, 1pm 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs - Bolton Preview: No Excuses

Tempus doesn’t half fugit when things are going swimmingly. It barely seem five minutes ago that we pitched up to the Lane for the first time this season, to offer Steven Gerrard some legal advice (“Self-defence, you’re having a laugh”) and salute BAE’s frankly mental long-range effort. Eight months on and who would have predicted that the top four we would be ours to throw away? Harking back through the yellowed pages of AANP’s archives I note that top-six was the target around these parts last August. Not that that will soften the blow should we mess things up from here…Seeing off Bolton will hardly be a straightforward task – Kevin Davies in particular has taken rather a liking to our onion bag – but there are no excuses. Three points today (and next Sunday) are essential.

No Ledley. Not Today

If Ledley goes trotting onto the pitch at 2.55 I think I’ll personally march out there and slap a chloroformed handkerchief across his face just to prevent his participation. I fancy us to beat Bolton with Bassong and Daws bringing up the rear; vastly more important that Ledley’s knees are tickety-boo ahead of the clash with Tevez, Adebayor et al on Wednesday. The only sighting of Ledley ought to be encased from head to toe in a cocoon of cotton wool, as the players amble around for the end-of-season lap of honour at full-time.

A similar argument might also be made in favour of restricting Aaron Lennon to a cameo, with one eye on Wednesday night. Whether or not he starts, it seems likely that at some point at least we will be treated to the sight of Bale on one flank and Lennon on t’other, which would serve as a delightful end of season gift.

Elsewhere on the Pitch

It’s been debated ad infinitum, but to be honest the central midfield combo ought not to be as critical an issue today as against Man Utd. Impose our game upon the other lot and it won’t matter whether or not Sergeant Wilson is patrolling the centre-circle, or Modders starting out left. (Of course, should the players themselves adopt an attitude of complacency similar to that at AANP Towers our top four dream could be in tatters come the final whistle.)

Corluka is still out, so Kaboul/BAE/Walker will be tasked with doing the honourable thing on the right. (AANP would opt for Kaboul, to lend a hand in case of any aerial assault from our guests today). Bentley was a little isolated on the right wing last week, so a slightly more generous attitude from today’s chosen right-back would go down well.

Win-draw-win will do the trick - but when did our lot ever do things the straightforward way?

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses at Waterstones Walthamstow - Saturday 8 May, 1pm 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

 

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

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