Well the prophets of doom can stick that in their pipes and smoke it. Admittedly it was not exactly vintage, one-touch, rapier-like Tottenham, but then that was understandable enough – in defence of our heroes, I think if I had simply to catch a bus for £20 million I might be a little more cautious than normal. Still, while it may have lacked panache in places the performance oozed professionalism, efficiency and good old-fashioned, red-blooded desire from the off. Only one Spurs team in history has competed in Europe’s elite club competition before this season, so our heroes deserve all the accolades heaped upon them, both for last season’s efforts and the thorough negotiation of last night’s potential banana-skin.
There are a handful of phrases by which we live here at AANP Towers. You know the sort, essential pearls of wisdom fashioned by time itself. “Women – can’t live with them, can’t kill them,” and suchlike, but another such bon mot is “By jiminy, thank goodness for that early goal, ought to steady the nerves, what? (Let’s hope we don’t now sit back and invite trouble)”. And lo and behold, when Bale lobbed one in, Crouch stooped, we had ourselves the early goal and all was right with the world. I’ll never know, but I often stroke the whiskers in contemplation of what it would be like to be a good citizen of Tottenham, idly minding his own fare and wandering along the High Road at the exact moment that a goal of such magnitude is scored, and it sounds for all intents and purposes like the sky is collapsing in on itself. The perfect start, at which instant White Hart Lane became so excited it pretty much went ‘bang’ in a puff of smoke.
Life Minus Modders
Back on the green stuff (au naturale, rather than the dastardly tenth-generation macrofibres, or whatever the deuces they used out in the Wankdorf Stadium) we controlled the game in a very careful fashion. To his credit, from first whistle to last Sergeant Wilson bore his fangs like an illegally-bred fighting mutt, and this midfield bite was welcome, our heroes following his lead and pressing the Young Boys (if you pardon the phrase) high up the pitch. However, the deficiency of a midfield bereft of Modders was evident. Hudd’s passing, long and short, is joyous to behold, but neither he nor Palacios are the type to run with the ball from the centre. As a result there was a slight dearth of central creativity, and several symptoms of Crouch-itis in the team, as a number of long-balls were launched up to the gangly one (although he did a topping job of shielding the thing like a new-born babe while it was conveyed from heavens to turf), while the heart always thumps upwards against the mouth around these parts when we play those square balls across that 10-yard space just in front of our back-four. This, however, is somewhat hypercritical, for in truth, in the game of their lives our heroes were barely threatened.
Young Boys for their part adopted some curious tactics – leaving the 6’ 7” striker unmarked at corners, time-wasting when trailing 2-0, etc. I was going to commend their right-back for doing a generally sound job on Bale, in not allowing the handsome young Welshman unrestricted access throughout to the yawning wide expanses of greenery in that particular corner of the Lane – until it dawned on me that His Royal Baleness actually provided the assists for all four goals, and got the right-back sent off. And that on what, for Bale, was a relatively quiet day. For all their attacking prowess last week, Young Boys, even when 3-0 up, looked porous at the back last week, and having excelled themselves on home turf they were no match for us this time. Pot Three awaits.
For a start, I lost my delightful, gleaming Tottenham Hotspur flag within about 30 seconds of kick-off, trampled into the dirt several rows in front of me. Of arguably equal importance on such a momentous night, Gomes hobbled off halfway through. Some need to be mown down by an Uzi before signalling for treatment; our loveable net-minder is not of that near-invincible breed. Should a butterfly sneeze in his direction Gomes signals to the bench for Florence Nightingale and 24-hour care, so when he winced and limped his way to the dressing-room at half-time I raised an eyebrow in scepticism. Time shall tell I guess, but back in the day I suspect that Gomes had a leading – and non-lupine – role in his school production of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.
Also disappointed in the boy Defoe. Bluntly, he cheated. Admittedly he had the good grace to look long, hard and incredulously at each of the numerous officials before celebrating, but I don’t like to see Spurs players deliberately breaking the rules to gain an advantage. Mind you, his curious natterings about “destiny” beforehand now seem to make a bit more sense.
However, irrespective of the officials’ call, his finish was classic Defoe. If he does require surgery, it will do him the world of good to have such a clinical finish under his belt while he twiddles his thumbs and heals.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
After last week Young Boys evidently thought that BAE was the susceptible heel within our mighty Achilles, but the headbanded one brought his A-game and did not allow them a sniff. Dawson also banished the memories of last week with an imperious display, while Hudd purred his way through the game.
Que Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be Will Be
And so to the future. ‘Arry has hinted that he has no intention of dipping into his humungous new transfer kitty, but I have my fingers firmly crossed that this is fabrication of the highest order. Now that our participation is guaranteed we are running a Mission Impossible-esque race against the clock before the transfer window is closed, bolted and has curtains pulled across it for good measure. With Gallas on board I’m not sure a centre-back is still a priority, but a top-notch striker, capable of leading the line in vacuo would be mighty handy.
The draw for the much-vaunted Group Stages also awaits, and for some reason our non-existent Champions League pedigree lands us in the third of four pots. So be it. Some are hoping to avoid the big guns and thereby ease our passage to the next phase, but here at AANP Towers we are fervently beseeching the clueless UEFA suits to hand us the cream of Europe so that we can welcome to the Lane the finest kickers of a pig’s bladder currently roving the planet. Any one or two from Barca, Milan, Inter or Real would be just dandy. Because that is the company we can now keep.