By nature we are fairly optimistic, cheery sorts here at AANP Towers, but I assure ye that nothing fills ours hearts with pessimistic gloom quite like the prospect of a day out at Old Trafford. By hook, crook or absurd refereeing we always lose at that blasted place, and frankly just the thought of it puts me in a mood sufficiently foul to aim a sharp kick at passing cats and old women. This sentiment is hardly lightened by the thought of Sir Alex Ferguson casting his beady eyes over our prized assets, Messrs Bale and VDV, with a view to a spot of Christmas shopping. As ever pre kick-off there exists at least a glimmer of hope, and come kick-off I suspect I will truly believe; but at the moment I fancy that when the lucky monkey does eventually hammer out Hamlet on his keyboard, Spurs will still be waiting for an Old Trafford victory.
It appears that there are various midfield permutations over which our glorious leader can twitch tonight. Ankle mischief apparently rules out the Hudd, and it is a measure of his progress that his absence tomorrow is being dolefully lamented around these parts.
Eyebrow-arching news from the left wing, with ‘Arry reportedly toying with the notion of resting the boy Bale. Although the impending visit of Inter looms large, Man Utd away nevertheless seems a slightly peculiar choice of fixture on which to grant dispense with the services of our resident pointy-looking superhuman. As such I suspect our glorious leader may have been bluffing when he trotted out this line in the pre-match press conference, the rascal.
Those of a particularly civilised bent ought probably to cover their ears if our gangly-limbed hero is unleashed in attack, for poor old Peter Crouch has been subjected to some pretty fearsome vitriol over the last seven days, following his less than entirely lethal showing in attack last week. Alas for the rack-stretched blighter, the winner against Man City and hat-trick against Young Boys currently seem a lifetime ago, for he has now become the principal target of our ire.
While it must not be overlooked that he continues to provide fodder for VDV in his own awkward way, there was unfortunately much to chastise in his performance last week. Not for the first time his heading was so lacking in power and direction as to suggest that he simply closes his eyes and prays as the ball approaches; while closer to ground level his fiercest shots resembled little more than overhit back-passes. We are hardly drowning in attacking striking options, but opportunity may knock for Pav.
For all my finely-tuned pessimism ahead of this one I can at least appreciate that we are actually as well-placed now as we have ever been during our seemingly infinite Old Trafford barren patch. Frankly, this is as strong a Tottenham team as there has been for years, and I am quite happy to predict that we will triumph over Inter on Wednesday. Moreover, while rumours of United’s demise have been exaggerated in various quarters, they are not quite as formidable as in days of yore. A point is therefore quite feasible, but all those fans of chapter 20 (verses 24 to 29) of St John’s gospel can eat their hearts out over here, for until I can put my finger on the TV screen that confirms we have won at Old Trafford I will dolefully refuse to believe it possible.