The vicissitudes of life mean that AANP is no longer able to watch 3pm games most Saturdays (although, oddly enough, this has barely prevented me from watching our lot in recent years). It does mean, however, that I couldn’t rattle off anything about yesterday’s game beyond the five-or-so minutes offered up by Match of the Day.
1. Forster’s Saves
But as it happens, a heck of a lot of Spurs-supporting angst can still be shoved into five-or-so minutes, if you select the right bits. And the bits that caught the AANP eye were both the goal conceded and also another Wolves effort earlier in the piece (circa minute 55, apparently). The common denominator in these two were that both featured resident goalkeeping giant F. Forster Esq. beating away goalbound efforts.
So far so successful, one might think, and indeed, in a sense, the most basic requirements of the role had been met. After all, there have been a few occasions this season alone on which I’ve subjected Monsieur Lloris to a spot of choice Anglo-Saxon for his failure to master such essentials. But yesterday, Forster waved a meaty paw first at a close-range header from Jiminez, and then at a longer-range hit-and-hope sort of job from the same chap, and in both cases achieved the basics.
But mark the smallprint. The footnotes. In each instance, while Team Forster were still high-fiving one another on a job well done by their man, a troubling spin-off was in immediate development. For in both cases, Forster had made the pretty short-sighted call to bat the dashed thing straight back into the heart of what might be called ‘Hostile Territory’.
The close-range header he patted in a neat parabola that had its terminus around the penalty spot, or would have done Porro not made the executive decision to smash the ball away first and take questions later. And while goalkeeping is one of those subjects about which, as soon as any given expert starts prattling on, the old mind downs tools and sets off on a wander, I nevertheless recall that one of the fundamentals of the art is to make sure that in making a save the ball ends up comfortably out of focus, preferably nearer the aisles.
(Having said that, the ill-informed AANP take on such things is to yearn for the days when the goalkeeper would simply catch a shot – seemingly a forgotten art now. But such robust situation management would no doubt have current coaches going weak at the knees in horror. The current vogue is to give the ball a friendly pat back into play, and AANP’s goalkeeping masterclass be damned.)
So as mentioned, the Jiminez header was bobbed gently up towards the penalty spot, which seemed a mightily risky approach to me. And in fact, given that Forster had had to transfer his frame horizontally off to the right in making the save in the first place, it also seemed to me that it would have been a dashed sight easier to have sent the ball off even further to the right, rather than scooping it back into the centre of the stage. Physics, and all that, what?
Anyway, the gods smiled on him and the danger was duly averted, but no such luck half an hour later when Jiminez had a pop from outside the area. Again, Forster went a-tumbling to his right, and manoeuvred a significant proportion of his frame between ball and goal; but again, the curious young cove somehow manged to bat the thing straight back into trouble, in the centre of the penalty area. The finish from Traore was surprisingly good, but that seems beside the point: Forster really should have ensured that the ball would head off into a completely different part of the mainland.
And watching the beastly sequence replayed from all angles, it all reminded me of a moment against Chelsea last weekend, when Sterling had a pop from the edge of the area, and again Forster produced a big thick tick in the box marked “Save The Thing First and Foremost”, but then spilled the ball into prime goal-poaching territory, and was bailed out by a closely-situated chum.
From memory the Chelsea episode involved the ball bobbling off his chest and various assorted limbs; but for both of yesterday’s he had rather more control of the thing, getting a solid hand to the header and a delivering a two-fisted punch to the second shot. As such, in each instance the blighter really ought to given more thought to the entire story arc.
So much for Forster. Those five-or-so minutes of highlights revealed precious little else. It was, I suppose, nice to see Harry Kane pass on the opportunity to thump another free-kick straight into the wall, instead allowing Pedro Porro to demonstrate a pretty handy additional string to his bow (Kane’s generosity in this matter, my spies inform me, extended only so far, and the following free-kick he duly claimed, and did his usual thump-and-wall job).
But as for the rest, it’s a mystery to me – and a one-nil defeat away to Wolves is, in truth, one of those into which I would rather not delve too deeply. As mentioned after the Sheff Utd loss, the stage now seems set for Dr Jekyll to emerge midweek vs Milan.