All Action, No Plot

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"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

Man City – Spurs Preview: It’s The Hope That Kills Me…

“It’s not the despair, I can take the despair; it’s the hope that kills me…”As a long-time Spurs-supporting chum put it to me yesterday, we’re not built for this sort of thing. Let-downs and heartbreaks we can deal with, but this business of every single blasted game coming loaded with significance is just too much to take. At any rate it’s almost upon us now, arguably the biggest showdown since Godzilla and King Kong went head to head. I’m not sure I can bear to watch.  

After the season we have had I would be deeply suspicious if we went into our most crucial game with a clean bill of health, so it is only appropriate that we are sweating on the fitness of Ledley and Gomes. Without wanting to tempt fate I think the boy Bassong is a pretty able deputy at centre-back; as for the boy Alnwick… well, let’s just hope that Gomes pulls through.

Central midfield, as ever, provides a selection poser. AANP would stick with Modders and Hudd, but I presume ‘Arry will accommodate Sergeant Wilson somehow, and shove Modders wide right or left. All sorts of head-hurting permutations then follow (Bale left-back? BAE right-back?) but if nothing else we at least have the enticing prospect of Palacios giving Viera a good mauling, something which seems about 15 years overdue.

Elsewhere we just need to close our eyes and pray that nobody fluffs their lines. Kaboul (or BAE) will need to be Jekyll rather than Hyde against the dastardly Craig Bellamy; lilywhites the world over will be imploring Bale and Lennon to go forth and prosper on their respective flanks; and Defoe, Pav and chums blinking well need to adjust their radars, because tonight is not the night to roll out that everywhere-but-the-net routine.

I genuinely think that watching this game might actually kill me. Deep breath. Godspeed, fellas.

Luke-Warm Transfer Gossip – Palacios In, Jenas Out?

Since picking up a troublesome back injury last year, I seem to have lost a yard of pace, and as a result I’ve rather struggled to keep up with the transfer gossip this window. However, it takes more than the imminent onset of paralysis to stop me from moaning about Spurs, so here for your visual delectation is the most comprehensive guide to transfer rumours at N17 on any site called All Action, No Plot:Kenwyne Jones (Sunderland): Levy’s transfer policy seems pretty simple: pick a half-decent player, double his realistic value, add £5 million – by this time you’re likely to be waving a cheque for £15 million at the chairman of an occasional Premiership club – and hey presto! After 16 mil for Bent, 15 mil for Pav, 15 mil for Bentley and 15 mil for Defoe we’ve now had a 10 mil bid for Jones turned down, with eavesdroppers reckoning that 15 mil should be enough. Sigh. I don’t spend every spare minute studying the form of random Premiership players, but if Jones were really so special he’d be setting the goalscoring charts alight/a household name/sought after by the big four/all of the above.

 

Wilson Palacios (Wigan): Another one in the magic £15 mil bracket, but merrily this guy has been eyed by Man Utd and Real Madrid – which makes him a darn sight better than Bent or Bentley. Rumour has it that he might be the holding midfielder we’ve been crying out for since the dawn of man, but I know better than to get my hopes up, and fully expect him to materialise as a worse version of Didier Zokora, should he sign. The guy’s autobiography is truly all-action-no-plot, with his 15 year-old brother having been kidnapped and held up for ransom in his native Honduras, poor blighter. Might well be a Spurs player by the time you read this.Stephen Appiah (free agent): Earlier this week I read that Appiah had completed his medical… and returned home. What the blazes? What the hell sort of denoument is that? That’s like watching two hours of Terminator 2, getting to the bit when the evil Terminator corners Sarah Connor in the steelworks factory… and then she wakes up. It would have been a rubbish ending. However, it turned out not to be the ending at all, as Appiah has reportedly reappeared at the Lane to partake in more training sessions and practice matches. Free transfer, which will disappoint Levy, who won’t be able to dish out a further £15 mil.

Craig Bellamy (West Ham): With Man City dithering over whether to go for Bellamy or Kaka, it appears Spurs might yet swoop in for the loveable golf-club-wielding cherub, leaving the red-faced northerners with no option but to splash out on the best Brazilian since Pele. Hahaha, that’ll learn ’em.

Stewart Downing (Middlesborough): Mediocre? Worth not much more than £5 mil? Then Spurs will bid £15 mil for him. I celebrated like we’d won the Carling Cup when I heard that Boro were refusing to let him go. Be warned however – the transfer window still has two weeks to run, so with a dip of his right shoulder and dart out to the left young Downing could yet be heading to the High Road. Would rather stick Three-Touch O’Hara or even Gareth Bale out left for the rest of the season, and then pursue Joe Cole in the summer.

Antonio Valencia: Hmmm, yes, another right winger. Exactly what we need. Smart thinking chaps.

And possibly going the other way…

Jermaine Jenas: Huzzah! How wonderful it is to wake of a morning and, for a change, be greeted by news headlines bearing glad tidings. The report of the successful plane landing on the Hudson River was indeed such positive news, but barely compares to the best rumour of the millenium – that Jermaine Jenas could be on his way out of Spurs. Could it be true? Well, let’s not kill the fattened calf just yet – it seems efforts to add him as a makeweight in any of the above deals have stalled, as none of the clubs in question want him. If only these clubs were managed by any of the Spurs and England managers of the past five years, he’d be an automatic starter… Maybe I do Jenas an injustice here – his effort and attitude has always been admirable, and he was a key component of the team that dismantled l’Arse and Chelski in winning the Carling Cup. He’s still gut-wrenchingly awful though, and his departure from the Lane would make the all-action-no-plot universe a better place.

Darren Bent: Bless him, he can earnestly bleat on all he likes about getting his head down and making the most of his chances, but he’ll never cut it at the Lane. More likely to be mentioned in the same breath as Postiga and Raziak than Greaves and Lineker, it seems that Levy will pretend the whole £16 mil thing never happened, and just chuck him in as a sweetener for Jones or Bellamy, or someone. Worth sticking a fiver on to score against us at some point in 2009.

 

This article also appears on the cracking Spurs blog The Proud Cockerel: http://www.clubfanzine.com/tottenham_hotspur/index.php

‘Arry at the January sales

With the honeymoon over, the side struggling and reinforcements seemingly needed in every position, all-action-no-plot casts a wary eye over a handful of ‘Arry’s (supposed) shopping list…

Stewart Downing (Left winger, ‘Boro, £8-£12 mil) – Yegads ‘Arry, don’t do it! I’ve only ever seen him play well once (Eng vs Germany). He’s naturally left-footed, and as such would balance our midfield, but so is our Welsh simian Gareth Bale. Save around £10 mil and give Bale a chance. And encourage the midfielders to get into the area before investing in another crosser…

Craig Bellamy (Striker, West Ham, £6 – £8 mill) – Wrote on this one yesterday, and my opinion hasn’t changed overnight. Good striker, but a walking asbo, who has never settled at a club due, presumably, to his penchant for attacking team-mates with golf clubs.

Shay Given (Goalkeeper, Newcastle, Maybe £3 mil?) – Tempting, but this is like heading to the supermarket when hungry, and consequently buying food you just don’t need. Gomes is doing fine at the moment.

Lassana Diarra (Defensive midfielder, Real Madrid, £20 mil) – Out of stock.

Jermaine Defoe (Striker, Pompey, £10 mil give or take) – Pompey may sell if the debt stories are true, and the lad certainly knows the route to goal, but ineligibility for Europe might be offputting. Can’t really see it happening, much as I’d love to.

Peter Crouch (Striker, Pompey, £10 mil give or take) – ‘Arry bought him at Pompey, and might be tempted by a goalscoring target-man. Again, ineligible for Europe.

Emile Heskey (Striker, Wigan, £3 mil or less, as his contract’s running down) – Hardly a proven goalscorer, but has, over the last 12 months shown an ability to hold up the ball and buy time for languid supporting midfielders to amble into the area. Exactly what we need then.

Matthew Upson (Centre-back, West Ham, £6 mil or so) Only likely if West Ham are forced into a Woollies-style closing-down sale. Their chairman is Icelandic, so this may indeed happen. With King and Woodgate falling apart, and Corluka ineligible in Europe, we could do with a reliable centre-back.

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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