Spurs match reports

Spurs 1-0 Sheff Utd: Turning The Hard Way Into An Art Form

Melchett: ‘It’s a barren, featureless wasteland out there, isn’t it?’
Darling: ‘The other side, sir…’

I suppose we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that even if we had established a three or four goal advantage tonight, this being Spurs we would probably be two down within ten minutes in the second leg anyway. Nevertheless, even by our standards, this was particularly head-against-wall-bangingly frustrating. Our heroes inevitably spent the first half pausing to deliberate for a good seven or eight seconds over every touch, and duly registering not a sniff of goal.

Mercifully, bang on half-time our visitors decided to run out of steam, so we did at least get to set up camp in their half thereafter. Not that it prompted any particular injection of creativity, our passing notably remaining multi-touch, but such is life.

In this world of dreary slow build-up play, the two little moments of skill that created the penalty shone out in the gloom like beacons of light from heaven itself, serenaded by choirs of angels for good measure. Where on earth Vertonghen’s delicate chipped pass has been living all these years is anyone’s guess, but it was a thing of daintiness, the sort that would not have been out of place at one of the dolls’ tea-parties that my five year-old niece occasionally invites me to spectate.

Similarly, Soldado’s control with his right clog, of a ball coming over his head at something around chest-height, was enough to prompt the Sheff Utd defender into planting a hand on the ball and almost bursting into tears.

There was not much else to prompt the pulse into life, let alone set it racing. Young Kyle Walker’s recent profession that he is trying to be more Lahm than Alves continues to look an awful career choice, and the mentality typified things. Adebayor reacted to not being given a sniff of the ball by pointedly deciding that he was not going to look for it either, so there.

Just when I started to wonder if the introduction of Paulinho was actually some sort of anti-mirage brought on by the cold, up he popped, to take umpteen touches before passing backwards. This was later followed up by a burst into the box and a mishit shot so weak it almost slowed to a stop and started to reverse.

The entire dirge was accompanied by the sound of thousands of palms slapping foreheads in frustration, and just like that, next week’s task was made infinitely more difficult.  A victory is always lovely, and 1-0 in these circumstances is infinitely better than conceding away goals and whatnot – but this seems like a masterclass in doing it the hard way.

Spurs preview

Lilywhite Grumblings Post-Norwich & Pre-Wigan

The table continues to suggest that life is actually tickety-boo, but the brow furroweth with fresh earnestness around these parts, because hanging on for a narrow victory/draw, in games that ought to have been stopped after an hour for sheer cruelty to the opposition, now sits alongside inane twitterings and naughty-business-with-good-looking-but-vacuous-reality-TV-models on the list of favoured past-times of our heroes, with Maribor, Southampton and now Norwich providing recent evidence of this dubious trend.

This recurring business of taking the lead and then embarrassedly retreating and practically rolling out a red carpet for the opposition to wander back into the game, whether they want to or not, is frightfully sporting, but does have the dubious side-effect of leaving the army of lilywhite support wrenching out their hair and boiling their own heads in sheer, unabated frustration.What the dickens goes in their empty heads when they finally take the lead is quite beyond my ken, but for those perusing the interweb pre kick-off today – and I’m sure most of them do indulge in a spot of AANP while they go about their pre-match rituals – for goodness sake chaps, next time you have a mediocre bunch of rag-tag overweights and amateurs down on the ground, kindly whip out your medical encyclopaedia app, locate the blasted jugular, grab hold of the nearest weapon or stabbing implement and thrust repeatedly until blood spurts all over your garish green boots and the opposition are nothing but a twitching, bloodied, defeated mess.


And Don’t Think You’re Escaping Without Blame Young Man

Our glorious leader hardly covers himself in glory either, for his enterprising tactical approach of bringing on extra defenders when our opponents are ready to crumble, just to make sure that everyone realises the official party line is ‘We’re-One-Goal-Ahead-Of-A-Weak-Team-So-Rather-Than-Take-The-Game-By-Its-Neck-Scruff-And-Deliver-A-Thrashing-Let’s-Barricade-Ourselves-In-And-DEFEND-FOR-OUR-LIVES’. Which is not really the Butch and Sundance modus operandi. Just telling the troops to keep going and score again would probably do the trick, instead of this bizarre reversion to skin-of-the-teeth mode every time.

‘Twas noted by an onlooker after my last witterings that a hidden agenda lurks within the corridors of AANP, to unroot AVB, hurl him from the top floor and reinstall ‘Arry. To reiterate my response, the assorted denizens of AANP Towers tend not to roll thusly. ‘Give AVB a few years’ is very much the mantra being hummed morning, noon and night around these parts, after which we can assess if his range of party tricks extends beyond looking uncannily like a stubbly Vertonghen.

A troubling observation of the early days of his reign is undoubtedly that the fare peddled by our heroes these days has all the gung-ho action-packed content of a dreary black and white arty French film with subtitles, which strays somewhat from the blitz of attacking excitement to which we have been treated in recent years – but one imagines that this will be righted soon enough, particularly when Dembele returns and Adebayor is available again. The trade-off of VDV for Dempsey/Sigurdsson continues to look like shoddy business however, and I will take some convincing otherwise.

So Wigan roll into town today, and top of the wish-list at AANP Towers is that once our lot finally take the lead, they jolly well knuckle down and look for more. The frantic final 10 minutes plus injury time is not big and not clever.

Spurs match reports

Stoke 0-0 Spurs (7-6 pens, dammit): One Heck Of A Ride

Fare thee well Carling Cup 2011/12, it’s been one rip-roaring, lip-quivering heck of a ride, with highlights including the mesmeric second round bye, and the frantic googling of the name Massimo Luongo. However, when we turn back the yellowed, sepia-tinged parchment that records these travails, the outstanding memory will undoubtedly be one man and his quite astonishing inability to get anywhere near saving penalties. In a feat barely permitted by the laws of the space-time continuum, Gomes managed to dive the wrong way for all eight penalties. The poor blighter does not seem to do low-key and inconspicuous, and while the shoot-out episode can probably be excused as unfortunate, with each passing week it seems likelier that he will offer equal measures of the sublime and ridiculous between someone else’s goal-posts come the January transfer window.Gomes’ bizarre directional misjudgements handily distract attention from a pretty woeful performance by the boy Pav. Unless he’s belting in 25-yard screamers he tends to spend his time ambling around the pitch, weighed down by a giant chip on his shoulder. The awful penalty was in keeping with a typically lethargic performance. Time to call in Mr and Mrs Pav for a few choice words on their son’s attitude, methinks.

On a brighter note, there was a return for Sandro, and another clean sheet. Moreover, as we in the stands become more familiar with Masters Livermore, Carroll et al, it is reasonable to assume that they are similarly becoming more comfortable in the environs of the big wide world.

In closing, permit me if I may, to take you back to our last Carling Cup penalty shoot-out failure, way back in 2009. After hearing ‘Arry trot out the obligatory line about penalties being a lottery, I managed to prevent my blood from boiling just long enough to dig out these thoughts from yesteryear:


Tossing a coin is a lottery. Russian roulette is a lottery. The National Lottery is a blinking lottery. A penalty shoot-out is not a lottery, you hear me?Get a penalty during 90 minutes (or indeed extra-time) and hands are slapped and little jigs danced. Admittedly such joy is promptly replaced with unbearable tension and biting of nails in the build-up to the kick itself, but the point remains that during the course of a game, a penalty is seen as a cracking opportunity to score. There ought not to be any reason why the same twelve-yard pot-shot suddenly becomes a moment of doom-laden hopelessness during a shoot-out, prompting managers to concede defeat and reducing arrogant bling-toting players to spineless, mal-coordinated naysayers.

Nor is the actual taking of a penalty a complete lottery. Admittedly, the nervous tension of a 90,000-bodied stadium, and millions upon millions of TV spectators cannot possibly be replicated on a training ground. However, practise 50 spot-kicks in the week leading up to a Wembley final, and if called upon you would at least be comfortable with the technique, run-up, spot you’re aiming for etc. Heaven forbid however that the players actually dedicate themselves thus.

This isn’t a complaint about the outcome on Sunday. I actually thought that with Gomes in goal we stood a pretty good chance in the shoot-out. And I give credit to Bentley and O’ Hara for having the

cojones to step up. I’m just disappointed still. Actually, make that gut-wrenchingly devastated, and absolutely livid, but with what I know not. Dagnabbit that should have been our cup. And now on top of it all I have to listen to every man and his dog tut sympathetically and tell me that it’s ok because it was all a lottery anyway? SOD OFF AND LET ME STEW IN MY OWN MISERY.It’s a futile, and mildly pathetic rant, but I either slam it down here in literary form, or burn with red-hot pokers the eyes of the next person to inform me sagely that penalties are a lottery.

Spurs preview

Stoke – Spurs Preview: The Least Important Game of Our Season?

Europa League or Carling Cup, which ought we to want less? It’s a tricky one. The Europa League trophy is a sizeable beast, and its lack of handles gives it a pleasingly Neanderthalic edge – one cannot help but handle it in rough, uncouth manner when raising it aloft, which is rather apt after 90 minutes of blood and thunder. The Carling Cup on the other hand has three handles, which is just plain weird, and ‘Arry will no doubt have taken this into account ahead of kick-off.However, we only need to win five games to make the Carling Cup Final, whereas five games in the Europa League won’t get us much further than half-time against Shamrock Rovers. Presumably the strategy in both tournaments will be to use the reserves, kids and those returning from injuries in the early rounds, before putting pedal to metal in the later stages. As such, everyone’s favourite gifted-yet-calamitous Brazilian gets to pop his cheekbones once more tonight, Gomes lining up between the sticks. With Gallas and Sandro returning, and Bassong, Corluka, Pav and presumably Giovani also involved, our lot ought to make a decent fist of it. The opposition won’t need too much introduction, it having been only five minutes since we were treated on a weekly basis to the sights of Crouch looping headers harmlessly into the stands, Sergeant Wilson mis-placing six yard passes and updates on the official club website about Jonathan Woodgate’s latest injury setback.

In all competitions we have five clean-sheets in seven games to date this season, and while it won’t matter a jot how we fare ce soir if we’re still pushing for fourth come next May, it would still be most satisfying if we could furtively eke our way into the quarter-finals of this thing, as has been our wont in recent years.

Spurs match reports

(Back Catalogue) Spurs 1-4 Arsenal: Never Mind The Kids, What About The Grown-Ups?

Due to the horrors of the real world (new flat! new flat!), a near-lethal bout of man-flu and, most pertinently, a mightily ropey wi-fi connection, the AANP ramblings of recent weeks have been trapped, like the three evil types inside the glass prison in Superman 2, on a usb stick, unable to make it to the interweb. However, to ease the pain of the international break, this back-catalogue of previews and match reports will now finally see the light of day – which means that you lucky things will be able to relive all the hundred-miles-an-hour excitement of the past three weeks or so! Huzzah!


22/9/2010: I guess this is what it would be like if the A-Team were locked in a shed, constructed their usual tank and burst out of said shed – only for it to break down immediately and for all four of them to be dragged out and shot to death. Having rather hung on for 90 minutes, extra-time promised some sort of rousing finale, so there was an unfortunately anti-climactic feel to the manner in which the game so swiftly became a lost cause, with the best part of half an hour left to play. (That said, pats on backs to all those who hung around to sing their hearts out in the dying minutes – oh that those on the pitch might have shown the same passion…)


The Kids


Rare starts for Livermore and Naughton, and a debut at centre-back for Caulker. Each of them did just about what you would expect: some slick technique, plenty of youthful enthusiasm, some false bravado and a few moments of panic when hairy situations arose. None had me salivating in frenzied anticipation, nor cursing the day they signed up as lilywhites. Good luck to all three.


The grown-ups however ought to have known better. In the first half in particular there was a lack of leadership, with Sergeant Wilson – now resembling a poor man’s Zokora, of all things – Giovani, Bentley and Pav a little too willing to let the buck be passed, rather than leading by example.


Aside from the personnel, the first half formation was a mite curious. ‘Arry seemed to go for three deep midfielders, in Sandro, Livermore and Palacios, and they spent much of the first 45 getting in each other’s way; while Bentley was stationed out on the left, and Pav moped around waiting in vain for some service or some company up top. All generalisations you understand, but in general the tactical approach of the first half seemed rather a muddle, and we also spent rather a long time learning that precious little damage can be done if we don’t have the ball.


However, the second half brought more purpose, most obviously through the introduction of Keane, who bounded around with an enthusiasm that put several of his team-mates to shame, and the reversion to a more orthodox 4-4-2. Given l’Arse’s curious penchant for trying to win through looking pretty rather than outscoring the opposition, we actually created the better chances over 90 minutes. For all their possession, including that three or four-minute spell in the first half where we simply could not get a touch of the ball, we actually defended in sufficiently organised fashion to prevent them making many clear chances.




Thrown on when we went 3-1 down and the game was officially being stamped with the big red sign that reads “Cause: Lost”, I did rather scratch my head and wonder why ‘Arry opted against his inclusion from the start, particularly having made all sorts of noises beforehand about giving him some game time. True, he hardly covered himself in glory during his 20 minute shift, but the chap is still a mighty useful player, and I would purse my lips in frustration if he were shunted out of the door come January.


Silver Lining


A damn shame to get knocked out like that, and the baiting from my Arse-supporting chums was an unwelcome throwback to the days of yore, but it is fairly undoubtedly a measure of how far we have come that the Carling Cup, the trophy that was the pinnacle of our season just two and a half years ago, is now this far down our list of priorities. Having taken a hammering at home to that ‘orrible lot from up the road, the sentiment on the train back up to Enfield was one of only mild annoyance, for this was very much a match played with the bigger picture in mind.

Spurs preview

Spurs – Arsenal Preview: Plenty in Reserve?

A good bourbon. Terminator 2 with surround sound. Scantily clad nubile young women prancing around AANP Towers. Just a selection of some of the finer things in life, which get the juices flowing here at AANP Towers, and to this exalted list can be added an evening kick-off at home to l’Arse. Some of the sheen of the occasion may be spoilt a little if the two managers, understandably, decide to mix and match with their team selections, but a rip-roaring atmosphere ought nevertheless to whip up beneath the floodlights.


Rare Opportunities Knock


I neither know nor care particularly who Wenger picks, but amongst our lot there could be a couple of eye-catching selections. Amidst all the drooling over the arrival of VDV, poor old Niko Kranjcar has been left to fiddle with his alice-band from the sidelines. I feel mighty sorry for the blighter, as he is a cracking little player, about whom I suspect all and sundry might rave were he English. A bargain at £2 million not so long ago, his days may be numbered if his path to first-team football continues to be obscured by a couple of Modric and VDV-shaped obstacles, but tomorrow he has a chance to go out and impress.


The morrow will also signal a debut for young Sandro and his sensational beard. High hopes around these parts, not least because of the gradual decline of Palacios, who looks more rookie foot-solider than Sergeant these days, but who will nevertheless also be on show.


Elsewhere, injuries mean that Hutton is likely to start at right-back, while I imagine that l’Arse will be spared torture at the hands of Bale. ‘Arry has already suggested that the worryingly unfit Gallas will not reacquaint himself with former chums, while Ledley will be up in the stands somewhere, firmly ensconced in cotton wool.


Cudicini; Hutton, Bassong, Hudd, BAE; Giovani, Palacios, Sandro, Kranjcar; Pav, Keane.I guess that the starting XI may look vaguely like this, but whoever the personnel I jolly well expect that they go at the other lot hammer and tongs.



RIP Bobby Smith


Tomorrow night should also give us an opportunity to pay our respects to Bobby Smith. Presumably I am not alone in being too young to have seen him in action, but any member of our Double-winning team deserves to be regarded as a hero, and Smith was an integral member of the class of 61. Many a time and oft my old man, AANP Senior, has lamented the absence within the Spurs team of “a great big striker, like Bobby Smith”, and his 200 plus goals for the club merit the highest adulation.

Spurs match reports

Man Utd 2-0 Spurs: A Lone Voice Suggests Spurs Weren’t Actually So Bad Last Night

A slightly tardy ha’penny’s worth – the rigours of the real world having inconsiderately interfered in the business of interweb rantings – but one advantage of this delay has been an opportunity to let the dust settle on last night’s defeat to Man Utd, take a few deep breaths and survey the wreckage.While it was by no means an awe-inspiring display from our heroes, I am a little taken aback at the extent of the criticism being flung our way. I thought we started proceedings fairly well last night. Stop sniggering at the back. We shifted the ball around intelligently enough, attacked down the flanks and the centre, and created a few chances from close range (the sort of which were nestling merrily in the onion-bag against Wigan, I noted ruefully). To be honest, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were the home team in the early stages. I get the feeling that my former allies are now staring at their feet embarrassedly, and shuffling away from me, but I’ll dagnabbit I’ll plough on.

While we created decent chances from around six yards, at the other end we hardly carved apart – United had two pot-shots from distance, and we were two-nil down (although they did then create a presentable chance just before half-time). On balance of play, parity at half-time – or even a lead for our lot – would not have been history’s greatest injustice. Instead, I spent the half-time interval morphing into a three year-old throwing a tantrum about how unfair it all was (albeit a three year-old pausing for regular sips of whisky and coke), bemoaning the fact that we had gone two down before they had even got inside our penalty area.

However, no matter how determinedly I complained about the perceived injustice, two-nil it was. Without having done much to earn the right, United were able to indulge in a fairly fretless round of keep-ball in the second half, as we then admittedly laboured to produce anything particularly threatening. The reaction to the two-goal deficit was deflating, ‘tis true, but I thought it was jolly rotten luck to find ourselves in that position at all.

Alternatively, Maybe We Really Were That Bad, And I Watched Through Beer Goggles?

On occasion over the years I have imparted some of that unique AANP wit and badinage upon the young ladies of London, who will appear stunning of an evening, only for a later rendez-vous to reveal them to be wretchedly disfigured and, frankly, ugly as sin. The blame for such erroneous initial visual assessments can be squarely traced back to the clouding of judgement by alcohol; and perhaps such beer-goggles have interfered with my interpretation of yesterday’s game too, for I suspect I’m in a minority with my assessment.

Whatever – It’s Done. Some Closing Sentiments. 

‘Arry has made sure that the press have him down as angry about the defeat; AANP is disgusted at suggestions that this is just a ruse to make it appear, to fans who forked out last night, that he cares about the Carling Cup.

Young Master Bentley may have flicked his hair for the final time in Tottenham colours. One suspects that he did not quite do enough last night to convince management that he is a better option that Lennon on the right.

And we can all forget about the Carling Cup, just as we forgot about the Europa League last summer, and increase our focus on the battle for fourth spot in the Premiership. All competitions are equal, but some are more equal than others.


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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book 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, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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Man United – Spurs Carling Cup Preview: Selling My Soul

Ah, Man Utd versus Spurs. Two giants of the game, under the floodlights, in a one-off knock-out contest. It reminds me of when England played Brazil in the 2002 World Cup quarter-final. Then, the meeting of two sides with so much history behind them provided a unique buzz of anticipation, and seemed to epitomise precisely what the competition was about. And now, Manchester United play Tottenham Hotspur. It’s a classic Cup tie.Except it isn’t really. It’s the Carling Cup, by far the lowest of Alex Ferguson’s priorities, and now a sideshow at White Hart Lane.

Wellbeck and Gibson

Man Utd sent out the minions for a Champions League game last week, so a Carling Cup quarter-final is unlikely to herald the appearance of the big guns. In fact, even when we met in the Final last year, they had such household names as Wellbeck and Gibson in their starting line-up. Nevertheless, they still beat us, and their second-string tomorrow is likely to be pretty strong again. (Nor should we expect too many favours from the officials, this being Old Trafford…)

’Arry for his part has also pledged to empty the contents of the substitutes bench out onto the turf. Keane, Pav, Bentley, Bale, Jenas and Hutton could all feature – which is fine by me, to be honest. They are all capable enough, having all been first-team regulars at some point or other.

Dawson and Bassong will presumably start again in defence, which is a silver lining to the murky cloud under which Ledley and Woodgate hobble around. The Daws-Bassong combo worked well on Saturday, in only their second game together, and another 90 minutes will give them a chance to develop further. It could be the start of something beautiful.

The in-form Kranjcar is cup-tied – curses – but my main concern is that we may well start without both Defoe and Lennon, both of whose pace and sharpness in recent weeks have given us a real cutting-edge going forward. Many a time and oft these days I can be spotted gazing misty-eyed into the distance; on such occasions it is a fairly safe bet that I’m wondering what might have been if we had had these two for the visit to the Emirates last month…

The Days of Yore: Over 

The lure of silverware is still strong of course, for all the usual reasons (another etching on the honours board; another reason to crow over l’Arse; and it’s just plain ruddy marvellous to win trophies), but now the situation is undoubtedly different. We are not just pushing for UEFA Cup qualification any more; the days of yore are over. They ended around the time we beat Sunderland and moved into fourth by more than just goal difference. The sentiment at AANP Towers has now altered, as we have begun to look genuine contenders for the fourth Champions League spot. It’s like leaving behind the blissful innocence of childhood – but discovering the wondrous joys of the liquor.

Not only that, but we are in the driving-seat for fourth. And this isn’t one of those anomalous late-August League tables, where we top the pile but only on goal difference from Stoke – a third of the way in, and we are as well-placed as anyone to take fourth. I have to admit, I would trade quarter-final Carling Cup elimination if it would help our Premiership campaign.

I Feel Unclean 

An involuntary shudder passes down the spine as I type that, for I do feel sordid in admitting it. Out, damned spot. We are Tottenham Hotspur, and as such we have a glorious tradition. Winning the FA Cup in 1901, the first post-war team to win the Double, the first British team to win a European trophy… and so on. [**Shameless plug – our glorious tradition will be lovingly covered by AANP in forthcoming book

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, out next Feb**] Preferring to finish fourth in the League over winning a trophy – my own family would struggle to recognise me. It’s selling my soul. ‘Tis a dark, dark day at AANP Towers.Still, that’s one man’s opinion. “Judge me not by the heights to which I aspire, but by the depths from whence I’ve come” (if you pardon a little vulgarisation of the quote) – for we’ve already shown we can master the dark arts of the Carling Cup, over the last two seasons. This certainly represents firm progress from a decade ago, when our heroes seemed unable to put one foot in front of the other without stumbling over, while the other lot racked up trophies like they were going out of fashion. We are finally moving in the right direction, having won the Carling Cup and gained European experience. Now we have an opportunity to take the next step forward. Success in the Carling Cup once again would be cracking, but qualifying for the Champions League is now the target, and much though it pains me to admit it, anything else would seem a mite anti-climactic.

Still A Cracking Chance For Glory 


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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book 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, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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Preston – Spurs Carling Cup Preview: Giovani’s Chance

Well we can call off the missing person’s search. Head down to Deepdale tonight and you’re likely to be treated to rare glimpses of Giovani and David Bentley, last seen being surreptitiously airbrushed into the background as ‘Arry’s favourites went through their pre-match warm-ups. There has been some clamour for Giovani’s inclusion in recent weeks, and after the two woeful attempts by ‘Arry to compensate for the absence of Modric, it would really warm the cockles tonight to see the Mexican put in a virtuoso performance on the left.Nevertheless, that ‘Arry has his favourites is beyond dispute, and the sentiment at AANP Towers is that Giovani could score six goals, save a penalty and discover a cure for cancer tonight, and he’d still be behind Keane in the left-midfield pecking-order. The likes of Giovani, Bentley and Pav are only likely to get a run of games – or even a cameo substitute appearance – if half the squad comes down with plague, and while we’re crying out for centre-halves, the attacking slots seem off-limits at the moment.

There will be welcome returns from injury tonight for Messrs Dawson and Gomes, while Bale may also get a chance to stretch his legs. Spare a thought for poor old Pav though, injured at the one time of the month when he seemed likely to get a game.

The usual mantra applies tonight, about warning against complacency. Spurs certainly have some pedigree when it comes to Imploding-In-Humiliating-Fashion-Against-Lower-League-Opposition-In-The-Carling-Cup, as the inhabitants of AANP Towers still break out into cold sweats at the memory of last year’s debacle away to Burnley. Want it enough however, and they’ll win it tonight.


Your memories are still welcomed on Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the latest to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a book looking at White Hart Lane legends, due out next spring. Feel free to leave your memories – or browse those of others – here, while memories of others can also be perused/added to: Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here, Gary Mabbutt here Graham Roberts here

Spurs news, rants

I jest ye not – Jenas made the difference: Watford 1-2 Spurs

Hmm – I honestly think that we owed our win last night in large part to the presence of Jermaine Jenas.

Alright, alright – I’ve clearly gone mad. Too many booze-fuelled late nights, not enough sleep, not enough oxygen to the brain – these have all contributed to some severe form of dementia. I’m obviously crazy. I’m obviously talking the gibberish of a lunatic. No team on the planet can benefit from the presence in its ranks of Jermaine Jenas.

However, continuing the crazy-talk theme – I began to appreciate him once he was absent, injured. As mentioned previously on these pages, in his absence our central midfield comprised two deep-lying types, in Thudd and Zokora. Last night, Jenas was back and the midfield seemed to have a better balance. Unlike Thudd and Zokora, Jenas is happy to assume a position some 10-20 yards in advance of the halfway line, with his midfield partner sitting deeper. As such, whenever we won position we tended to have an attacking option in addition to the strikers, and this helped to drag the oppo around a bit.

Returning to sanity, Jenas’ return to the team did also remind us all of why he is so reviled by his own. Bless him, he works his socks off, makes lung-bursting runs, occasionally dribbles past midfielders, generally does the difficult part – and then always, always messes up the finish. This would also be why he doesn’t have his own song ( There was one notable jinking run in the first half yesterday which ended in a shot so tame you wanted to feed it berries from your hand. Then in the second half he caused panic in the oppo ranks by picking up the ball from 20 yards and determinedly burrowing towards goal – only to scuff his effort into a pathetic dribble that barely had sufficient momentum to make it into the arms of the goalkeeper. Honestly, to paraphrase from Bruce Willis’ wife in the first (and best) Die Hard, only Jermaine Jenas can make you that angry. Bizarrely, the only time he’s complemented the effort and determination of the build-up with a suitably successful end-product was away to l’arse earlier this season, when he scored an absolute peach. Any other time, that shot would have been so mis-hit and weak it would have stopped rolling out of embarrassment.

However, his presence and positioning improved the shape of the team. I assume that ‘Arry hastily read my last blog posting just prior to kick-off, because as well as addressing my concerns about the midfield balance he also addressed my point about resting key personnel, by picking a pretty darned strong starting XI.

They began with all the energy and verve of a moribund sloth, and the nightmare scenario of conceding early and away from home to a lower league team duly materialised. (The goal encapsulated our early sluggishness in a microcosm – Lennon beaten to the ball by a far hungrier opponent, Jenas and Woody wrong-footed and lumbering with the turning speed of a pleasure cruiser while the oppo striker swivelled and buried it). However, this had the pleasing side-effect of sparking us into life, and also prompted Watford to give us possession on halfway and sit back in their own half. We duly attacked, Lennon in particular looking good, O’ Hara not so, and the goals duly came. Pav, Bent, yadiyadayada, job done.