All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Sunderland 3-1 Spurs: Ruing The Stoke/Wolves/Hull Games

Never mind Saturday’s match, the games I find myself looking ruefully back upon are those at home to Stoke, Wolves and Hull, way back in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Oh for those eight points now…Back to the Sunderland game, and something of a whimper with which to finish the five-game winning streak. With Sergeant Wilson passed fit and Defoe back in the squad, history will probably suggest that we ought to have fared a little better, but the first-minute goal completely befuddled our heroes, who appeared to spend the following 44 minutes just trying to stagger through to half-time. That first half was not far short of total gubbins, our lot trundling round with lead in their boots and a vacuum between the ears. While the Sunderland brigade were all over us like a rash every time we had possession, when roles were reversed we carefully kept a five-yard distance from them whenever the ball was at the feet of one of their number. Ignominy duly ensued.

The second half at least saw the Urgency and Inventiveness dials turned up a few notches, but let’s face it, clawing back two-goal deficits has never really been our forte. We can certainly throw away a two-goal advantage in some style, but I’m not sure anyone believed there was any way back at 2-0 down. All the more frustrating then that, having survived numerous Darren Bent penalties, Kenwyne Jones’ quite spectacular air-kick and the disallowed Ferdinand goal, we pulled one back and looked to have the momentum for an unlikely comeback. Hopes thus raised, they were duly dashed by the concession of that third goal, from straight out of the Van Basten scrapbook.

A Brief AANP Analysis of the Spot-Kicks

First penalty – A little unfortunate for the boy Walker, given that the ball flew at him at around 100 miles per hour, but his arm was away from his body, and as such the decision was understandable.

Second penalty – Ill-advised of Modders to leave his leg a-dangling like that in the area, but by jiminy Fraizer Campbell threw himself over it with some gusto.

Thrid penalty – Again, ill-advised of Sergeant Wilson to dive in thus, for any sliding challenge inside the area has to be pretty immaculately timed – but there really did not appear to be much in the challenge.

That said, Crouch’s hands appeared to be on the defender’s shoulders when he leapt for our goal. No complaint from the Sunderland mob, but I’ve certainly seen our beanpole penalised for that sort of leverage technique in the past.

Elsewhere On The Pitch 

All things told it was a pretty miserable day’s work. Curses. Five wins and a defeat from our last six games remains a decent record, but it’s not really about past form any more is it? Six games remain, and this is turning into a straight shoot-out with Man City, whose thrashing of Burnley smeared salt into the wound by denting our goal difference advantage. For added flavour it now looks increasingly like we need to win at least one of the games against l’Arse and Chelski. If we do make fourth we will have ruddy well earned it.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses this Thursday (8th April), from 12.30pm, at Waterstones Leadenhall Market, City of London.(If you can’t make this, fret ye not – further signings by Mabbutt will take place:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm)

  

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

 

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

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.

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