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Man City 0-1 Spurs: Gold Stars and Back-Slaps

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”So said the cake-making chap, but I make no apologies for the fact that I treat the two rather differently. Almost every Spurs-supporting day of my life has been spent meeting with disaster – cursing or stomping, or at the very least shrugging philosophically. And then for the first 80 minutes last night the priority was just to avoid throwing up, as Tottenham did what Tottenham do and the agony of it all made my stomach fold in on itself.

Today, however, it’s triumph alright, and you can spot the Spurs fans a mile off for the great big beaming grins. Here at AANP Towers it’s taken the best part of 24 hours to float gently back down to earth, a process still not quite complete.

Champions League. Where the world’s best play one-twos, and clubs are given squillions of pounds just for having a half-time break.

Champions League, baby!

Alright, there’s a qualifying whatsit in August, but let’s worry about that later (hell, let’s finish third and remove the qualifier from the equation). Lest you be waiting for some objective assessment and reasoned debate, I might as well point out that it ain’t going to happen, not round these parts. Not today. The mood at AANP Towers is still very much tip-a-bucket-of-ice-cold-water-on-your-boss-and-laugh-at-him-in-yer-underwear.

Playing For A Draw 

These are changed times I tell ye. In the last 20 years or so The Tottenham Way™ has been about salvaging ignominy from the jaws of glory, about keeping a loaded pistol close at hand in order to guarantee a means of shooting oneself in the foot at a moment’s notice. This current bunch however, is a different breed. With scant regard for the traditions forged over 20-plus years of false dawns and spectacular implosions, this lot have made a habit of delivering top-notch performances with the pressure on. Slick in possession; razor-sharp on the counter-attack; and organized throughout when not in possession – it’s so good to watch I would support us even if I didn’t support us, if you follow.

Gold Stars and Back-Slaps 

Crouch’s well-meaning but often mediocre performances have had the denizens of AANP Towers howling in frustration at various points this season, but last night he ruddy well delivered. Where previously some queried how he managed to snare Abby Clancy, now every Tottenham fan – man, woman and child – openly professes their love for the gangly maestro. With a laudable sense of timing he saved his best performance in a Spurs shirt for our most important game in years, winning nigh on everything that was lobbed up at him (credit too to Defoe, for a determined stab at that whole business of puffing up the chest, sticking out the backside and holding up the ball). There is a fair amount of air-space between Crouch’s quiff and his size fifteens, so whenever he tried to bring down the ball it typically happened in a number of installments, and via various hops and skips and jabbing of his pointy limbs. Yet if a City player tried to interrupt the procedure, he managed to produce another giant appendage, and kept doing this until the ball eventually hit the deck, and one of his chums arrived in support. All that, and the most important goal we’ve scored in years. Peter Crouch, AANP salutes thee.

Modders and Hudd are fast becoming the greatest mismatched double-act since B.A. and Murdock. Neither is exactly a born tackler, but they have managed to turn us into a team that no longer needs a central midfield tackler – which at White Hart Lane is pretty much tantamount to alchemy. They just scurry back in position whenever we lose the ball, and politely refuse entry to any young upstart trying to barge their way through to our penalty area. Once the ball is back in their grasp the fun begins, these two possessing technique and passing constructed from the very DNA of Tottenham Hotspur FC.

At the back, Kaboul’s astonishing flirtation with amazingness continues, while Gomes duly delivered the now customary three world-class saves. I am a tad worried that King and Dawson will imminently be exposed by FIFA as gods, masquerading as mere mortals kicking footballs, and we will be deducted 10 points as a result; but until then I continue to watch in awe, and offer small, symbolic sacrifices by way of thanks.

Mature, disciplined, creative, confident – it sure as hell didn’t resemble many of the Spurs teams I’ve watched over the last couple of decades, and yet now it happens every week, against the best teams in the country. Last night was supposed to be our cue to choke; instead we reached the Champions League. I still can’t quite believe it. Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.


Talk Champions League With Gary Mabbutt! 

Apologies for the shameless plug, but Saturday is the last chance to catch Gary Mabbutt signing copies of Spurs’ Cult Heroes. Previous sessions have indicated that the man is a true gent, and more than happy to stop and talk Tottenham with the fans. The session begins at 1pm, at Waterstones Walthamstow (26 Selborne Walk, London E17 7JR). 


Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at, 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

Spurs preview

Spurs – West Ham Preview: Cheer Up Chaps

Well this is awkward. Somehow this week I find myself in the unusual, and to be honest, plain uncomfortable position of having to raise everyone else’s spirits. This is foreign territory. Generally more at ease as a pessimistic misanthrope.However, a curious role-reversal now sees me rather looking forward to the season finale. Meanwhile Spurs fans all around me have been sighing melancholy sighs and eyeing steep cliffs over which they might hurl themselves.

The reason seems to be one bad match – in fact, one bad ten-minute spell. Seems strange to me, but the ten-minute meltdown against Blackburn has got Spurs fans tripping over themselves to write off our season and slap the wrists of anyone who cheerfully drops the phrase “European qualification” into conversation.

Curious this, as it’s usually the reverse – i.e. it’s normally one good ten-minute spell, which has us all screeching away about Champions League qualification. For whatever reason though, it’s been sackcloth and ashes this week rather than deluded optimism. The defeat to Blackburn has deflated the masses.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Galling though it was, the Blackburn defeat did not strike me as a return to the bad old (not so old, really) days of widespread sloppiness and a marshmellow-soft spine. I honestly think that if we keep playing like we did against Blackburn we’ll do fairly well in the last few games. Beginning on Saturday at home to West Ham, who currently occupy the seventh spot we should be eyeing.

Admittedly, should we lose on Saturday  we’ll be nine points off the pace with six to play – it will be game over. Win it though, and we’ll be three points off Europe with six to play. Game on, n’est-ce pas?

The Blackburn finale aside, our recent league form has been mighty impressive – four wins, two draws and good performances. Add to that 70 or so good minutes against Blackburn, and we actually remain one of the form teams in the division.

Moreover, our competitors for seventh are hardly the giants of contemporary European football – Wigan, Fulham and Man City, as well as West Ham. Achieving seventh would not mean punching particularly high above our weight, if at all, as this motley crew are all liable to stumble a couple of times en route to the finish line. This is more of a scrap to be less bad than several other harmless mid-table drifters – seventh is a fairly realistic aim, particularly if we can win on Saturday.

So I’m therefore quite perky about the prospect of this end-of-season run-in, even if every time I say as much the music stops and tumbleweed rolls by.

Reasons To Be Depressed

Mind you, it hardly takes much effort to slip back into pessimistic mode. For a start, as well as costing us three points last weekend, that wretched second yellow card for Palacios means he’s suspended for this Saturday. Replacing him would be like trying to replace Mr T as B.A. – there just isn’t anyone else cut out for the role. With no B.A around, Face Man (Modders) will find it a lot harder to pull, if you don’t mind me wandering a little off-course with the analogy.

Presumably do-do-do Dider will take the place of Palacios, but although they start the game on roughly the same patch of turf, Zokora and Palacios are vastly different beasts. We should therefore not expect too much midfield enforcing from the Ivorian, who rather prefers a long meandering gallop to a raw-leg dinner in the centre . I guess it will be a useful exercise, as Palacios’ penchant for a tasty challenge is likely to bring him his fair share of cautions, and therefore suspensions, in the future. There will be more days like this. Gives some food for thought as the summer transfer window creeps up.

Not quite sure how West Ham have found themselves in seventh. Last time I bothered to check they were in a bit of a mess down the rear-end of the division, with Zola’s beaming pearly whites firmly locked behind a worried frown. Now they’re in pole position for the last European spot. Madness, I tell you.

As mentioned, win this one and we’ll be right back in the hunt for Europe. Plenty to play for.