AANP’s bosom swells with pride in announcing that the youngest nephew this week began school this week, poor blighter, and similar feelings of satisfaction and reminiscence no doubt occurred to ‘Arry as he sent forth the various assorted whelps and whippersnappers still too young to watch Goodfellas, to do us proud on the corner of some foreign field last night.Encouragingly, to a boy they all seemed happy to play the Tottenham way, possessing an instinct to pick a 10-yard pass at any given time, rather than walloping the ball skywards at the first sniff of trouble. The kids may have lacked a little thrust in the final third, but they can hardly be chastised for this, given that the same affliction has weighed so heavily upon the various feted international strikers – and Peter Crouch – employed over the last 18 months. Livermore seemed pretty determined to demonstrate that he can make it in the big bad world of central midfield without a grown-up holding his hand; the new chap Falque showed the occasional moment of eyebrow-raising, nod-inducing flair; while it is too early to tell whether Harry Kane will make it as a top-level pro at the quite disgusting age of just 17, but whatever career the young blighter embarks upon I suggest that he’ll make a darned good fist of it, for in the field of blistering self-confidence he was mightily well-stocked.
Bar the last few nervy minutes our kids held their own, and were certainly unlucky not to win a penalty, although history suggests we’d have contrived to miss it anyway. If you excuse me a moment of optimistic, misty-eyed speculation, the fact that just about our third choice XI (nine injured, plus another ten rested) can hold PAOK to a draw, in front of what sounded like the blood-thirsty mob from Gladiator, then we ought to go on and win this whole ruddy nuisance of a competition. With one or two additions our kids could probably see us through the group stages, and thereafter, with the cream of Europe otherwise engaged, I hazard that Bale, Modders and VDV would pulverise all-comers at a canter; but whether it will be worth fielding the big guns in the latter stages, as the Top Four race narrows to its conclusion, is presumably a different kettle of fish.
(As a valedictory note, I leave you with the heart-warming sentiments of PAOK boss Laszlo Boloni: “It was a nice game”. Bless.)