Spurs preview

Fulham – Spurs Preview: What ‘Arry’s Backroom Staff Is Missing

‘Arry might already have the world’s largest backroom staff, but at the moment the most useful person to have snuggled up between Joe Jordan Kevin Bond might be Florence Nightingale. Instead, we appear to have hired Darren Anderton’s personal physician. Lennon, Bentley, Hudd and even the Lord of all things Sideways and Backwards are each out injured, meaning it will be the bare bones in lilywhite across the midfield today.

Our Makeshift Midfield – Actually Quite Tasty

However, as bare bones go, a midfield of Bale-Palacios-Modric-Kranjcar is still pretty blinking impressive. BAE should move seamlessly back into the team at left-back, meaning Gareth Bale will be shunted forward to left midfield. The handsome young Welshman is certainly capable of playing the more attacking role, but part of the reason for his success as attacking full-back has been that the midfielder ahead of him has cut inside giving him a passage down which to overlap from deep. It will be a slightly different role today, but he still seems a good bet to cause mischief.

Modders will therefore presumably take the central midfield berth, with Sergeant Wilson playing the role of his big burly minder, which would leave Kranjcar, fresh from wonder-goal exploits with Croatia, as right winger. It all sounds quite marvellous actually – pace, trickery and silky-smooth passing all served up on a bed of Honduran snarl – but the crucially sobering proviso is that one more injury and we’re quite possibly doomed.

Not just tomorrow either – the return dates for Messrs Hudd, Bentley, Lennon et al are several weeks off, so if our top-four Premiership push is not also to be derailed the four who start across the midfield today will need to be carefully encased in cotton wool and that bubble-wrap stuff the minute the final whistle sounds. And if that sounds dramatic have a perusal of our subs’ bench this afternoon, likely to feature the likes of Dervite, Rose, Livermore and Townsend. All enthusiastic young bucks I’m sure, but probably not the chaps upon whom we want to pin our top-four hopes.

Peter Crouch, International Superstar

In typically restrained fashion various tabloids have been heralding Crouch as the saviour of England’s World Cup campaign. All well and good but his niche at the Lane is as Plan B. Natterings in certain quarters yesterday suggested that Defoe might have tweaked something in the line of international duty, but only such an injury ought to split up the Defoe-Pav partnership. Much more of the Russian’s net-bulging antics and plans might have to be made to iron his 12 letters across the back of next season’s lilywhite shirt. For the time-being however he is one of the in-form strikers in the country, and a good bet for a goal at some point today. It might not be the world’s most complete striking partnership, but Defoe and Pav are two of the best goalscorers around at the moment.

Fulham, particularly on their own patch, are a tough bunch of nuts to crack, but even with injuries we ought to be able to grab at least a draw from this (and I certainly fancy our chances in a replay against this lot at the Lane).

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now in shopsand Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Enfield, today, from 12 – 2pm. If you prefer the comfort of your computer-box, the humble tome can also be purchased at, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play

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

Spurs match reports

Everton 2-2 Spurs: Doing It The Tottenham Way

How uniquely Tottenham. Could any other team in Christendom have managed to plough on with such determination towards ignominy, when offered quite so many opportunities for glory?The Tottenham Way

I’d like to think that when a player signs for Spurs, he is sat down and given a good thorough education on the club’s history. He is instructed in the tradition for playing football in a certain style – keeping the ball on the floor, moving it around slickly. The Blanchflower quote is drummed into him – “Glory… doing things in style… etc.” If the player in question is foreign, this quote is the first English he masters. He learns the names of every member of the ’51 Championship-winning push-and-run team, and dutifully sits through hours of black-and-white footage. He worships at the altar of the Bill Nick double-winners. He is sat down and forced to watch the one-touch extravagana that was Darren Anderton’s goal away to QPR in November 1993.

The reality? Probably money and nightclubs; but after games like today’s I wonder if the first thing they are taught on driving up through Bill Nicholson Way, with rigorous attention to every conceivable detail, is how to shoot themselves in the foot in any given situation. You are now a Tottenham player, and it is therefore your duty to explore every avenue for self-destruction, before ever proceeding to victory.

And for good measure, that kamikaze message is then presumably drummed home in the huddle before every game. If the FA were to decide retrospectively that the entire Everton squad took a bung for today’s game, and awarded the three points to us, some idiot in lilywhite would probably pipe up and suggest a rematch instead.

Ruthlessness: Not Welcome at White Hart Lane

A strange old game, because while enough to reduce grown men to tears of despair, it was by no means an awful performance. For so many of our lot, the laudable and the deplorable waltzed merrily hand-in-hand. If they were making lung-busting 20 yard runs to slide in and win a tackle one minute, you could blinking well guarantee that they’d be caught dawdling in possession the next. Adroit movement to create a clear goalscoring opportunity was duly matched by an inaccurate finish. It’s Tottenham in a microcosm. When we were good we were very good; when we were bad we were horrid. Ruthlessness had a look, but was firmly ushered away, and now seeks an abode elsewhere.

Sliver Lining. Honest.

Our heroes’ penchant for the mind-bogglingly infuriating has sunk to new depths, but I honestly believe that if we take time out from throttling the nearest small animal (I’m considering storing in my back garden a small pestilential rat, or rabid dog, or Thierry Henry, just so that I can come stomping back home after days like these and give the vile creature a damn good kicking) we can appreciate a few glass-half-full conclusions.

As mentioned, this was no awful performance. For the second away game in a week, we have done a jolly good impression of a home team. The notion of sitting back from kick-off, soaking up pressure and assessing the situation was given short shrift, as we dispensed with subtlety from the first whistle, and went at it hammer and tongs. Sure, Everton had their chances, and in the first half our defence conducted a couple of stringent examinations of precisely how the term “suicidal back-pass” ought to be defined, but we made one shooting chance after another. Against Wigan they all whistled just inside the post; this time, as with Villa last week, they all seemed to arrow a foot the other side.

Kranjcar’s cup continues to runneth over with new and ingenious ways of causing panic in opposition ranks, and Lennon really does seem to have mastered the art of the inviting cross. It’s not just a one-off, a hazy estimate suggest that four out of five were whipped into pleasingly dangerous areas.

I can think of games just this season (Stoke, first half vs Sunderland) in which we’ve had plenty of possession but struggled to create a genuine goalscoring chance. There has been a lack of movement off the ball, which has clotted our creative juices (notably of Hudd) and led to too much dependency upon the cursed long-ball game. By contrast, over the course of the last few games (and I even include the Man Utd match amongst these) there has been a distinctive buzz of movement in our ranks. Yes, we need to convert rather than rue our chances; and by golly we need to beg, steal or borrow the ability to wrap up a game when leading 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes; but on a broader front there is at least the sense that we have the capacity to create sackfuls of chances.

The counter-argument is that for all this approach-play loveliness WE STILL DIDN’T BLOODY WIN DID WE? Well, granted. When the time came to dig in and fight to the death, we were found wanting. And two points from what really ought to be six, will almost certainly come back to make rude gestures at us come mid-May. Fourth is still in our own hands, but if are to make it we seem determined to do so in the most excruciating manner possible. How uniquely Tottenham.


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