All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Reminiscing About Former Kits – Another Quiet Week At Spurs

So it’s official. The new Tottenham kits have been unveiled, the home shirt being white with urine-like streaks of yellow across the chest. The away shirts are relatively inoffensive, but if the home kit were a player it would be David Bentley – trying too hard to look flash, when keeping it simple would do the trick.As is fairly universally acknowledged, we won’t care too much what the kit looks like if the players wearing it can deliver the goods next season. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything more interesting about which to pass opinion this week, the new home shirt is something of a disappointment, the yellow bits and pieces a rather curious and certainly unnecessary addition.

I no longer buy these kits – if anything I’ll purchase a retro number, a sure sign that I’m getting on a bit. Once upon a time however, as a whippersnapper in a classroom literally across the road from White Hart Lane, I and various peers would spend hours designing Spurs kits, presumably to the bewilderment of our teachers. Even then it was pretty obvious that every flash and streak added would make the thing look proportionally worse.If I could pick a favourite Spurs kit it would probably be from those halcyon schoolboy days – the Umbro number in which we won the ’91 Cup Final. Relatively plain, smart collar, and an entertainingly old-school baggy feel – with the solid Holsten logo providing the p

 

ièce de résistance. (Rather embarrassed to admit that at that time I also quite liked the away kit that complemented it – a yellow number with what, at the time, seemed achingly cool jagged blue diamonds on one shoulder.) In the final analysis however, it’s only a matter of opinion – feel free to have a browse here.Robbie Keane and Ray Liotta

Good grief, did I really manage to write that many words about clothes? It’s indicative of another week in which precious little has happened at the Lane. The rumour of choice over the last seven days has been the one linking Robbie Keane to Sunderland. As happens in many a classic gangster film, what ought to have been the zenith of Keane’s career appears instead to have prompted his downfall. Recall Ray Liotta and chums in Goodfellas considering the Lufthansa heist to be the big one, that would have crowned their careers and made them millionaires. Indeed, they pulled it off, but the immediate aftermath unravelled everything they had built up, and saw them all end up dead or in jail.

While Keane’s from grace has not been quite so bullet-riddled, it was also sparked by the move that ought to have been the pinnacle of his career. Having been half of one of the most potent strike partnerships in the country, he moved to a Liverpool side that were regulars in the Champs League and itching for a title challenge – and his career has gone steadily downhill since. Now he’s allegedly on the brink of a move to a club that only just avoided relegation.

Elsewhere there has been talk of Bassong in, and Hudd out, but while the lack of concrete action makes for dull reading, it actually rather pleases me. Our team only needs tweaking in order to challenge for Europe and possibly even fourth, so wholesale changes would be unwelcome. We don’t need another season of transition, in which a host of new names take time to bed in. The squad as it stands is not bad. Therefore, every day that passes without anything happening suggests that our spine will be kept, and only minimal changes will be made.

The Week’s Non-Events at Spurs

My goodness it’s an arid, barren football landscape at this time of year. Admittedly there is the Confederations Cup (what the devil is that strange buzzing noise at all the South African stadia?), and the Under-21s are doing a sterling job for Queen and country, but once again at White Hart Lane the week has been characterised by the ethereal presence of rumours rather than any concrete developments.The Fixture List – So no action, no plot, and instead the highlight of the week has been the release of the fixture-list. It’s vaguely akin to getting excited about a weather forecast, but beggars can’t be choosers, so before the TV companies had a chance to stamp their filthy lucre all over it we at AANP Towers had a perusal. Liverpool first up elicited a rather fatalistic eye-roll, and April looks a tad tricky, but the fixture-gods have been strangely benevolent in their choice of final fixtures for us, with Bolton and Burnley standing in our way should we be mounting an end-of-season charge for Europe or better.

The most striking feature of the list is probably what is not included – namely European fixtures. I was a dedicated champion of the drive towards European qualification last season, but there is without doubt a silver lining to our failure to qualify, in terms of fewer games this time round. As well as the general benefit to players of reducing the likelihood of fatigue-induced injuries, this also gives us Ledley for the best part of the season, and ought generally to be conducive to a settled starting line-up, as we were able to produce to such good effect in the final months of last season.

Huntelaar, Robben, Heinze – Still nothing concrete in terms of transfers, but it is little secret that Daniel Levy was heading a delegation in Spain during the week, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is reportedly topping the list. Following the debacle that was Ramon Vega, we at AANP Towers are aware that a cracking name counts for nothing in the Premiership, but his parents still deserve a pat on the back for naming their son “Klaas”. Although I’m a little too apathetic to offer serious comment until this is upgraded from rumour to fact, I would be happy to see Huntelaar brought in before the season starts, rather than, say, Cisse.

Arjen Robben is another name on the list. I recall with bemusement the hullabaloo that surrounded his first few games in a Chelski shirt, when he was lauded by some as the best player on the planet, a commendation which probably said more about the introspective nature of the Premiership and its commentators than the player himself. There is undoubtedly good trickery in his feet, but admiration for his talent is largely negated by my disdain for his histrionics. Admittedly just about every top-flight player has a dive and a roll around the floor these days, but Robben really is one of the most odious offenders.

Gabriel Heinze was the other name supposedly on the list. A top-notch left-back in his pomp at Man Utd, frankly I’m not sure if he’s still got it now in his early-thirties. Nothing wrong with a little competition in the squad I suppose, but I’ll be mightily disgruntled if his appearance at the club prompts Gareth Bale’s departure.

Ashley Young for David Bently plus Jenas/Hudd/cash – As left-wingers go, on a scale of one to ten (or Downing to Joe Cole) I guess Young would get a seven. Very good player, with the pace, trickery and youth to do on the left what Aaron Lennon does on the right, but after a blistering start to last season he rather tailed off towards the end, in common with his Villa team-mates. Still, we need a left-winger (assuming Modric goes central), and frankly if this puts to bed the Downing rumours I’ll stump up some cash for it myself.

Roman Pavluchenko Pav – or more accurately, Pav’s agent – has been making noises about a departure from the Lane. No-one would claim that he has been an unqualified success as yet, but the lad has shown glimpses of class, and I’d be pretty peeved if he were sold off after just one season, particularly if the likes of Cisse or Jones are brought in to replace him. Not reading too much into it at the moment, as it’s probably just his agent whipping up some mischief to pass the time. The devil making work for idle hands and all that.

And that’s all for this week really (which is actually a mild relief at AANP Towers, given that the real world is proving so darned busy – those estate agents can be a smarmy breed…). With the best part of two months to go until the season starts, it seems that the new kit launch will follow the fixture-list publication as the next non-event of the summer. I can barely wait.

The Week’s Tottenham Transfer Murmurings

Ruud van Nistelrooy – While I’ve always been keen to hurl down some funky shapes on the boogie floors of London’s finer night-spots on a booze-fuelled Saturday night, I’ve been honest enough to admit that I’m not a natural on the dance-floor. No, really. But by golly if I were, I would have danced an impromptu jig of delight at the news that we’re sniffing at Ruud van Nistelrooy. And I would have added a most inappropriate Michael Jackson-esque whoop at the news that this thoroughbred could be acquired for the thrifty sum of £1.25 million.£1.25 milion! No footballer can be bought for that amount these days. It’s like the football equivalent of 10p. Once upon a time 10p would at least buy a packet of chewing-gum, and £1.25 million would pick up a young but decidedly average English centre-back. Now, however, both sums are worthless in isolation and Anton Ferdinand costs £8 million. We could probably fund the RvN purchase by selling Gilberto. (Although RvN’s wages would presumably be astronomical.)

After the lamentable, waking nightmares that have been the Cisse and Kenwyne Jones rumours, the van Nistelrooy whispers are sounds as sweet as a Julie London solo. It may only be a short-term solution, but that’s fine with me – long-term contracts mean precious little these days anyway, and besides, who amongst us mere mortals can predict who will still be at the Lane 12 months hence? No, short-term is fine. We certainly need a physical presence to coax the best out of Keane/Defoe, and someone who is a proven goalscorer at Premiership level is all the better. I would quite happily see RvN, Keane, Defoe and young Obika as our four of choice in attack next season.

Sulley Muntari – Inter have rejected an ‘Arry bid for him, so sayeth his agent. Should this be true, the custodians of AANP Towers would nod in approval at ‘Arry’s wise judgement, but Jermaine Jenas may well furrow his brow, while T. Huddlestone Esquire would probably choke on his burger and chips, and nuggets, and sausages and beans, and onion rings, and dessert, in disgust. ‘Arry has said he’s targeting probably three key players this summer, and if one is a central midfielder it spells curtains for the likes of JJ and the Hudd.

Incidentally, there was also an extremely enthusiastic response chez AANP to the rumours of Mikael Arteta being snooped after; but alas, this is probably my fabled naivety coming to the fore once more – for, as has been pointed out elsewhere, such a rumour is probably the work of a dastardly agent angling for his client to get a pay-rise. There’s little chance of Everton selling the blighter. Would love to see him alongside Palacios though, would be like an improved version of JJ.

Didier Zokora – The futures of Jenas and Hudd may be uncertain, but that of do-do-do Didier appears to be gaining clarity, with the phrases “Sevilla” and “£5 million” being bandied around with care-free liberality. This seems mutually beneficial. He’s done a decent job for us, but with Palacios doing the business there is little scope for Zokora at the Lane, and he’s thinking about his international career, with the World Cup less than a year away (less than a year – huzzah!). It’s a decent sum for us to pick up too. (Apologies, I ought to have sprinkled in there somewhere the phrase “loyal servant”. Most remiss of me.)

David Bentley – Elsewhere, the brain-hurting sum being used to take Little Miss Ronaldo to Madrid has livened up what has, in truth, been a rather moribund football week, and given everyone a chance to demonstrate their knowledge – or lack thereof – of European footballers, by trying to name possible Man Utd targets to replace the little princess. I won’t bother explosing my own ignorance, but it did occur to me that, had this happened last summer, one David Bentley might well have been a name on a few lips. It’s a long time in football, is a year.

Sayonara Suckers – Who’s Leaving Spurs This Summer?

Like the Ferrerro Rocher Ambassador, we at AANP Towers are rather spoiling you today. Not only are we providing a hastily cobbled-together list of potential Lane departees, but we’re also implementing the flawless, scientifically-proven Who-Would-Buy-Them guide to the standard of team they would attract, thereby ascertaining whether they’re worth keeping.The Hudd
Primarily on this list because he’s yapped a few times about needing regular first-team football. Opinion may be split about quite how good he is, but I don’t think anyone in lilywhite would want to see him leave. Problem is, he needs more strings to his bow in order to command that regular starting-berth. He needs to boss games against the Premiership’s bigger teams. A bit of energy wouldn’t go amiss either. I suspect ‘Arry will stick with Jenas or bring in a new, first-choice midfielder, and such straws would break this well-fed camel’s back. Rather a shame.
Exit Potential: 6.5
Who Would Buy Him? Fulham, West Ham.

David Bentley
Don’t pelt me with rotten tomatoes, but I rather like the lad. He’s obviously got oodles of talent beneath all that hair gel, but from day one it just hasn’t worked. A regular (ie 10 consecutive games) on the right-wing may well have seen him crack it, but instead he’s had to sit on the bench and mutter curses to his reflection in his pocket mirror, as Aaron Lennon has gone from strength to strength on the right. Whenever he has had the chance he’s tried far too hard, the Pele impressions rather unnecessary when he just needed to keep it simple. We’ll rue his absence if Lennon gets injured next season, especially if we do bring in the sort of big centre-froward who would thrive upon Bentley’s crossing ability. However, ‘Arry himself has said

‘David is obviously going to think, “hang on, I’m not in the team even when Aaron Lennon’s not fit, and maybe it’s time I moved on”. Which rather spells things out.
Exit Potential: 9.5
Who Would Buy Him? Villa, Man City, EvertonDarren Bent
Poor sod. 17 goals in 42 appearances – precious few of which were 90 minutes in length – is a healthy record, yet we’ll probably remember him more for that miss against Pompey, and Mrs Redknapp comparisons it drew. He’s really not a bad striker, but neither is he the perfect foil for either Keane or Defoe, so it appears that another forward is on the shopping list this summer. Worth sticking a tenner on him to score against us next season.
Exit Potential: 8.5
Who Would Buy Him: Sunderland, Blackburn

Roman Pavluychenko
We’d all like to see him start at the Lane next season, refreshed and with a command of the vernacular that rivals Stephen Fry’s, but the straight-down-the-tunnel hissy-fit that accompanied his substitution vs Man City, at the tail-end of last season, left ‘Arry decidedly unimpressed. Whether or not he would be first-choice remains to be seen, but every now and then there have been flashes of class (Burnely at home, for example), and offloading him so soon would be a bizarrely impatient move.
Exit Potential: 6
Who Would Buy Him? Ooh, shiny foreign teams in the Champions League, that’s who.

Didier Zokora
The defensive midfielder’s position is now very firmly moulded into the barrel-chested shape of Wilson Palacios, and the Scott Brown rumours suggest that ‘Arry is looking elsewhere for an understudy. Do-do-do Didier is unlikely to want to stick around as fourth-choice right-back either, so it appears that the elusive goal will, like the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, remain tantalisingly unseen.
Exit Potential: 7
Who Would Buy Him? Monaco, Nancy. Or Wigan.

Jamie O’ Hara
Full-blooded, bulldog-spirit, never-say-die, heart-on-his-sleeve and other such tedious clichés are all well and good, but the scales tip rather heavily towards graft over natural skill with young Three-Touch O’ Hara. Not that I’d like to see the back of him – far from it. His energy, bite and left-footedness are valuable commodities in the Tottenham midfield, and his introduction vs Burnely in the Carling Cup, and goal vs West Ham, were indications of what he brings to the team. However, he is on this list because the Lennon-Palacios- Modric-A.N.Other midfield will leave little scope for regular starts, and this young man’s feet may soon start to itch.
Exit Potential: 5
Who Would Buy Him? Sunderland, Wolves

Giovani dos Santos
Would love to have seen him given a chance – Giovani left, and Modders in the centre would have been interesting – but ‘Arry doesn’t seen to fancy him, and he was apparently one fax away from joining Pompey in the January transfer window. Having all drooled over the Barca way in midweek, it seems a shame to let a Nou Camp alumnus wander merrily out the exit door, but such is the Tottenham way.
Exit Potential: 9
Who Would Buy Him? Villarreal, Deportivo. Or Ipswich.

 

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Kaka for £100 million, Adriano for Bale… All-Action-No-Plot Transfer Talk

What the blazes? For the last couple of weeks the January transfer window has provided a view into a serene and rather bland British landscape, with the return of Jermain Defoe the best on offer, and other gossip being limited to moves for the likes of James Beattie and Dean Windass. Within the last 24 hours however, the window has turned into a portal into the All-Action-No-Plot universe, as the football world and everything in it has suddenly become completely mental.

Kaka to Man City for £100 million? Adriano on loan to Spurs from Inter – with Gareth Bale going the other way? Pick your jaw up from the floor, for I jest ye not – these are the rumours doing the rounds today. And they’re not just rumours either – representatives have been holding clandestine meetings. Clandestine meetings! Actual negotiations are taking place!Kaka 

 

However, this isn’t Lucas Neill or Cashley Cole we’re talking about – this is Kaka. Filthy lucre is not going to turn the head of this man, not even the brain-frying sum of £250k per week. (Per fricking week!!!). This is a man who famously wore a t-shirt proclaiming that he belonged to Jesus. This is a man who gives one tenth of his weekly wage to charidee, and who probably spends his spare time helping to build orphanages for one-legged, rabid kids in the world’s poorest countries.

Kaka currently plies his trade alongside Maldini, Ronaldinho, Gattuso, Beckham, Pato and Inzaghi. On offer is the prospect of weekly shuttle runs alongside Micah Richards, Darius Vassell and Stephen Ireland (actually, that Ireland is pretty slick, but you get the point). One suspects that even sums of money so large they need to be delivered to his pad in a wheelbarrow each week might not be enough to lure him away from the San Siro. 

 

Adriano – Bale 

 

However, I suspect he’s better than Fraizer Campbell and poor old Darren Bent, and as such I’d welcome him, particularly on a loan deal. It’s the Gareth Bale part of this rumour that has me desperately grasping for some semblance of reality. Adriano for Bale? Who dreamt that one up?

Inter boss Jose Mourinho presumably is thinking of the Gareth Bale from the start of last season, the all-action-no-plot teenage left-back with a burst of pace and an eye for goal. He’s clearly unaware of the amazing regression that has taken place, Darwinism in reverse, that sees the lad quiver every time the ball goes near him and time his tackles with all the nous of a blind giraffe on stilts.

Still, if Inter are willing, why not? And why stop there – let’s see who else they want to trade. Jenas for Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Bentley for Javier Zanetti? Three-Touch O’ Hara for Cambiasso? Bale for Adria- oh wait, hang on a moment…

(Amidst all this madness, spare a thought for Darren Bent. Having had barely a sniff last season, he became first choice at the start of this campaign, only to be left out to dry in a 4-5-1, then saw Pavluychenko arrive, followed by Defoe, with ‘Arry now in talks for another striker. Bent must wonder what he’s done in a previous life, or who is manufacturing the voodoo dolls in his image. Knowing his luck, next time he walks out of the tunnel at the Lane a grand piano will probably fall out of the sky and land on him. Poor blighter).

Spurs bid rejected for nice-guy Bellamy

‘Arry may have a good reputation in the transfer market, but I’m not sure that Craig Bellamy was what I wanted to pull out of my Christmas stocking.

As I indicated when waving goodbye to Paul Stalteri lsat week, being a nice guy has precious little to do with footballing ability. I nevertheless have my misgivings about Bellamy, the very antithesis of a “nice guy”, a man so charming that when on a team-bonding trip to Spain in his Liverpool days, he attacked a team-mate with a golf-club. The loveable rogue. Further evidence of Bellamy’s troublesome character is that he’s had about 45 different clubs during his 10-or-so-year career. Not sure that’s the sort of influence one would want in a dressing-room, although if he’s happy to lamp David Bentley for lack of effort it might not be a bad thing.

In terms of footballing ability he has his attributes – having played for both Liverpool and Newcastle he is undeniably a good striker at Premiership level, with pace to burn and an eye for goal, and he’s also eligible for Europe, which is handy in the absence of the cup-tied Pav.

A huge signing is unlikely in January, so cut-price strikers from hard-up clubs (Bellamy, or Crouch or Defoe at Pompey) or strikers on winding-down contracts (Owen, Hesky) would probably be top of ‘Arry’s attacking shopping list. Those eligible for Europe would be particularly keenly sought, which might rule out the Pompey pair.

The £6 mil bid for Bellamy is only the opening gambit in what is certain to be a highly entertaining transfer puppet show, particularly with ‘Arry pulling the strings. Who knows what our squad will look like a month down the line?

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