All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

Spurs 1-0 Palace: Four Lilywhite Musings

A new season, and to all intents and purposes the same serving of near-incessant pressure against a well-drilled defensive mob – but we at AANP Towers are nothing if not eagle-eyed, and the subtle differences being paraded to the masses yesterday did not escape detection.

There was the giant hole in the stadium for a start, which those with less keen powers of observation might simply have overlooked, or dismissed as one of those things that happens during the summer months. And then there were the moderate but unmistakeable tweaks to various knobs and dials that Pochettino had effected in advance of proceedings. For a start we tumbled out onto the pitch with a Dele Alli-shaped hole in the midfield; and with Kane now occupying a more withdrawn role; while Janssen swanned around atop the formation. Changes so delicate that many would have failed to notice, but the AANP detective squad were all over them, every sense atuned and sinew strained.

1. Janssen’s Home Debut

Football observers of a particularly wily vintage will tell you that mid-August is no time to be flinging around judgements of new signings. The Test series has only just ended, the Olympians are still just about aiming faster, higher and whatnot – give the big-money signing another five minutes at least to catch his breath and re-read his notes.

So the distinctive whiff emanating from AANP Towers is not judgement, or any particular doubt about the new lad’s ability, but simply fear. The unmistakeable fear of the Spurs fan who has watched on over the years, as the shiny and rather pricey new bounder takes to the field in attack, and proceeds to fluff his lines. Postiga, Bent, Soldado – all men who arrived at the Lane looking bucked and full of the joys, and with good reason too, because all were, in their own ways, rather nifty in one medium or other. But somehow things simply did not fall into place in front of goal, and now if one closes the eyes and tiptoes down Memory Lane, the first dashed image that springs to mind is the pained look of disbelief shared by each of Messrs Postiga, Bent and Soldado (typically accompanied by hands raised headwards) as yet another chance flew left, or right, or into the ‘keepers arms, or into the side netting, or into orbit – frankly any dashed place but the net.

One shudders. And one certainly does not judge Janssen, because in truth he seems a decent sort of bean when kitted out in lilywhite, ticking such boxes as “Laudable Movement”, “Lay-Offs Weighted Just So” and “Robust Sort of Blighter”. So if anything, the judgement is that the chap does indeed appear to cross enough t’s and dot enough i’s to give Kane five minutes every now and then to catch his breath and swig an isotonic whatsit.

But the fear remains, because the chap dashed well needs to beg, steal or borrow a goal at some point soonish, or the thing will start weighing on his mind, what? The chance last week he tucked into well enough, but the ‘keeper thrust out a paw and such was life. With the first chance yesterday – the rebound from Kane’s effort – again one could hardly quibble that he failed to get the basics right or suchlike, but life being what it is the ball stayed out.

It was the final chance, through on goal in the second half, which really brought the first sense of fear my way. Clean through, defenders politely stepping aside, net beckoning warmly. The thing only required him to sign on the dotted line, but instead he channelled the spirit of a thousand Bents or Soldados. The major concern is that if he goes without a goal for any length of time the issue might begin to gnaw away at him, as can happen to a blighter with a thing on his mind, and before you know it he has packed his bags and shuffled off with tears in his eyes, and his friends turn to each other and say “What the deuces happened to him, he seemed rather a sharp old nut?”

However, with a bit of luck he’ll casually bang home a couple next time out, and we can all live happily ever after.

2. Kane’s New Home

Should any defence be needed of young Master Janssen, one might point out that Kane has not exactly been pelting them in from all angles so far this season either.

Yesterday, our glorious leader took the fairly radical measure of deploying two in attack, with Kane playing Sheringham to Janssen’s Shearer. Given that this was a home match against a team whose drill was always likely to be sit back, lap the thing up and hope for a handy bolt of lightning from above or some other such stroke of luck, the Two-In-Attack gambit made a truckload of sense, so Pochettino duly receives an approving nod.

And to his credit, Kane seemed to roll through proceedings like a man pretty well versed in the art (not entirely surprisingly, given that he has dabbled in it before). Yesterday was not necessarily a masterclass, but he rolled up his sleeves and ferried things around like a well-trained hound, and did not scrimp when it came to blasting the bally thing towards goal with everything he could muster.

A couple of shots from distance, plus a header narrowly wide, suggested that here was a man whose lust for life was not diminished by his new set of responsibilities – and for good measure he rallied round just when things appeared to be slipping away, to nod the thing goalwards for Wanyama to pop it in.

3. Dele Alli

No doubt about it, one or two tongues wagged pre kick-off yesterday, when news of Dele Alli’s demotion rippled around, but the truth of thing was rather more mundane than some would have had us believe. The poor lamb had been under the weather, nothing more sinister.

Nevertheless, news that he was only on the bench was generally greeted with a considered and approving nod around these parts. This season promises to be quite the ordeal, with European concerns now to be treated as meaningful rather than a chance for the reserves to parade their wares. At some point or other, our heroes will need to be omitted, and at home to Palace seems as reasonable a time as any.

As it happened, when he was finally introduced, Alli’s impact was a credit to the NHS, because the chap seemed to be in rude health. The pass to Janssen for the second half chance was masterfully delivered, and later on he let fly with a shot that earned top marks for technique and aesthetics, if falling short by a whisker or two in the accuracy stakes.

4. Life Without Dembele

A congratulatory word for Victor Wanyama, who looked suitably braced with his efforts, and why not? Wanyama certainly applies himself with the sort of rigour that one likes to see from the stands, and which one hopes sends a message to the chums either side of him that there is something to be said for getting stuck in and giving it what for.

It is probably fair to say that he does not quite replicate the role of Dembele, in terms of acting as marauder par excellence, but that’s not really the point. I’m not sure that another man exists in Christendom who can replicate the Dembele role. Wanyama offers a different sort of basket of eggs, and it is a dashed useful one to have, and certainly a notch up on the alternatives (Carroll, Mason and the like).

Dembele will presumably be welcomed back into the fold with open arms and a hearty embrace once his sentence is served; but bear in mind that whenever he was absent last season, we more or less folded like a pack of cards on a blustery day at the seafront. This time round we have a win and a draw without him already, so let this be a ringing endorsement for squad reinforcement.

A solid start then, and already an improvement on this time last season. To have achieved this without two of the more influential souls in the line-up (Lloris and Dembele), and having fairly successfully integrated a couple of new faces, bodes jolly well.

Shameless Plug Alert – AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, continues to retail at Amazon and Waterstones, hint hint

Spurs – Sunderland Preview: Consecutive Wins? Why The Devil Not?

One point, three games. Generally the solution at AANP Towers when things are not quite tickety-boo is to drink plenty of water and wait it out. In extreme circumstances we have even been known to chew on some raw garlic. However, something a little more drastic will probably be required from our heroes tonight, to shake them from the alarming torpor that characterized Saturday’s performance.

 

Things have gone so wildly awry in the league that we are now level on points with Liverpool, who I’m pretty sure were about to sack their manager and explode in a ball of flames a moment ago. There is nevertheless a salutary lesson to be gleaned from their fortunes, in providing evidence of the wholesome benefits of a string of consecutive victories. Three wins on the bounce has Liverpool back in contention for the top four; we now find ourselves playing host to Sunderland and Blackburn within the space of a week, a double-header that suggests that if we play our cards right by Saturday night we could find ourselves breathing down the necks of those rotters from l’Arse and Man City once again.

 

Team News

 

No Aaron Lennon, which suggests that Niko Kranjcar or David Bentley might be invited to watch in awe as Alan Hutton goes surging beyond them on the right. If fit, VDV and Hudd will presumably return to central midfield, while I imagine Jeans has also risen up the midfield pecking-order, simply by virtue of not being Palacios or Sandro; and Pav for Crouch is the logical but by no means certain alteration in attack.

 

It appears that Darren Bent is absent for the other lot tonight – bad news for my Fantasy League team, but good news from a lilywhite perspective, as Bent, like Kevin Davies, is one of those types who always seems rather likely to find our net one way or t’other. This means that the dashed exciting Asamoah Gyan ought to be in action for Sunderland tonight, representing another useful test for Younes Kaboul. I am beginning to grow quite fond of the boy Kaboul. He blinking well needs to iron out those lapses in concentration – sliced clearances and whatnot – but it’s nice to see someone big, strong and quick on the prowl in our defence. As that evil Emperor chap noted of Darth Vader when he was still a fiendishly annoying young whippersnapper, I shall watch his career with interest.

 

With the Champions League anthem removed from the playlist for the next week or two I have supreme confidence in our heroes tonight, and indeed on Saturday. A return to our daring, doing best ought to do the trick, for when our lot start to purr, particularly at the Lane, few sides in Christendom can live with us.

 

 

 

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

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: Will Another 12 Points Be Enough?

Not exactly sure what the lyrics are to the Champions League anthem (the telly-box at AANP Towers can only ever pick up unspecifiable high-pitched warbling, until that final chorus of “The Chaaaaaampions”) but while watching this midweek’s shenanigans, AANP dreamt the dream – the dream that next season I would not just try to fathom the lyrics from the comfort of my living-room, but actually at the Lane. Just imagine hearing that music blare out in our own little corner of North London. Imagine looking on with pride as our lot are torn to shreds by the cream of Europe. Admittedly we would need to negotiate Shakhtar or someone in the August qualifying round first, but the dream remains – a couple of months hence, it really could be us…12 Points?

‘Arry’s walking wounded have seven games left, and even AANP has entered into the fun and games of calculating potential points totals for the season’s end. Although the specifics are up for debate, my complex scientific methodology – involving the fingers and thumbs of both hands – estimates that around another 12-13 points ought to be enough.

Us (58 points)
Sunderland (a)
Arse (h)
Chelski (h)
Man Utd (a)
Bolton (h)
Citeh (a)
Burnley (a)

Citeh (56 points)
Burnley (a)
Birmingham (h)
Man Utd (h)
l’Arse (a)
Villa (h)
Us (h)
West Ham (a)

Liverpool (54 points)
Birmingham (a)
Fulham (h)
West Ham (h)
Burnley (a)
Chelski (h)
Hull (a)

Realistically, we should take six points from Bolton and Burnley; one more (at least) from City away; goodness only knows what the l’Arse-Chelksi-Utd triple-whammy will produce – but could we grab three more tomorrow?

In theory a win at Sunderland seems a manageable task, if a little tricky, but with the absentee list now including (deep breath) Dawson, Corluka, King, Woodgate, Lennon, Hudd, Jenas and quite possibly Palacios, AANP will personally hand a medal to somebody somewhere if we toddle back from the Stadium of Light with a nice shiny victory to our name.

Team News 

The midfield, potentially comprising Bale, Modders, Kranjcar and Bentley, ought to possess just enough technique and trickery to hold on to possession for the entire 90 minutes – handy, as there is not a ball-winner in sight. Fingers crossed that Sergeant Wilson’s abductor strain clears up by 3pm, but the prognosis, apparently, is not particularly rosy. If any of that midfield four knows how to tackle, tomorrow would be a marvellous time to give a few demonstrations.

All cobbled together rather hastily then, but in attack at least our cup runneth over, with Defoe now fit to join his three chums. AANP wonders if ‘Arry might be tempted to compensate for the lack of a midfield ball-winner by including Gudjohnsen in the starting line-up, to allow us to switch to 4-5-1 as necessary.

No time to feel sorry four ourselves about the injury-list – or indeed to congratulate ourselves on five successive wins. Tomorrow will not make or break the season, but the menality here at AANP Towers is that a team of Champions League standard ought to gain a draw at least from a trip to Sunderland. 

Gary Mabbutt Book Signing – Saturday 3rd April, 12pm, Waterstones Hemel Hempstead

Self-explanatory really – Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of

Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses this Saturday, from 12 noon, at Waterstones Hemel Hempstead. 

(If you can’t make this, fret ye not – further signings by Mabbutt will take place:Waterstones Leadenhall Market, City of London – Thursday 8 April 12.30pm;
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

Stoke 1 – 2 Spurs: We Like The Look Of That

It could still all go horribly wrong, but for the moment at least our lot continue to make all the right moves. The threatened second half implosion did not materialise, and instead, after a fourth consecutive League win, we now have to come to terms with the fact that our glorious heroes have discovered some consistency, of all things.BAE vs Corluka

It was hardly Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed, but Messrs Corluka and Assou-Ekotto were notably unimpressed with each other’s conduct in the second half. Apparently Charlie lumbered over to deliver a pointed critique of Benny’s positioning at a corner; the braided one appeared to suggest in reply that he go forth and multiply. Given BAE’s permanently glazed expression of a hired assassin, this was quite possibly a moment for which he had been waiting his whole life (although in a fist-fight to the death I think I would back the Croat). Excitingly, there was even a level of push-and-shove that would have had Didier Drogba hurtling to the turf and screaming like a baby, but our two heroes both walked away unscathed.

Much ado about nothing ultimately, but truth be told we at AANP Towers are secretly rather pleased by all this. Tottenham players have typically seemed a little too precious and delicate in recent years, rather than ready to roll up their sleeves and fight for the cause, often giving the impression that they care more about their next haircut or tattoo than the cockerel. The sight of juices flowing and blood boiling out there on the pitch therefore elicits a silent nod of approval. We like the look of that around these parts.

As an epilogue, ‘Arry’s comments on Benny make frankly hilarious reading, although I do rather wonder about the lad:

Benoit is a strange boy. He’s a bit highly strung and hardly speaks English. If you say something to him he’s hard work. He hasn’t improved his English in the couple of years he’s been here.”
[Asked why the player had walked off on his own, Redknapp replied:] “He didn’t know the result! He probably thought we’d drawn. He’ll turn up Wednesday and play great, but he won’t know we’re playing Fulham until someone tells him. That’s how he is. He’s unreal. He walks off and he’s thinking about the music he’s going to play when he puts his headphones on.”
 

It was a risky move, but resting Palacios and bringing in Younes Kaboul ultimately paid dividends. With Sergeant Wilson one booking away from suspension and Kaboul cup-tied, the latter took to the pitch yesterday, to ensure that Palacios will be available for the FA Cup game on Wednesday (keep up). The proof of the pudding was ultimately the result, and whatever the misgivings from various quarters about Kaboul’s ability as a midfielder, ‘Arry need not say a word, but can simply wave three points at all of us by way of justification.

Fourth Striker

In Gudjohnsen we may have the perfect fourth striker. Unlike, say, a younger tyro of the Darren Bent ilk, one gets the impression that Gudjohnsen is a darned sight more philosophical about starting regularly on the bench, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, back in the day. Not that this attitude would count for much of course, if he were complete bobbins once on the pitch, but as he demonstrated on Saturday he certainly seems to know his way around.

We at AANP Towers have been fond of likening him to Sheringham, but the strength he showed for his goal, in holding off the challenge of Faye (I think), followed by the clinical, powerful finish, was more akin to Shearer. He adds much-needed experience to a young squad, which suggests that he probably has something to contribute on the training-ground as well as the pitch, and on the evidence of the weekend can still be relied upon to produce the goods when called upon. If anything, yesterday’s performance suggested that he may merit elevation up the ladder to something higher than fourth-choice striker, but if remains the man to whom we turn in an emergency we can’t be doing too badly.

Another Week, Another Injury

This time Pav hobbled off stage left. All vaguely reminiscent of one of those action/horror films in which the cast are killed off one by one, in various gruesome ways, until Sigourney Weaver is left to sort things out in the final scene. That we have kept churning out wins with personnel dropping like flies is mightily impressive, and to do so on Saturday without King, Palacios, Lennon or Defoe, as well as various supporting cast-members, really is thigh-slappingly good. With a bit of luck the situation might soon ease, as Bentley is supposed to be nearing fitness, while Hudd is also reportedly progressing well. This gearing up to be one heck of a season finale.

 

AANP’s first book, 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). But never mind all that – the new trailer for Predators is now out, and it looks awesome. Have a butcher’s here.All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players 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. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson. 

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

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

Leeds 1-3 Spurs: The Reason For David Bentley’s Resurgence?

In between various planes and trains back from Morocco I managed to catch yesterday’s goings-on at Elland Road, and jolly heartening they were too. One of my brothers, for whom the rigours of parenthood mean that Spurs-watching is less frequently indulged in these days, texted afterwards to note that, as the first full Spurs game he has seen in around a year, he was pleasantly surprised by our performance. He has a point, for it was an all-round performance of the sort to which we have grown accustomed in recent months – general neatness in possession, while creating a healthy number of chances. It is perhaps easy to lose sight of this amidst the frustrations of umpteen missed chances and haemorrhaged Premiership points, but on the whole these days we play an extremely attractive brand of football, and progress over the last 12 months has been exceptional.Interesting to reflect on how the team has evolved even within the space of half a season, partly through accident and partly through design. Having shot out of the traps back in August with Modric, Keane, Lennon and BAE in the ranks, last night we eased through with Kranjcar, Bale and Bentley each looking impressive. Whisper it, but recent weeks have shown that there really is a degree of squad-depth there, albeit still with a few bad apples in the White Hart Lane barrel.

This article, forwarded to me today by a particularly highly-regarded Spurs-supporting chum, makes the point that much of our progress has been due simply to the improvement of quality, on a player-for-player basis, over the last year or two. To borrow from the article:

Jermain Defoe is a better version of Darren Bent, Wilson Palacios is a better version of Didier Zokora, and the Spurs boss feels that Gudjohnsen is a better version of Keane. 

Bentley’s attitude in recent weeks has been admirable. Cynics may suggest that his motivation is personal rather than team-oriented, and personally I reckon his lip has been quivering with rage ever since Kranjcar arrived to steal his crown as Team Pretty-Boy, but whatever the reason I hugely approve of his approach. He has put his head down, slapped on even larger amounts of hair-gel and worked hard, producing decent quality both when delivering crosses and when cutting infield. He is by no means the finished article, and the smart-money remains on him heading elsewhere in the summer, but it is good to see him rising to the challenge.

Defoe 

Statistics could probably be reeled out to counter the “flat-track bully” claim (and from memory I can pick his goal against Man Utd earlier this season and a harshly-disallowed goal at Anfield, as well as a blinding strike against l’Arse a few years ago as examples of strikes against the top-four) but the little drum I’ll bang here is that even if he is deemed no more than a tormentor of English football’s less-refined urchins this is nevertheless a mighty handy quality to have at a club with Top-Four and trophy aims. Long may it continue. Given our struggles this season against those sides we ought to be demolishing, the occasional Defoe hat-trick against a weak defence is quite welcome, and if the moniker best describing him is that of “flat-track bully” that elicits little more than a shrug.

Honourable Mentions 

 

Some of the others however, still appear stuck permanently within cruise control. He probably can’t help it, but by smiling and sticking out his tongue each time he misses a chance Crouch gives the impression that settling for second-best is not a problem. Tottenham players should be cursing, swearing and ready to kill with their bare hands when they miss chances or concede goals, and by golly they should be busting a gut to make sure it does not happen again. In short, we need to see them reacting on the pitch with the same passion we show in the stands.

Jenas

Really, what’s the point?

Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley

It was only Leeds, but it might have been a lot worse. Many Spurs teams of yore would have started timidly yesterday, given the venue and the weather, but to their credit our lot played well for all but the ten minutes or so prior to half-time. Removing foot from throttle after taking the lead does not rank too highly on the list of The World’s Greatest Sporting Ideas, but that aside it was a pretty professional performance. A nod of approval too for the none-too-subtle attitude towards closing out the game in the final minutes, all and sundry displaying a quite stoic determination to head for the corners and run the clock down. Bolton away is tricky but winnable – a description one might pin to the tournament as a whole.

 

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 

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 here

Spurs 2-0 Sunderland: Keane’s Contract & Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge

A curious one, this. Back in the days of yore, when Luka Modric limped off against Birmingham, I don’t think anyone foresaw things panning out quite this way. Robbie Keane undroppable, wingers treated like lepers, long-ball upon long-ball. We’re muddling through, but the sooner both the Croatian genius and Lennon return, the better.It’s A Legal Requirement 

Not that Keane is necessarily the fall-guy for the derby defeat last week – just about everyone was culpable that day, and any one of 11 could have been dropped. However, the 4-3-1-2 adopted by ‘Arry seemed at best a curious choice at kick-off. With Bentley, Bale and Kranjcar all left shivering on the bench, the various members of the White Hart Lane Detective Agency were each reaching the same conclusion – it was done to accommodate Keane.

I suppose that in ‘Arry’s head prior to kick-off it must have seemed a thing of genius – something like a midfield diamond, with Hudd pulling the strings at its base, and Keane working off the little-and-large front pair. On paper it had everything.

Wide-Boys

On grass unfortunately, it was an unsightly mess. The creative nous of Jenas, Hudd and Palacios extended to the all-too-familiar procession of long balls into orbit for the beanpole. As I craned my neck for the umpteenth time, the same point kept nagging away: why don’t we go wide? Alas, the question took me back to a scene from the cracking Red Dwarf

 

CAT: Why don’t we drop the defensive shields?
KRYTEN: A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don’t have any defensive shields, and two, we don’t have any defensive shields. Now I realise that, technically speaking, that’s only one flaw but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

To the left and right great swathes of turf lay unsullied by human feet, our wingers having been pointedly omitted altogether from the game-plan. The only semblance of width came from full-backs BAE and Charlie, neither of whom have ever exactly been fêted for their capacity to bomb up and down the flanks. With no genuine wingers on the pitch, too often we ended up back on board the long-ball train.A Gold Star To Our Match-Winner

Uninspiring stuff then. The early goal was a bonus (coming, incidentally, from a rare cross from the flanks) and we had reason to bow gratefully to the White Hart Lane woodwork.

Keane and Hudd are the names on the scoresheet, but make no mistake, Gomes was our match-winner. A penalty save makes for an obvious headline, but it was one of a number of cracking saves in each half, worth a couple of goals. If things aren’t clicking in midfield (and they rarely do at the moment, without Lennon and Modders) it’s mightily reassuring to know that that the last line of defence is on top of his game. What a difference a year makes.

Darren Bent’s Comedy Show Returns To The Lane 

Gloriously however, it was a return to the bad old days for Dazza. There are goals, and wins, but with all the history and pre-match hype, Gomes’ save from Bent’s penalty – and the mini-carnival it prompted in the stands – ranks as one of the highlights at the Lane so far this season.

Perhaps a little harsh on young Mr Bent to be tormented quite so mercilessly (references to Sandra Redknapp amongst those gleefully raining down after the penalty miss), given that he top-scored for us, rarely sulked and generally beavered away in lilywhite. Nevertheless, it was riotous fun, and after having seen Bent perfect the look of disbelief through numerous hopeless misses in lilywhite, it was most satisfying to see him strike that pose once more, in opposition colours.

Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge 

(It does not seem coincidence that no sooner do I resume the mockery of Monsieur Bent, then the AANP

Twitter account gets hacked, with spam fired off in all directions in the good name of AANP. Sincere apologies if you were one of those on the receiving end; the problem, I think, has been resolved.)

Crisis Over
The penalty save may have been the turning-point, but the half-time switch to more orthodox 4-4-2, followed by the introduction of Krancjar for Keane, also helped steady the good ship Tottenham. By the end of the game we were even putting together the occasional slick passing move.

And a random point of note – w

hat on earth is that party-trick Assou-Ekotto keeps showing off? The one where he leaps horizontally three feet in the air and scissor-kick volleys backwards? It’s very fancy, and actually turned out to be quite effective, just rather a bizarre sight.It’s the mark of a championship-winning team to win when not playing particularly well. This was not vintage Spurs, but the win hauls us out of our crisis (relax… I jest). The three points do keep us very much in the hunt for fourth, and performances will improve as our key attacking outlets return. While it is always exciting to see what whacky strategy will be deployed each week to make up for the absence of Modric, I think we’ll breathe easier once the little fella returns.

 

Apologies to all who received Twitter spam from AANP this week, after the account was hacked by computer-box deviants. AANP on Twitter here – now cleansed and refreshed – and the Spurs Cult Heroes – AANP Facebook fan group here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Spurs – Sunderland Preview: Are Tottenham A Club In Crisis?

Are we a club in crisis? While I hate to disappoint the doom-mongers and mischievous press-men, it is a little too hasty to go down that route just yet.Come the full-time whistle we ought to have a clearer idea of where we stand. Naturally, this being White Hart Lane, moderation is not welcome. Our fortunes tomorrow will swing wildly one way or t’other, either back on track to challenge the top four, or sliding irreversibly towards mid-table obscurity and worse. Such is life at the Lane.

We’re Doomed I Tell Ye, DOOMED 

Relax. We’re Fine. Chill, Winston. 

We’re not as good as the top three, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’re competing for fourth, and will continue to do so as long as we show that the Stoke defeat was an anomaly. Until Stoke we were generally picking up points against the mid-table/bottom-half teams, and this trend needs to be continued throughout the season and beginning tomorrow.

Good News From The Fixture-List 

AANP’s Prayer For Tomorrow

After the Stoke debacle, the prayer of choice being humbly offered heavenwards is that we score early tomorrow, or at least score first. Without Modric (and possibly Lennon) we lack the je ne sais quoi to unlock a deep-lying, packed defence set on gaining a point from first minute to last (see Stoke). Score an early goal however, and we’ll be laughing. Well, maybe not laughing – being Tottenham, we’ll find a way to complicate things – but at least scoring an early goal will allow us space and counter-attacking opportunities.

I therefore find myself hoping that Sunderland have a go at us, or at least resist the urge to set up two banks of four, and then just sit back and repel. Should they venture forward (and the chances of this are obviously exponentially increased if we get the first goal) there will be a bit of space behind them to exploit. They will henceforth become putty in our hands, and we shall toy with them. As flies are to wanton boys shall the trailing Sunderland be to counter-attacking Tottenham. Then the final whistle will go and we’ll all live happily ever after, for a fortnight.

Worst-Case Scenario

We Spurs fans have turned the Ludicrous-and-Disproportionate-Howl-of-Anguish-and-Baying-for-Blood into an art-form. Another insipid defeat tomorrow would be like releasing a coiled spring of vitriol, and the hills will be alive with the sound of calls for the whole team to be sold, ‘Arry’s coaching staff sacked and football destroyed forever.

Place Your Bets

Darren Bent will score, ‘tis written in the stars.

 

As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereY

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

Bent Flips, Defoe Arrested – Musings On An All-Action Week At Spurs

So, after several weeks in which dust has gathered and tumbleweed idly rolled around White Hart Lane, the last seven days have seen a welcome return to complete all-action-no-plot madness at Spurs, with Darren Bent’s glorious rant, a spell behind bars for Jermain Defoe, a big-money signing and even a trophy.It’s Always The Quiet Ones…

Seriously getting p***** off now. Why can’t anything be simple. It’s so frustrating hanging round doing jack s***. Do I wanna go Hull City NO. Do I wanna go stoke NO do I wanna go sunderland YES so stop f****** around, Levy.

However, the excruciating apology that went up on the club website a few hours later indicated that Bent had indeed turned green and burst out of his clothes. Crikey.

The incident reminded me of an occasion at school way back in the day, when a quiet, nerdy bespectacled kid suddenly losing the plot completely and out of the blue went mental at one of the teachers. It prompted a moment of complete shock amongst the staff (before they regained their senses and crucified the poor kid), and delight amongst us pupils, who thereafter viewed him in a new, vaguely awe-struck light.

Accordingly, I now have a new admiration for Bent and his gloriously ill-chosen unleashing of text-speak rage. I would also be intrigued to know what Hull and Stoke make of it all, given Bent’s pithy and unsubtle rejection of them as potential employers. In this politically-correct age of “no easy games” and other mind-numbing soundbites it’s been jolly entertaining to see a footballer dispense with the niceties.

And all this after he was yanked off a plane about to take off for China, which is itself rather exciting in an A-Team sort of way. Elsewhere, the bizarre soap-opera feel to the week at Spurs had Jermain Defoe stuck behind bars for a few hours (completely wrongfully I hasten to add). I half expect the coming week to bring a drugs-bust and gun-battle at Spurs Lodge.

(nb I should probably mention that AANP’s own rants at its employers can also be found on twitter, right about here.)

Transfers Bits And Pieces 

 

So, rather glad over here at AANP Towers that he’s likelier to end up at the ‘orrible lot down the road, but the whole issue does raise the point that we would probably benefit from an experienced, older head in the squad. Our squad could do with some leadership that goes beyond Robbie Keane’s frantic pointing and shouting.

With centre-backs dropping like flies there has been speculation a-plenty that we’ve waved a bag of ten million shiny nuggets at Newcastle for the boy Bassong, but ‘Arry, normally rather forthright about his transfer targets, has himself has denied this. One man who will most definitely be wearing lilywhite next season is ickle Peter Crouch. I have already opined on the subject this week – the nutshell version being that it’s unspectacular, but ought to benefit Defoe and is a fair enough price in the current market.

ASIA TROPHY CHAMPIONS – HUZZAH!!!! 

 

 

ooking for players who achieved legendary status amongst the fans for what they did at the club. Thinking caps on…

Deconstructing the Crouch Signing, Limb By Gangly Limb

There is a scene in 80s thriller Black Rain in which the character played by the cracking Andy Garcia gets himself into a rather bad-tempered war of words and finger-wagging with some rather devious Japanese gangsters. In fact, the situation escalates a tad worryingly for Garcia, who soon finds himself defenceless, and faced by one of the said gangsters who is now tootling around on a motor-bike whilst wielding a great big samurai sword. As the gangster approaches him, sword a-flailing, Garcias angry expression turns to one of peculiarly calm resignation. Not panic, nor terror; more a philosophical acceptance of his fate. The deed is duly done, and Garcia

s head and body part ways, but that expression he wore has rather stuck with me.It

 

s the expression I now wear on learning that we have now signed Peter Crouch, for an undisclosed fee of presumably around £10 mil, give or take. Buying Peter Crouch leaves me feeling a little bit like Im about to have my head chopped off by a gangster on a bike with a sword it aint great, but there

s nothing I can do about it. (Sign Patrick Viera and I reckon I’ll have the expression of John Hurt when the alien nipper came a-popping out of his chest – but that’s an argument for another day…)Peter Crouch is a decent player. Good touch, pretty quick feet. While he has a curiously prolific scoring record for his country, he is not really a goalscorer – nor is he being bought for that purpose. Bent scores more goals, Pav is probably a more skilful player, but Crouch is being bought to bring the best out of Defoe. He will probably do so a fair degree of success, judging by their time together at Pompey, and indeed Defoe has been notably fulsome in his praise of the freakish one.

It is also worth noting that he is presumably a striker against whom opposition defenders would not particularly relish playing, due to his sheer gangliness

 

and doing what the opposition don

t want you to do is generally regarded as a good thing. (I am reminded of the fantastic England-Argentina friendly in late-2005, a cracking contest of opposing styles, with South American technique and English bustle slugging it out toe-to-toe. With England trailing 2-1 Crouch was slung on for the last few minutes, and managed to make a sufficient nuisance of himself at crosses for Michael Owen to steal in with a couple of late goals.)Yep, Peter Crouch is a decent player – but then this is precisely the reason I wear my look of philosophical resignation. He’s a decent player, and not much more than that. Not in the Palacios/Modric class, that will push us forward a step or two. He is Premiership standard. The top four in the country did not express any interest in him – instead we fought off Sunderland and Fulham for his signature. Morevoer, as I noted last week, he’s not as good in the air as he ought to be (didn’t work his back muscles enough as a teen, apparently), and he can encourage teams to resort a little too willingly to a long-ball game.

Still, we have him now. These, on the faceless forums of the interweb, are the times to grumble, moan and generally peer at the other side of the fence where the grass is always greener. Once Crouch’s comical frame goes lolloping across the hallowed turf at the Lane, on 16th August, we’ll give him a raucous cheer and hope that ‘Arry has got it right. He has, by and large, got it right so far.

 

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