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 Fulham: That Old Cliche, & The Beckham Verdict

Blinking heck, that was dashed hard work – to which end our vanquished opponents deserve credit, while we can also direct sneers of ill-disguised derision at those fools who suggested beforehand that while there is no such thing as an easy game in the Premiership, if there were then Fulham at home would probably be it. Ahem.That Old Chestnut

In recent weeks I fear that I have begun sounding like a broken record, with tales of impeccable technique and pretty triangles, but this was a performance cut from different cloth, our heroes emerging with bruised shins and dirt beneath the fingernails. While we would all prefer a champagne football performance, such gritty wins as this, with players flinging themselves at full-length to block opposition shots as the clock ticks down, are a necessary evil as we trundle towards a Top Four berth. Observers across the nation have wasted little time in trotting out that predictable line about winning while playing poorly being the sign of a title-winning team, although we would probably be getting a little ahead of ourselves if we began indulging in such maxims just yet.

Opportunity Knocks

The medical boffins at AANP Towers are working around the clock to diagnose Alan Hutton’s untimely malady, but his departure signalled the return to the fold of Vedran Corluka. Hutton strikes me as the type who would react to bad news by smashing a whisky bottle over the head of the messenger, so I rather hope he is not perusing these pages, but history under ‘Arry suggests that once one man departs the starting XI his replacement wastes little time in leaping into the vacant spot and in the process just about removing from history any trace of the existence of his predecessor. It is a ruthlessness to which Messrs Bentley, Kranjcar, Keane and indeed Corluka himself can attest, so should Hutton’s injury prove lengthy he may struggle to return to the team. But I darned well won’t be the one to break the new to the Scot.

Admittedly I am not the biggest fan of the lumbering Croat (as previously expounded, my personal preference at right-back would be Younes Kaboul), but given the circumstances Corluka’s strength and positioning nous proved mightily useful in helping to stiffen up things at the back. Moreover, we were also treated to a couple of those sumptuous little diagonal passes inside the full-back for Lennon to run onto, passes so beautifully weighted they were worthy of Modders or VDV. A vastly different proposition from Hutton, but Corluka certainly has his uses.

Lennon’s Final Ball

There are few more exhilarating sights in Christendom than seeing Aaron Lennon go flying over halfway in a blur of legs, leading a Tottenham counter-attack, but when he had the chance to settle the nerves and score a second he chose the wrong option this afternoon. Indeed, in the first half too he picked the wrong option when free in the penalty area with time to pick out a lilywhite chum.

Beckham: The AANP Verdict

C’est la vie, but some have suggested that this distributory aspect of Lennon’s game might benefit from the wisdom that might be imparted by a certain D. Beckham Esquire. AANP is not in the habit of passing comment on speculation, but as this whisper is fast snowballing towards fact it probably merits half a moment’s thought. In a nutshell I like the idea, primarily for what might be termed the Eidur Gudjohnsen Effect.

Brought in on loan last January, Gudjohnsen made the occasional, pretty handy, contribution on the pitch, notably in retaining possession when leads needed protecting. Perhaps just as importantly however he also added experience to the side as we closed in on a first Top Four finish. If Beckham can add this, plus the fabled off-pitch contributions on the training ground and the like, he would be a worthy addition. Not sure about him as a like-for-like right-wing understudy for Lennon – it would make more sense to deploy him as a possession-cherishing centre-midfielder, in the Huddlestone mould – but whatever the minutiae, the idea appeals.

Satisfactory Stuff

A slight shame that all the other title-chasers won, but three wins in a week is cracking stuff. Having ploughed through the previous two games with ten men it is understandable that our heroes were not at their slick best, and given these circumstances grinding out yet another win is most satisfactory.

Spurs – Man City Preview: Ten Point Wish-List For Season 2010/11

Cripes, it’s upon us. No longer a blurry speck in the distance, the new campaign approacheth sharpish – and as such a wish-list for season 2010/11 is, if nothing else, rather timely…1. Finish Fourth 

2. Gareth Bale to Keep Eating His Greens 

3. Some Top-Class Signings 

4. Bring In An Older Head

I was moved to stand and applaud when Eidur Gudjohnsen was signed in January, not only because of my borderline-unhealthy obsession of the Sheringham role in any given football team anywhere, but also because an older, experienced head seemed like a jolly good idea as we approached a season’s conclusion in which retaining-possession-in-the-dying-stages and general nerve-holding became increasingly important. Ours is not the most boisterous gaggle of young men, and an older head like Gudjohnsen, or indeed Davids and Naybet before him, could potentially prove a handy investment, imparting the odd morsel of wisdom on the training-pitch and in the changing-room, and adding a touch of nous on the pitch. (nb No idea what has happened on the Gudjohnsen front, but I presume, alas, that he won’t be returning to the Lane).

5. Rediscover Sergeant Wilson’s Sparkle 

6. Continued Improvement From Daws (And Hudd) 

7. Be More Clinical In The Crunch Games 

8. More 5-1s and 9-1s 

9. Nurture At Least One Of The Kids 

10. Hit The Ground Running 

First up it’s the paupers of Man City. Strictly speaking it is only three points, but hark back to 16 August 2009, and victory over Liverpool was the perfect start to the season, immediately sprinkling around liberal quantities of belief that we were capable of challenging the Top Four, as well as injecting a most pleasant sense of bonhomie around N17, upon which we toddled off and sat atop the table for a few weeks. Something similar tomorrow against another key rival would be tickety-boo.

I half expect that if City’s owners find out that I write a football blog they’ll make a bid for me too, as their spending spree is verging on the ludicrous, but to be honest if some billionaire foreign sort offered to swan into White Hart Lane and invest several hundred million on new players I’m not sure too many South Stand punters would object. However, for all City’s spending they can only stick 11 on the pitch at any given time, and mano e mano our heroes are certainly capable of three points. Here we go again then…

Tottenham Hotspur 2009-10: The All Action No Plot Awards

Something for your withdrawal symptoms if, like yours truly, you have such a Tottenham-shaped hole in your life that you now spend the first half hour of your working day actually working, rather than trawling the interweb for morsels of Spurs news. Before season 2009/10 becomes but a sepia-tinged memory sending good vibrations through your very core, it is only right and proper that the second AANP End of Season Awards are dished out.Dear Mr Levy, at Jimmy G2’s abode and at the ever-entertaining Who Framed Ruel Fox? – but please do now pour yourself a good bourbon, stick some Julie London on the gramophone and ask a kindly neighbour to perform a suitably dramatic drumroll…

The Storm From X-Men Award For The Most Pointless Superpower in Christendom 

The Play-Off-Chap-Who-Chipped-It Award For Most Mental Penalty Of The Season 

On top of all that, ill-fortune also befalls our lot when penalties are awarded our way. Defoe has had several saved, and the Hudd broke the habit of a lifetime when opting to place his shot rather than leather it, in his penalty against Bolton. However, amidst the blitz of spot-kicks this season, the one stands out is Robbie Keane’s against Everton – an effort initially saved by Tim Howard, prompting a melee more akin to playground football, as Messrs Bale and Bentley went charging in for the rebounds, and Howard produced about six separate parries before Keane eventually slammed the ruddy thing in. Truly, ‘twas all-action-no-plot, in penalty form.

The David Bentley Award For The Best Speculative Punt Against l’Arse 

The Bacary Sagna’s Hair Award For Fashion Faux Pas of The Season 

The Clegg-Cameron Award For Unlikely Partnership Of The Season 

 

The Saving Private Ryan Award For The Most Mental, 30 Minute, All-Action-No-Plot Sequence Of The Season 

While there was an astonishing all-action 30 seconds or so late on in the season, at home to Pompey (when Thudd almost snapped the woodwork in two, Crouch volleyed the rebound against the very same spot, and then tried an overhead kick from the resulting corner), the most astonishing half hour of this – and quite possibly any – season, was in the second half at home to Wigan. Jermain Defoe donned his Midas suit, and Niko Kranjcar responded to our last-minute please for “One more, we only want one more”, as a little bit of history unfolded at the Lane.The Et Tu Brute? Award For Attacking Your Own Team-Mate 

The “Sod It – Who Else Wants A Go?” Award For Most Popular Position Of The Season 

The Geoff Hurst Award For Hat-Trick of the Season 

The Teddy Sheringham Award For Moving Exceptionally Slowly For A Professional Athlete 

The Klinsmann-Dive Award For Celebration Of The Season 

 

 

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).  

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

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

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

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

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

Champions League, baby!

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

Playing For A Draw 

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

Gold Stars and Back-Slaps 

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

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

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

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

 

Talk Champions League With Gary Mabbutt! 

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

 

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

Spurs 1-0 Bolton: Romance Blooms At The Lane

Why do they toy with us so? This whole business of wingers who can zip across the turf at twice the speed of light is all well and good if the counter-attacks lead to a glut of goals, but, as against Chelski a couple of weeks ago, our glorious heroes seemed determined to avoid making the game safe – anyone else get the impression that Gudjohnsen quite deliberately placed that last-minute shot at the advertising hoarding rather than the net?Thus ends the rant. Victory by whatever means was all-important, and I’d have settled for a last-minute goal from that over-zealous ball-boy if it had guaranteed the three points. That the players had to make it quite so nail-biting is presumably just part of their contracts, to do things the Tottenham Way. Useful preparation for Wednesday night too, this nerve-shredding approach.

We ticked the necessary boxes, as we have generally done at home all season. In no particular order therefore, a handful of musings from the weekend’s goings-on.

The Romantic Hit Of The Summer 

Younes Kaboul Does A Surprisingly Good Cafu Impression

Younes Kaboul certainly looked like a man who has been eating his greens this week. Previously a peculiarly-eyebrowed square peg in a right-back-shaped hole, he was one of the best players on the pitch on Saturday. While there is something about him that will always suggest God did not intend him as a natural right-back, he took every opportunity to haring up the flank with all the speed and power of a runaway train. And to pretty good effect too. His distribution is hardly Beckham-esque but he delivered a couple of well-judged cut-backs and one inviting cross atop the mullet of Pav, whilst also applying himself with good wholesome gusto in defence. Top marks, sir. (The slightly worrying question of how he will fare against Craig Bellamy on Wednesday can be shelved for another 24 hours.)

Ledley: Pushing The Boundaries of Language

Someone invent some more superlatives, because Ledley is exhausting the current supply. I’d take him to the World Cup, elect him Prime Minister and have him open the batting for England this summer. Aside from the usual (pace, calmness, use of the ball) his reading of the game, to intercept passes before I even had time to utter panicked profanities, was particularly eye-catching. What a boost if we could patch him up again for Wednesday.

So there endeth a jolly impressive season of home games. Bar a couple of struggles against our more negative guests, and a no-show against last season’s champions, we Lane-goers have been rather spoiled – wins against the Champions League-chasers, goal-fests against rubbish teams, and all served up on a bed of good old-fashioned champagne football. Time to take the show on the road. Fingers crossed, prayers said and small animals sacrificed for Wednesday.

Final Chance to Catch Gary Mabbutt Signing Spurs’ Cult Heroes – THIS SATURDAY 

No game this Saturday – so a tidy little opportunity to pop into Walthamstow Waterstones for the final signing session by

Gary Mabbutt of AANP book Spurs’ Cult HeroesWaterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, 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 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, 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

Spurs 2-1 Chelsea: I Heart You Too, Gareth Bale

Someone at the club shop turn this week into a double DVD box-set with a snappy name, and pronto. Here at AANP Towers we considered our prognosis of four points from the visits of l’Arse and Chelski to be noble but sadly blinded by optimism. After last weekend’s debacle, who on God’s green earth ever envisaged a reality that saw us take six points from these two games, and with quite such élan? And all that with a team including the slightly terrifying sight of Kaboul at right-back?Performance Of The Season 

The opening exchanges – in which we pinged the ball around in neat little olé-style triangles – set the tone, with our vanquished opponents notably unable to handle the link-up play of Modders, BAE and (inevitably) Bale, and in fact barely able to touch the ball. Nor was Cheslki’s anticipated second half onslaught allowed to materialise, and I’m not even sure they created a clear-cut chance until the 93rd minute, itself an astonishing testament to our injury-hit defence.

And then there was the second most glorious sight in Christendom: the lightning-quick lilywhite counter-attacks that had us outnumbering them from the halfway line. These really ought to have seen us give the scoreboard a more memorable edge, but they did at least bring about the most glorious sight in Christendom, the sending-off of the ever-likeable John Terry.

Apparently Chelski recorded around twice as many completed passes as our lot. Bravo to them. If anything this stat reinforces the incisiveness of our play, for while they passed sideways and sideways again, in their vain search for a chink in our armour, our heroes scythed through them repeatedly with lightning-quick one-touch moves. We completed fewer passes because we needed fewer passes. Such was the confidence and quality of our football that within two or three passes we were bearing down on goal.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Palacios?

It was the worrying question on our lips last weekend, the cause of several thousand furrowed brows trooping up the High Road. Sergeant Wilson’s two-match ban loomed at seemingly the worst time conceivable – but goodness me it was a problem addressed in quite astonishing fashion. When not in possession, Modders and Hudd did not try to mimic Palacios by rushing out and harrying opponents. Instead they kept their discipline and sat, a two-man barrier in front of the back-four, through which Lampard, Cole et al struggled throughout to fashion an opening. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.

Seasoned visitors to AANP Towers will now that here have not traditionally dwelt the Hudd’s greatest admirers. Against l’Arse and Chelski however he turned in remarkably polished performances. Not one Hollywood pass in sight, he just kept things ticking over with a glorious maturity, playing first-time passes with the air of a man who had had a quick look around immediately prior to receiving possession and therefore knew exactly where the ball would go as soon as it came his way. We kept possession like a team who truly cherished the little white orb, and for that much credit is due to the Hudd, although the contributions of our wide men, as well as Pav and, latterly, the Ice Man, also merit appreciative high-fives.

Modders too has given two of his best showings of the season this week, all slick passing, tight control, intricate dribbling and a determination not to be barged off the ball that belies his paperweight frame. Our little-and-large central midfield pairing have turned themselves into a most accomplished partnership, a feat all the more impressive as it has been achieved against a pair of teams deploying three in central midfield. Unbelievably, the problem now surrounding Wilson Palacios is how to accommodate his return. (The AANP solution is to move Modders to the left and Bale to left-back – a formation which to all intents and purposes works as a five-man midfield, once Modders tucks inside and Bale overlaps).

Other Points Of Note

I’m not entirely sure what any of Bale’s goal celebrations are about, but it’s about time we started to see them. No-one is more deserving of the headlines, but goals had been rather conspicuously absent from his series of bravura performances of recent weeks. I look forward to more curious hand-gestures in coming weeks, while bracing myself for a summer of speculation about his future.

Which unknowing observer would have correctly identified the established England centre-back from the candidates on show? Michael Dawson, I salute thee, even if Don Fabio does not.

As for the penalty calls, AANP considered that there were a couple of strong shouts – Terrys shirt-tug on Defoe, and a sliding challenge (from Malouda?) on Bale  – before the eventual penalty award (which, entertainingly enough, seemed from this vantage point a little harsh on Terry).

Sort out how to break down those deep-lying defensive teams and we could be aiming even higher than the top four. That is a conundrum for another day, however. Now is the time for making merry, and revelling in a quite astonishingly good couple of days.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm

, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

Spurs’ Cult Heroes

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

Spurs 2-1 Arsenal: Late Musings On That Glory-Glory Night

Apologies for the tardiness – busy times at AANP Towers. While it would have been nice to add my tuppence worth to the wave of euphoria in the 24 hours immediately after the Arse was spanked, the delay perhaps allows for a more circumspect few musings.AANP is classifying it a game of one half and two quarters.

First Half

For spells in the first half our lot barely got near the dashed thing, and with l’Arse hogging possession it threatened to be the opening scene of one of those Final Destination films, where the kid has a premonition of unabated carnage on all sides. With no Sergeant Wilson to roll out his little routine of charging up to opponents, stopping a yard off them, looking them in the eye and then daring them to pass him, our midfield pairing off Modders and Hudd looked initially like lambs to the slaughter, alternating between standing back or making woefully ill-timed lunges for possession.

And yet, as it turned out, we kept them at arms length. Other than a first-minute shot which BAE snuffled out on the line, I’m not sure l’Arse managed a shot on goal in the entire first half. By contrast, on the counter we created a couple of chances – and as for the opening goal… As the ball dropped from the skies, a montage of Gazza’s St Hotspur day free-kick and Bentley’s Emirates volley flashed through the mind, before the boy Rose took a punt and gained immortality.

Half-Time

Nice to see David Ginola (Cult hero! Cult hero!) at half-time, but I spent the interval cursing our lot for what they were about to put me through. 

One Quarter

As it happened, the first half of the second half (you follow?) was simply wonderful. I’m not just talking about the goal, gorgeous though it was (who knew Defoe had the defence-splitting diagonal killer pass in him?) It was the manner in which we gave l’Arse the run-around for twenty minutes or so thereafter, with a maturity I simply did not know we had. Watching Gudjohnsen and Modders play keep-ball as weary Arse legs chased shadows was one of the most satisfying sights of the season.

On the evidence of Wednesday night, the January re-shuffle of Keane-Out and Gudjohnsen-In looked a master-stroke. Admittedly Gudjohnsen fluffled a glorious chance to kill the game, but that apart his calm, shielding of possession in midfield was brilliantly executed, and exactly what we needed. Difficult to imagine Keane giving us that sort of input if added as a late sub.

Second Quarter

The inevitable nail-biting finale soon followed however, prompted by the arrival of Van Persie. It was desperate, last-ditch stuff at time, but by golly didn’t it make the chest swell with pride? From the front (Defoe racing around to execute sliding tackles) to the back (Ledley, an absolute Rolls Royce of a defender) they fought to a man, and when we ran out of men we were able to turn to a deity in goal. On my little Spurs Fixture List booklet, next to each result, I note down our goalscorers; for this game the notes read: “Rose, Bale, Gomes (3)”. His acrobatics and reactions defied belief.

Nerves shredded and fingernails chewed to the bone, my heart has now filed for divorce from me, on the grounds of persistent unreasonable behaviour – but it seems a price well worth paying. After the Pompey defeat, the lowest I have ever felt as a Spurs supporter, I tried to remember how the good times felt; not sure I’ll ever forget the feeling around 10pm on Wednesday night.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
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

Spurs – Portsmouth FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Gearing Up For A Ruddy Marvellous Week

And so begins our biggest week since the last great big important week we had. Two wins from the upcoming three games? The feeling here at AANP Towers is that we’re certainly capable of winning at least one of the two home games against l’Arse and Chelski, and with one Aaron Lennon due for return at some point this week this really could tee us up for a ruddy marvellous finale to the season.First things first however, and frankly it would take quite a monumental effort from our heroes to fail to make the FA Cup Final from this position. Admittedly Tottenham Hotspur FC has quite an eye-catching history when it comes to un-winning the most winnable of contests, and FA Cup Semi-Final complacency is not unknown around these parts (see 1995 name-on-the-Cup, Klinsmann, Everton and all that) but even at my most pessimistic I can only envisage us churning out a sloppy first half, prompting ‘Arry’s twitch to go into overdrive at the break and our lot upping their game sufficiently in the second half.

Portsmouth are falling apart at the seams, and were unable even to bring a full squad of 18 players to the Lane a couple of weeks ago. While I sympathise with their off-field plight (as Best Man to a Pompey fan that’s pretty much in my contract), today is a day for kicking them while they’re down. The official company line is that there are no easy games, and Pompey will certainly apply themselves with a darned sight more commitment than in the League meeting a couple of weeks ago, but for all their willing we should have more than enough quality, particularly going forward.

Team Selection

The usual headaches apply to selection, particularly in defence. The absences of Kaboul and Walker would hardly be lamented if we were at full-strength, but with Daws, Corluka and, most curiously, Ledley all due for late fitness tests it is still possible that the likes of Palacios or Livermore may be shunted into the back-four, with BAE switching to ad hoc right-back. Hudd (I think) is an absentee; Lennon is not yet match-fit; and Portsmouth are no doubt quaking in their boots at the news that Jenas is also undergoing a late fitness test.

The outlook is far rosier going forward. All four strikers are match-fit, and we have the usual array of string-pullers from which to choose going forward. ‘Tis this abundance of attacking riches which provides the main grounds for optimism. Cup upsets happen, but if Pompey’s ramshackle bunch of reserves and kids can repel the combined might of Defoe, Pav, Crouch, Gudjohnsen, Bale, Modders, Kranjcar and Bentley for an hour and a half then they each deserve knighthoods.

Having recently held a public training session for supporters, our heroes have no doubt been informed that failure to win today will result in them being marched out in front of supporters and publicly flogged. AANP’s wish-list is straightforward – a win, by whatever means, and no mention of Sergeant Wilson’s name in the referee’s little black book. Enjoy the day-out.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
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

Spurs – Fulham Preview: Cue The Star Wars Theme Music

A Cup quarter-final, under the floodlights and in front of a jam-packed White Hart Lane – if that doesn’t get your juices flowing my friend you’re probably better off at the Emirates. The Star Wars theme that greets the players as they amble out each week may not be everyone’s particular brand of cognac, but pre kick-off it certainly makes the hairs on the back of the AANP neck stand to attention, and by the time it blares out this evening I suspect I’ll be bouncing off the walls and ready to kill someone with my bare hands.With any luck the eleven in lilywhite will be similarly frenzied come 8pm. The omens are fairly encouraging – in our recent League double-header against Fulham we worked hard for a goalless draw on their patch, and then comfortably beat them 2-0 at the Lane barely a month later. A slice of nice meaty déjà-vu would go down nicely tonight.

Team News 

Ye gods be praised, as it looks as if reinforcements are finally arriving. Hudd and Bentley might be back in contention, and even if they do not swan straight back into the starting line-up I’ll be exhaling in relief merely at the sight of them snuggling up on those comfy seats in the dug-out. While it is positive to see Livermore, Townsend et al mingling with the first team superstars, if we are hit by further injuries or even just tired legs, it will be reassuring to gaze around and behold chaps of the ilk of Bentley and Hudd stretching their multi-million pound limbs on their sidelines.  

Fulham: Abusive To Old Ladies

I fancy us to win this, as do the bookies, but complacency will be banned from the premises given that Fulham dealt out a right thumping to (an admittedly ten-man) Juve last week. Form is temporary and class permanent, according to the adage, but whatever the explanation Bobby Zamora is playing like a man who has been eating his greens. He has been a handful against us on a couple of occasions already this season, and let’s face it, our lot hardly relish having to face these big burly chaps, all elbows, backsides and upper-body strength. I suspect that Sebastien Bassong earns more in a week than I do in a year, but I will happily dispense with envy tonight if he merits the full pay-packet tonight and keeps Zamora under lock and key.

These things don’t always go to plan, but if our heroes blow this opportunity I might never forgive them. It ought not to come to that. Everybody will be singing, when the Spurs go marching on.

 

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). 

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

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