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Spurs’ Transfer Window: 5 Tottenham Talking Points

1. Farewell Danny Rose

When history looks back on the Tottenham career of D. Rose Esq. it is difficult to know quite what sort of conclusions will be drawn. One of the more curious eggs, for sure, he has something of the Russian doll about him, in that just when you think you have him sussed he pops open to reveal another layer, which requires fresh examination – and can be a tad unnerving if you’re not expecting it.

On the pitch, the whole tempestuous affair began in fairly rollicking style, with that thunderbolt volley against the Woolwich, numerous moons ago. Quite the entrance, but finer hours were to come, notably a few years ago when he and Kyle Walker on the opposite flank established themselves as the galloping full-backs against which all other galloping full-backs would be compared.

In common with Master Walker, Rose hit upon the belting notion that every time he took to the pitch he would contest his personal duels as if his life depended upon winning them. One could never be too sure about his commitment to the club – quite the contrary in fact, as he often emitted the distinctive whiff of a chap who didn’t care too many jots for London and its assorted entertainments – but it mattered little.

Once on the pitch he would skulk around with the air of one pretty vexed with all going on around him, staring daggers at all who dared to cross him and hurtling around the place as if he had made a pact with some unseen entity either to kick little lumps out of others or have little lumps kicked out of himself. And it just happened that he wore the lilywhite while all this took place.

His commitment to the challenge, married to sufficient bucketloads of energy that handily enabled him to charge both north and south as circumstances required, made him one heck of a full-back.

Undoubtedly in the last 12 months or so his powers waned. The stares and glares remained, as ever, those of a man fed up to the back-teeth by all going on around him, but the pitch-long gallops were less frequent and effective, and his crossing at times became a little wild, the distribution not quite as of old. (Although there was still time for a charming swansong, his being the nutmeg and cross-field pass that set in motion our Champions League comeback against Ajax.)

However, the rather damning conclusion was that he ended his Tottenham career behind novices like Tanganga and Sessegnon, and the creakily-limbed Vertonghen, in the left-back pecking order.

All of which is to say nothing of his off-pitch behaviour. While the chap has been rightly applauded for the candid manner in which he has spoken on many issues, one did read some of his interviews about life at Spurs and get the impression that he skipped those classes on tact, delicacy of phrasing and subtlety.

A favourite of Poch he may have been, and for a couple of halcyon seasons few around were more full-blooded in the challenge, but whatever affection he may have held for the club pretty evidently went up in smoke some years back, and by the time he legged it back up north last week I daresay the air was rich with sighs of relief from all concerned.

2. Toodle-Oo Christian Eriksen

It has been a big week for the jettisoning of cargo that was once looked upon fondly but is now mildly embarrassing to be seen with. Having quite happily allowed his soul to depart the premises a good 12 months ago, Christian Eriksen finally exited in body as well, with few kinder sentiments ringing in his ears than some moody shrugs from the regulars, and the odd ripple of polite applause amongst the grumbles.

As with the aforementioned Rose, one struggles neatly to summarise the Tottenham career of Eriksen.

As with Rose, there were a couple of seasons when we were blessed to have a fellow in our midst who was evidently at the peak of his powers. At times he glided around the place like a man who, if not quite possessed of the Midas Touch on a 24-7 basis, certainly had a pretty regular subscription to the stuff.

Many were the games threatening to drift away from us in dreary fashion that he rescued with a late, long-range thing of beauty; on top of which the young bean was the fortunate recipient of twin blessings from Mother Nature, in the form of both the vision to pick an exquisite pass and the technique to deliver it.

All impressive stuff, and we natives purred over it often enough, but the ongoing frustration throughout his career was that for a nib who quite obviously was a hit when it came to producing the good stuff stuff, he did not therefore make it his default setting. Honestly, if you or I woke up one morning and found we were as talented at this football lark as Christian Eriksen, surely we would spend the entire 90 minutes each week demonstrating exactly that?

Easy to criticise from the armchairs of AANP Towers of course, but depending on my mood I would scratch chin or pull out hair in varying levels of exasperation that Eriksen did not employ himself from first minute to last in dictating games and pulling strings. Once or twice a game he would pull out some wondrous feat of creativity, as if the urge had only just struck him – but for the rest of the game he seemed happy to slink off into the shadows, as if he preferred the anonymity of being a mere mortal slumming it with the rest of the Premier League.

The fact that once or twice a game he would make such decisive contributions would be enough to fool the casual Match of the Day viewer into thinking that from start to finish such games were The Christian Eriksen Show, in which the other 23 were merely supporting cast. Alas, the truth was quite often that he had spent the remainder of the game shuttling about the place to negligible effect (and rolling his corners straight into the first defender).

On the biggest stage of them all, the Champions League Final, Eriksen curled up into a ball and watched quietly as events unfolded around him, as if aghast at the thought of disturbing matters. One does not want to lay it on too thick, but to fade out of existence at the time when we needed him most had a vaguely symbolic air to it.

3. Lo Celso Becomes Permanent

As I understand, once upon a time those who wanted to get ahead in life would remark, every time the reigning monarch biffed off this mortal sphere, “The King is dead, long live the King”, the gist of the gag being that before the previous incumbent was even cold all attention had turned to the newly-installed punter.

I mention this because a similar set of circumstances appears to be unfolding at N17. The air of North London still retains traces of Eau de Eriksen and already the chap has been consigned to the annals, with his heir apparent having wasted little time in getting up to speed.

Lo Celso is now permanently on the payroll, having been upgraded from Loanee to Fully-Fledged Lilywhite last month. After a few brief cameos in the early months, recent weeks have seen the young cove go through the whole caterpillar-chrysalis-butterfly routine with some aplomb, and it’s not a huge exaggeration to say that others on the pitch, as well as thousands in the stands, are now looking to him above all others to provide creative spark.

In the last couple of games in particular one cannot help but notice that amidst the humdrum of sideways passing and cul-de-sac meandering, Lo Celso’s contributions have generally been to pick and deliver a pass that has parted opposition defences like an Old Testament deity having his way with the Red Sea.

It’s precisely the sort of stuff we require in spades, especially against the more defensive types, and it’s the sort of stuff that Eriksen, if you remember the chap, would spray about the place on all too rare occasions. One does not want to get ahead of oneself, but the early signs are that Lo Celso has a bit more appetite for this sort of thing, which in my book makes him a shrewd signing.

4. Fingers Crossed for Fernandes and Bergwijn

As for the other two arrivals, I cannot claim to be one of those who pores over foreign matches, analysing each player on show. As such I cannot provide much info on either of Messrs Fernandes and Bergwijn, other than to note that the latter’s YouTube compilations make for pretty underwhelming viewing, featuring numerous instances of him being bundled to the ground or smashing a shot wide. One assumes that The Brains Trust has a better grip on affairs.

More encouragingly, it is simply a relief to have brought in a couple of reinforcements. I don’t subscribe to this bilge about the first eleven being perfectly hunky-dory and therefore there being no need for any further signings. For a start, our first eleven has slopped pretty dramatically off-kilter in recent months.

But more to the point, even if Fernandes and Bergwijn are not noticeable improvements on the current residents, their very presence at training ought to make the likes of Dier, Winks, Lucas and Lamela think to themselves “What ho, we’ve got some competition here, might be time to buck up our ideas and raise our levels a notch or two.”

Proven world-beaters they might not be, and Danny Rose would presumably have greeted their arrivals with some prize chuntering, but in these injury-hit times I’m happy to stand them a bourbon or two.

5. New Strikers (Or Absence Thereof)

Perhaps the most striking feature of this transfer window was neither an arrival nor departure but the complete absence of activity on the centre-forward front.

With Harry Kane having broken his fingernail as early as 1st Jan, there was plenty of time for those tasked with such things to get themselves down to the nearest charity shop and bag themselves a striker – yet come 1st Feb the cupboard was depressingly bare.

Not being privy to the machinations of striker-purchasing one can only speculate as to the reasons why we remain one proven goalscorer light, but the net result is that we are ill-equipped for the rigours of the spring and summer months. This parlous state of affairs is added to by the fact that Jose’s modus operandi rather depends on most eggs being placed into the Sizeable Centre Forward basket. Between the long balls from Toby and crosses from Aurier, ours is a team increasingly set up for some sort of Homme de Target, as the French no doubt put it.

Instead we are now left to make do with Sonny and Lucas, and heaven help us if either of those should catch a sniffle or worse. Both are of course handy sorts in their own ways, but when Nature was fashioning Target Men from scratch it’s a pretty fair bet that these two were not amongst the prototypes.

The names of Giroud, Willian Jose and Piatek were mentioned at various points during January, and these three being affordable and willing enough, it is a pretty cruel blow to saunter away from the bargaining table with not one striker to our name.

Game by game no doubt all involved will make a decent stab at it, but all things considered this has been yet another of those transfer windows that leaves one in pretty low spirits, and frankly the approaching months have a fairly gloomy look about them.

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5 Thoughts on Spurs’ Transfer Deadline Day

1. Lo Celso: We Approve

Admittedly my excitement about this is slightly akin to excitement about buying a purple unicorn, because I’ve no real idea of what the chap does aside from the YouTube clips that have done the rounds, and the occasional article about Expected Goals and Successful Dribbles that makes the head hurt just to read.

Nevertheless, I dare say onlookers have noticed a spring in the AANP step since this one was confirmed. One does not have to cast the mind back too far to recall, with a shudder and darkened brow, the days when we were linked with a reasonably exciting foreign name, and the thing dragged out for a while before failing to come to fruition at the last. (It happened yesterday in fact, with Dybala.) So just the fact that Levy has dug into the pockets, cleared out the moths and sifted through his coppers in order to bring Lo Celso to the Lane is an exciting development.

For make no mistake, our midfield needed a bit of a spit and polish. When young Skipp is one of the next cabs on the rank, you know the cupboard is, if not exactly bare, then boasting only those jars that nobody really wants to touch. Since the start of last season we have lost Dembele – admittedly an ageing and creaking Dembele, but still one of the finest around – and struggled to cope with injuries.

The addition of Ndombele appears a pretty suitable fit for the Dembele-shaped hole; and it appears that Lo Celso will add some vim and sparkle in the other direction. Even should Eriksen leave, we seem to have done pretty well out of this. By all accounts Lo Celso is no Eriksen Mk II – a different type of attacking tool, so my spies inform me – but that strikes me as no bad thing. Not to besmirch the good name of the Dane, I just mean that having a new, different box of tricks will freshen up our attack, as well as keeping all others on their toes.

2. Sessegnon: A Match Made in Young Player Development Heaven

Rather pleased with this one too. It’s a blindingly obvious match in truth – one of the best young prospects around, coupled with a manager with the reputation for developing the best young prospects around. One can imagine them leaping into each other’s arms as if were a routine they’d been practising for weeks.

Word on the street is that young Sessegnon is pretty happy wearing any of the hats marked Left-Back, Left Wing-Back or Left Winger – and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Fulham apply him in that awfully modern role of inverted right winger, whereby he’s constantly cutting infield.

While it might possibly be heaping a little too much pressure on the lad to expect him to be the second coming of Gareth Bale, the N17 hopes are undoubtedly high that this young bean will have a long and distinguished career in lilywhite.

One would expect him to be eased into the team this season, competing with Rose as an attacking left-back, and maybe having the occasional free hit as some sort of left-sided attacker. In effect his signing also provides us with central defensive cover, as it means Ben Davies is likely third in the pecking order for left-back – and quite rightly too – so will become an option as left-sided centre back.

And all at the pretty reasonable sum of £25m, which in today’s market will buy you the standing leg of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, a few curls on the head of Harry Maguire or one entire Tyrone Mings. Pretty nifty work.

3. Dybala: Never Likely (Except it Almost Actually Happened)

As mentioned, the Dybala thing came and went the way of Rivaldo, Juninho, Leandro Damaio and various others the years.

The cynical, wearied, pessimistic Spurs fan in me simply did not have the energy nor inclination to become excited about the Dybala rumour, even though at various points it seemed that pundits and fans alike were pretty convinced that he would transform from puppet into actual boy.

As it turned out, we were actually a lot closer than expected to signing the young whippet, which would have made for a curious but excellent addition. Even having failed to get the chap, on account of some terribly modern garbage called Image Rights of all things – whatever next? – the fact that we met the asking price and coughed up the wages reflects pretty well on our resident purse-string holder – as well as indicating that there are reputational gains to be had from reaching a Champions League Final.

The question of what to do in case of long-term injury to Kane therefore still remains, and with Llorente having very slowly ambled out the exit there is also something of a concern as to what our Plan B might be, or how to withdraw Kane for a breather with 10 to go.

However, a second striker was not as much of a priority as adding an extra layer or two to the midfield. Moreover, this potentially means that, unless he is shoved out on loan, the rather exciting young nib Parrott might gain a few minutes here and there.

4. Rose, Alderweireld, Eriksen: Keeping Them Is Excellent Work (So Far)

As well as the players in, arguably as great a triumph was making it through the transfer window without losing either of Danny Rose or Toby.

Now I’m well aware that we probably ought not to start decking the halls with bunting and strewing confetti around the place just yet, as there is every chance some rotter or other from overseas will swoop in and do their damnedest for either of the above.

But nevertheless. Toby’s £25m release clause was so obviously a good deal for literally every single one of our 19 Premier League rivals that one can only conclude that every last one of them spent the period in which that clause was applicable out on the mother of all drinking binges, lasting several weeks, and only waking up the following morning to discover that the clause had expired.

Toby for around £40m to some foreign power would still represent a pretty smart piece of business on their part, so my breath is held, but it does appear that we are over the worst of it.

While on my soap box, the whole business of being willing to part with both Toby and Rose strikes me as madness of the highest degree. I’m all for planning for the future, but not at the expense of the present, dash it. Toby and Rose are arguably as good as anyone else in their respective positions in England – why on earth would we want to jettison either of them? It’s sheer lunacy! If folk are waving £100m at us I get the point; but if we have the option of retaining their services for another full season, at near enough the peak of their powers, then oughtn’t we to do that, even if it does mean losing them for a pittance? I realise that this is simply not a language Daniel Levy speaks, but I honestly think that they will repay any losses in transfer fee by contributing to on-field success.

As for Eriksen, the arrival of Lo Celso at least covers for the eventuality of him scramming for the continent.

5. Onomah: No Tears Shed Over Here, Laddie

A final epitaph on the notable departee from yesterday. As seasoned drinkers at the AANP Tavern will be aware, Josh Onomah had the honour of being the one chap I simply could not stand, for relatively senseless reasons, so his departure seemed an excellent excuse to allow myself an extra splash of bourbon.

He was an honest enough soul, I suppose, and could not be faulted for effort. But the young fish was far too lightweight for this game, as evidenced by the fact that if an opposing full-back sneezed in his direction he would hurtle off the pitch as if tossed there by a woolly mammoth. Too lightweight, and not extraordinarily gifted in other ways, he was of that breed marked as “One for the future” who, when the future arrived, was found not to have progressed all that much. The Championship seems the right home for him at present.

All things considered then, while the Dybala miss was a shame, this has been a pretty satisfactory window. Poch has been backed, key areas have been strengthened and while some concerns remain (cover for Kane, right-back looks light until Sissoko saves the day), we are in a better place than we were two months ago.

Spurs 3-0 Coventry: A Phantom Victory, Plus New Arrivals

In common with more than of you I blinked and thereby missed most of the ITV highlights of this one, so the AANP analysis will this week consist of no more than verbose but ultimately vacuous generalisations, and the occasional laboured piece of wordplay. Not that different from normal then.

From the point of view of one whose observations were so minimal as to radically redefine the term ‘objective’, this appears a job satisfactorily done, with ticked boxes as far as the eye can see. Such fixtures can prove tricky (admittedly less so at home), and given this we ought probably to be grateful for being reduced to the 30-second highlights slot, it representing a distinct lack of tabloid-friendly shock-and-awe fodder. Credit then to our heroes for doing the honourable thing and ending the thing as a context before the floodlights were lit, and a nod of approval also for breaking with tradition both in scoring a couple from set-pieces and in turning early dominance into more than just the solitary goal.

Elsewhere Scott Parker was unleashed to scuttle manically from the off, Benny had a first opportunity to rediscover his groove and the handsome young Welshman at one point apparently skinned five opponents before shooting wide (although, regrettably, I have since been reliably informed that the term was but metaphorical. Shame that.)

Transfer Shufflings

Marvellous. Elsewhere however, the giant, unavoidable engine of January transfer doings is gently creaking into action, with the news that Herr Lewis Holtby has rather charmingly cocked a snook at that ‘orrible lot down the road and pledged his future to the lilywhites of N17, from Summer ’13 onwards. Smart chap. Now AANP is not about to pretend that it is any sort of expert on footballers plying their wares on foreign fields – or indeed domestic ones, or any other topics really, other than mindless action films and a good whisky – but the resident l’Arse supporter around these parts has somewhat dolefully informed me that the boy Holtby impressed for Schalke against his lot in the Champions League. As such, someone somewhere in the corridors of power at the Lane probably ought to pat themselves on the back and flash a knowing wink in the direction of Daniel Levy.

And for those who like their lamb skewered even more excitement awaits in Transfer Land, for it emerges that the implausibly-named whippersnapper Zeki Fryers is pootling in a lilywhite direction with a spring in his step and tearful adieus ringing in his ears from chums at Standard Liege. (And also apoplectic warbling from Sir Alex Ferguson apparently, but that particular kettle of fish is one for the FA to huddle over). Legend has it that Fryers defends and Holtby tries his luck further up the greenery, so hearty welcomes to both – but hopeful murmurings will no doubt continue that some brain-meltingly good, established, attacking types will be unveiled imminently. Toodle-pip for now.

Hudd, Dawson & Adebayor – AANP Weeps, Shrugs & Rejoices

Hudd to StokeWEEP! Weep – and while you’re at it wail and gnash your teeth – for Hudd is a lilywhite no more! Admittedly the veracity of the above does depend on a technicality, as the blighter has departed only on loan for now, but apparently AVB deems him too slow for this post-Corluka era.

Whether or not he returns seems fairly questionable, for while the loaning of younglings is generally geared towards ripening them for First XI action, loans for more established 20-somethings are typically more akin to a commercial on the tellybox – designed in no uncertain terms to entice viewers to part with tuppence ha’penny.

So weep then, for possibly the silkiest stroker of a leather sphere witnessed on N17 turf since Hoddle has now seemingly munched on his last doughnut from the White Hart Lane canteen. Admittedly Moutinho may still be on the radar, but otherwise it seems jolly uncanny that AVB cannot find room for Hudd within a 3-man central midfield, particularly with Modric still persona non grata, Scott Parker injured and Jermaine blinking Jenas hovering in the background with evil grin on visage and custom-made sideways-and-backwards-passing boots slung over shoulder. Thus, however, does our esteemed leader roll. AVB likes his troops to scuttle around the ankles of opponents like a troupe of particularly sprightly monkeys caught up in the excitement of the mating season, and alas, such a description will never, ever befit Master Huddlestone.

To add to the pain of it all, the marriage of a technician extraordinaire such as Hudd, with an elbows and long-ball outfit like Stoke, seems the very paradigm of incongruity. Should he be travelling to the Britannia in the capacity of Champagne Football Evangelist one can only hope he fares better than our distant cousins who first attempted that preaching lark. Would be a dashed shame if he were mauled to death by lions.

Daws to QPR 

Big and brave and inspiring though he regularly is, our heroes are not peddling a production of Henry V  so there is a limited need for Dawson’s qualities. In particular, his penchant for roaring at the Paxton end and sticking his head where boots swing fails to mask the fact that in the act of Paxton-roaring and head-sticking he has wandered out of position, about-turned with the nimbleness of an embarrassed elephant and flicked his switch to Clumsy-Last-Ditch-Challenge mode – and at 28 the problem was hardly about to remedy itself. In Kaboul, Gallas and (admittedly the little I have seen of) Vertonghen we have three centre-backs who are better, or at least his equal, while Caulker is developing well and is young enough to improve.

A fine servant to the cause, and the goal vs Chelski circa 2006 remains one of my favourite lilywhite memories of recent years, but on this one AANP concurs with AVB, and a mooted sum of £9.5 million would be fairly health business.

Adebayor to the Lane

Glory be. It had got to the stage where Steven Fletcher was being mentioned in dispatches, so to have dotted t’s and crossed i’s on this is a blessed relief.

For added chortle-value it appears that in order to rid themselves of him, Man City have hit upon the novel idea of paying him the sizeable lump of wage that we poor and needy White Hart Laners could not afford. While it may furrow the brow of one J. Defoe Esquire, at £5 million this is a reason to doff the cap in the general direction of Master Levy.

Ahoy-Hoy & Toodle-Pip: Musings on Spurs’ Transfer Window

The dust may have settled, but it would be frightfully remiss to pootle along any further without casting a beady eye over the various to-ings and fro-ings of the transfer window. Step this way please…Welcome to the Lane… 

Curiouser and curiouser, we now somehow find ourselves bottom of the table yet with both of last season’s Players of the Year in the ranks. This one get a raucous slapping of the thigh, as in the absence of Sandro, and the now dearly departed Sergeant Wilson, our central midfield personnel have barely made a tackle between them. Like a cereal gone wrong Parker is all bustle, harry and snap. Moreover, for those of us still scarred by memories of Palacios misplacing six-yard passes, or ducking for cover as Steffen Freund shaped to shoot, Parker also has enough technical ability to look at home within a typical Tottenham midfield. Just as behind every good man is a woman, behind every Hudd and Modders we need a Parker.

A bonus point too to someone or other – probably Daniel Levy – for haggling for a price as low as £5 mil for Parker, on the grounds that his aged 30 year-old limbs merited no higher fee, while simultaneously purloining £10 mil (possibly to rise to £12 mil apparently) for 30 year-old Peter Crouch, a man who didn’t win Player of the Year last season…

Emmanuel Adebayor

As previously mentioned, AANP approves of this one too. Like or loathe the man we certainly need the player. A point of concern for the future is that come next summer we will presumably find ourselves without either Adebayor or Modders (and back in possession of Jenas once again), but many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip, so we’ll concern ourselves with that at a later date.

Brad Friedel 

Luka Modric

The swine. One jolly well hopes that after all the brouhaha he retains his undoubted ability to direct operations from deep, rather than transmitting his recently discovered dastardliness to on-pitch performances of apathy.

While I’m not sure I’d buy a used car from the man, I give credit again to Levy for sticking to his word on this, after being strung out by Berba in similarly unsavoury circumstances back in the days of yore. As well as raising a couple of choice fingers at players’ disregard for their contracts, £40 mil in the dying embers of the transfer window would have been of limited use, and even earlier there is only so much we could have done – our problem is wages rather than transfer fees. Rather than stock up with more Premiership standard players, we need world-class talent, and the £40 mil we would have gained would presumably have gone towards the former rather than the latter. A replacement of similar transfer fee and quality (eg Snjeider) simply would not have come. Far better that we retain Modders, at least for a year.

And Shunted Unceremoniously Toward The Exit Door… 

 

Robbie Keane 

Wilson Palacios

Having resembled a cross between Rambo and Robocop when he joined, poor old Sergeant Wilson seemed completely perplexed by the physics of the football by the end of last season, with the result that of every 50 attempted passes, 49 tended to find an opponent, all of which rather negated his tackling ability. The arrival of a new, improved model (in the shape of Sandro) has brought about his ruthless but entirely sensible culling from the fold. In the context of the £5 mil arrival of Scott Parker, the £8 mil sale of Palacios represents more frightfully good business from the N17 moneymen.

Peter Crouch

Ye gods be praised. No doubt he’ll loop a header into the Tottenham net later on this season, but for a chap of that structure to be quite so poor at heading was nigh on unforgiveable. The constant concession of free-kicks tended to be more the fault of the officials than Crouch, but nevertheless, aside from a purple patch in partnership with VDV, this chap contributes precious little of value as a striker. Poor in the air, possessed of a ludicrously weak shot and prone to grinning whenever he missed, frankly he riled us here at AANP Towers, a situation exacerbated by the dismissal against Real and own-goal against City last season.

Jermaine Jenas

Rejoice, rejoice and thrice I invite ye – rejoice. At least until the end of the season.

Once upon a time – about three years ago, Jenas threatened to make good on all that youthful promise. Alas, the rest rather besmirches the history of Tottenham Hotspur, AANP frequently shaking its head in wonder, and concluding that the lad must be magic in training, because his performances on the pitch hardly merited a regular starting berth. That unique brand of Sideways and Backwards will take the Midlands by storm this year.

In Conclusion

Some fine dabblings, in both directions. The grass is always greener, so we may well chunter away about the failure to nab young G. Cahill Esquire, but nevertheless, “Clear out the deadwood; bring in a midfielder with bite; and ruddy well stick a powerful striker upfront” were three fairly critical points on the summer to-do list at the Lane. AANP approves.

Scott Parker

Spurs 0-0 Man Utd: A Delayed Match Report – And With Good Reason

Apologies for the delay –since the final whistle sounded on Sunday afternoon the denizens of AANP Towers have spent every waking minute traipsing the country searching for anyone – anyone – willing to buy Peter Crouch from us. It does not have to be the chairman of a football team. He could be bought by a British Basketball Association franchise, or shoved into a museum for small children to gawp at. In fact, since the finishing touches are being put to my latest abode, and I now scour the world’s furnishing shops for a tall lamp to stand next to the very sexy black glass shelving unit, I am considering pilfering Crouch myself and shoving him a corner with a candle in his ear. Admittedly it will not undo the entirely vacuous contribution he made against United, but it would probably ensure that ‘Arry buys the striker we’re crying out for, or at least that he next time picks Defoe, or Pav, or even Carlo blinking Cudicini in attack.I perhaps exaggerate the blighter’s ineptitude, but only marginally. The dust has been allowed to settle for several days, yet harking back to the match still fills me with mild apoplexy. If anyone on the pitch looked conspicuously short of Title-challenging quality, ‘twas he. Presumably included on the basis of his ability to tee things up for VDV he was exposed as woefully incapable of offering any sort of aerial challenge to the sinister Vidic, leaving me and several of those around me to wonder whether Defoe might have caused the United back-line more problems nearer ground-level. Crouch was also treated to possibly the clearest goalscoring opportunity of the match but, alas, used the moment to add to the ever-expanding body of evidence that he is anything but a natural goalscorer (or even, to quote the more acid-tongued, a natural footballer). According to the bespectacled, anorak-clad types at Opta Crouch’s pass completion rate was apparently 32%, suggesting an allergy to the ball rather than an ability to hold it up and link play. Damning stuff, when taken in its entirety.

Anyway, if Niall Quinn is wondering why he has had champagne and caviar delivered to him every evening, a gleaming new Lamborghini has turned up in his driveway and several bars of solid gold left on his doormat, all accompanied by notes reading, “With compliments, AANP”, it is because Sunderland are rumoured to have a passing interest in signing Crouch. Egads man, take him! Take him!

Elsewhere On The Pitch

Elsewhere we fared well enough, our heroes having the better of the game without ever really convincing anyone that a goal was imminent. There was imperious stuff from Modders and Daws, and adequate stuff from Sergeant Wilson; while BAE, fast making a career of flitting between sublime and ridiculous, opted for the former, shoving Nani into his rear pocket and keeping him there for the duration, presumably to the incredulity of Alan Hansen. One mildly disappointing aspect was that after the sending-off young Master Bale did not slowly turn to ad hoc right-back Darren Fletcher and give him the blood-curdling grin of a fully-blown psychotic type, before absolutely mutilating him. Fletcher got off rather lightly in those final 15 minutes, for no obvious reason, and a thigh-slappingly good opportunity to barge back into the title race – and, more pertinently, the top four – gently edged away.

Leaps and bounds no doubt, but the progress of the last couple of years is probably not such as to make us title-challengers yet. A couple of well-chosen signings ought to do the trick. On which note…

Pienaar

In all honesty he’s someone I know by hearsay and Match of the Day’s condensed highlights, rather than having scouted vigorously for the last few years. However, although not the rampaging striker for which we yearn, he seems a talented attacking sort, and can apparently play left, right or centre. Moreover, if his arrival shoves Jenas down the pecking order then I will happily lock myself away in a dark for several years while I grow my hair, before braiding it and tattooing “Pienaar 40” across my back. Bolstering the quality of playing personnel as we move into the second half of the season seems a noble practice, and increasing the competition for places ought to give a healthy edge to things. Finally, as a valedictory note I wish to applaud the young man for opting for Spurs over that odious bunch from West London. Bravo sir, may your stay be long and successful.

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s Dad – White Hart Lane Legend

At the time of typing it seems that the i’s have not yet been dotted, t’s crossed and funky Icelandic symbols inserted, but nevertheless it seems that Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is heading to the Lane imminently. The AANP verdict? Instinctive reaction is a thumbs-up. Admittedly I haven’t seen him play for a few years, other than the odd Champions League cameo, but he’s only 31 so I’d imagine he’s still got it. “It” in this instance is a Sheringham-esque ability to play thoughtfully with his back to goal. Back in the day I thought he was a cracking little player – smart, able to pick passes that few others spot and technically excellent. I fancy that he and Modders will find each other’s wavelengths without too much difficulty, which is a lip-smacking prospect.We’ve tried to use Keane in that withdrawn role, helping out the midfield, but few would suggest that it has been an overwhelming success this season. Crouch does a noble job of dropping deep and laying off the ball for team-mates, but he could not be described as a hub of creativity. Gudjohnsen, I hope, will be able to do that job with a lot more élan and inventiveness.

This does essentially leave us with five strikers, so the welcoming handshakes offered by Messrs Keane and Pav might be a little firmer than is could strictly be deemed friendly, but if it improves performances I won’t complain. A half-season loan is hardly high-risk either.

West Ham’s new owners seem rather miffed at our conduct here, spookily suggesting that karma will have its wicked way with us. Personally I have no bone to pick with that lot – as with every other team I just hope we beat them twice a season, so there is no underlying sense of vitriol when I suggest that we do not seem to have done anything wrong here. The guy was available for transfer; West Ham have tried to get him; before he signed for them we too have courted him; and it appears that, with impeccable judgement, he is opting for us. All seems above board, and if anything the man himself should be incurring their wrath.

Should we seal the deal AANP Towers will clink a glass to Gudjohnsen tonight. As has been suggested in other quarters, other areas of the team may be a higher priority, but as a cheap short-term deal this is fine. And the name Gudjohnsen already has its place in White Hart Lane history – if you just bear with me while I don my anorak I’ll tell you that Eidur’s Dad (and agent) Arnor was the chap whose crucial penalty was saved by Tony Parks, in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final shoot-out.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith,Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne hereAnd as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

Kranjcar to Spurs – A Triffic Transfer

I feel like Mr Pink after the dust settles in that brief, but oh-so-memorable shoot-out. I’ll just tip-toe around the bloody mess, pick up the case full of loot and hot-foot it out of here.The bloody mess is Bentley to Man City, Petrov the other way, David James splattered all over the place, and even Anton Ferdinand, sitting lifelessly on a chair minus an ear. Transfer rumours shot to pieces, in the blink of an eye.

The case full of loot is Niko Kranjcar. Okay, maybe not a case full of loot, but it’s the first time the club has really personally apologized to me for selling Steed. I graciously accept the apology. It’s not perfect, but it’s a valid offering of peace.

I quite like Kranjcar, from the bits and bobs I’ve seen over the years. He’s not amazing, but he’ll do his best to fill the gap left by Luka, and thereafter he’ll be a cracking option in the squad. Instinct is to go forward rather than back or sideways (sounds logical, but remember ye Jermaine Jenas?); more of a

bona fide left-side man than Keane; eye for goal; cheap and cheerful. That’s a lot of boxes ticked. Triffic signing.Pardon me while I indulge in a personal whim, but I particularly like the fact that he isn’t a traditional, touchline-hugging winger. It’s just a little guilty pleasure of mine, but I much prefer “wingers” who cut inside and play a short ball on the floor. Before you know it the whole pitch seems to be alive with movement. Everyone is making cute little diagonal runs, interchanging positions, giving defenders ten things to think about all at once.

I probably ought to confess that I’m no I’m no Kranjcar expert, so feel free to storm in here, thump an irate fist down on my table and start righting wrongs I’ve just written, but the occasional MoTD highlights of him pleaseth me.

Truth be told, I’m also rather glad that we didn’t sell Bentley and didn’t buy James. (I have no opinion on Petrov). However, there remains an itch, mid-way down the back that is impossible to scratch, and it will continue to bug me for months on end. If something happens to Palacios we’re in trouble. All other eventualities we will cope with somehow, but Palacios is the cornerstone of this operation. ‘Arry has made all the right moves in the transfer market so far – not least in signing Palacios in the first place, and even in bringing in Chimbonda at a time when a real defensive crisis threatened – so I’ll just tell myself that he does have a plan for life without Wilson…

 

The invitation is still open to share your memories of White Hart Lane legends, in anticipation of Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book that rather does what it says on the tin. Feel free to add your memories of Jimmy Greaves here, of Jurgen Klinsmann here and Clive Allen here

EXCLUSIVE!!!! Kind Of. Redknapp Off to Glasgow to Watch Scott Brown

How’s this for hard-hitting, bone-crunching, investigative journalism? AANP Towers can exclusively reveal, via its deep network of KGB-style informants who have brutally beaten the information out of their contacts, that our glorious leader ‘Arry, and his trusty sidekick Kevin Bond, are on a plane to Glasgow!!! Ahead of the Celtic – l’Arse game!!!

PRESUMABLY WITH A VIEW TO WATCHING SCOTT BROWN IN ACTION!!!!!!!If only I could fathom how to shift photos from my mobile to my pc I’d spoil you all with a frankly triffic picture of Redknapp asleep in his aisle seat. The fact that my mate has decided to endanger the lives of all on board the plane, by keeping his mobile turned on during the flight, seems a price worth paying for such earth-shattering news. You lucky things.Scott Brown. Not many people seem to know an awful lot about the chap. Descriptions currently being ascribed to him include “hard-working”, “dirty” and “a Scottish Zokora”. Good grief.

My avidly Celtic-supporting mate – the one endangering all on the plane – has previously described him as a “terrier” in the Roy Keane mould, albeit one who “needs to develop”. This suggests that he is possibly being eyed up as an understudy to sergeant Wilson, or maybe as an occasional partner, for those roll-up-the-sleeves-and-fight occasions. However, the jury at AANP Towers will remain out for the foreseeable future. Having exhausted myself unearthing such an exclusive scoop I’ll sit back and let everyone else argue amongst themselves regarding the quality of the lad. I guess we can all cast our beady eyes over him in tonight’s game. In the mean-time, watch this space for more dynamite, jaw-dropping revelations about Spurs. AANP Towers – where the mundane is dressed in unnecessary glitz, and months-old gossip is regurgitated as “exclusive”…

 

Jimmy Greaves. No two ways about it, a true Tottenham legend – and AANP wants to hear your memories of the man, from both on and off the pitch. Our record goalscorer is, naturally enough, one of the players featuring in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, the forthcoming book looking at players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club. Not everyone was lucky enough to have seen him in action, but if you did, or somehow came into contact with him, please do share right here.
Memories of Jurgen Klinsmann also welcome, over here.

Bassong to Spurs – More Sensible Summer Spending

Bassong, eh? Well first up, if you’re looking for an in-depth Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats analysis of the chap, then look elsewhere. We at AANP Towers spent most of last season watching Spurs, rather than Newcastle, which I would suggest is a fairly pardonable offence.Word on the street is that he is quite handy. He comes highly-rated apparently (don’t they all?), and a toon-supporting friend of a friend has had some pleasant things to say about him – closer to Lennon than Corluka in terms of pace; one of the few players to keep his head up until the bitter end in Geordie-land; proved himself equally capable at full-back as at centre-back; generally a ray of sunshine in a world of black-and-white grey. While there is something vaguely ominous about buying a defender from a club that has just been relegated, the consensus is that it seems a reasonable buy.

However, to repeat, my dossier on the blighter is rather bare at the moment, so I’ll turn my attention instead to a few hypotheticals.  It’s academic now I suppose, but I do wonder whether we would have gone fishing for Bassong had all three of our centre-backs been fit – that is, was it always ‘Arry’s masterplan to have a juicy selection of four dedicated centre-backs from which to choose this season, in the hallowed name of Squad Depth? Or alternatively, have we just spent £8 mil on an ad hoc defender to see us through the next month or two, until everyone is up and running again?

The last time we splashed out on someone to see us through an injury crisis was in January, when Defoe broke his foot and Keane was bought. Back then £10 mil or so struck me as an awful lot of money for a short-term solution, but the proof of the pudding was in the eating, and in the absence of Defoe in early-2009 the pointy shouty Irishman did his job, and as such justified the outlay. (Thereafter Keane went a little weird, all midfield-running and an allergy to shooting, but by then we were safe from the drop).

Back to Bassong. If he was bought with the season-opener vs Liverpool in mind, it was a rubbish idea, as he is suspended for that and the next game. More pertinently though, might ‘Arry even be viewing him as Ledley’s long-term replacement? Possibly too early to speculate about that.

In the shorter-term, I wonder what the pecking order will be when King, Woodgate and Dawson are all fit. Admittedly, “when King, Woodgate and Dawson are all fit” is possibly an assumption too far, but assuming they are all patched up and good to go at some point, I would guess that Bassong will be first reserve, ahead of Dawson. It’s hard not to like Daws, and after a dodgy 2007-08 he was largely back on form last season, but there are still flaws in his game. For all his willingness he does tend to act first and think later, prone to rushing out of position in gung-ho manner and leaving a Dawson-shaped gap behind him. He will get his opportunities this season, but at 25 he is unlikely to take too kindly to a stop-start season mainly spent warming the bench.

Those are just some idle musings to welcome young Bassong to the White Hart Lane fold . What we have, by all accounts, is a young, pacy centre-back at a fairly reasonable price in the current market. Broadly speaking, it gets the much sought-after nod of approval from AANP Towers, as it is further indicative of a sensible summer spending policy at the Lane, something we haven’t had in years. It’s another signing that bolsters the squad, and will make us a tougher nut for opponents to crack in 09/10.

 

Spurs Cult Heroes 

Opinions still sought on the top 20 Spurs Cult Heroes – players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club. The majority pick themselves, but still some debate over the final three – Jennings? Teddy? Gilzean? White? Freund? Conn? Lineker? Burkinshaw? Have a read here, and voice your opinion.

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