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."

5 Potential Managerial Candidates for Spurs

AVB: An Epitaph

Here at AANP Towers we like to see a good, clean contest, with batsmen walking as soon as the finger goes up and a man nobly stepping aside when some bright young bounder on a horse bends his cannon and makes off with his wife. In such circumstances we cannot help but stiffen the lip at the demise of a manager just three shakes of a lamb’s tail into a season.

That said, not a tear will be shed around these parts. The £100 million pound mob were peddling a style so bereft of life that by yesterday evening it had eaten away approximately 78% of my very soul, which was a far from ideal state of affairs. On top of which, every band of rag-tags and hoodlums (hoodla?) with body-art on their arms was swanning up and knocking our lot to kingdom come. Given the circumstances, it is difficult to imagine a murmur of discontent from anybody involved.

So AVB is now swimming with chums of a piscine persuasion, and with that particular king dead we might as well toddle on to the next point on the agenda – the gentlemen whose services may imminently be volunteered.

Hoddle

He has such lovely hair. But coiffeur aside, this suggestion generally meets with a wary eye and murmurs of warning – understandably so, as Hoddle made rather a pickle of things last time out, and has since drifted into the ether of TV studio mumblings. However, if we want our Tottenham back the blighter knows our style inside out. His sterling work with England in ’97 and ’98 merits a ticked box, and while he did admittedly benefit then from a cracking group of players the 2013 vintage at the Lane seem a similarly fruity bunch.

AANP Rating: Gives the impression of a man who knows his after-dinner port.

Laudrup

Blessed with similarly lovely hair, and also a chappie whose playing career suggests he knew a thing or two about the finer points in life. Laudrup may be a little green behind the ears in this managerial tomfoolery – and history suggests that leaving a fresh-faced type in charge of our troops is not necessarily a guarantee of success – but he has his Swansea mob playing football the right way, has some experience in England and a nice shiny pot at home to impress the slew of nubile young women who possibly trail after him.

AANP Rating: Young enough to have his way with the fairer sex, sufficiently debonair to light a cigar afterwards

Capello

Crumbs. I dare not say a bad word about this chap lest he track me down, and disintegrate my insides purely through the medium of an inscrutable stare. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the old bean. It all seemed a bit dour and funless when he managed England to humiliation, and if the last few weeks has taught me anything it is that humiliation without any fun is the worst sort of humiliation. Let’s at least get humiliated in a blaze of glory, what? However, disciplinarian that he is he might be inclined to pick one strategy and stick to it, which would be progress of sorts. None of this Capoue-up-front nonsense.

AANP Rating: The sort of blighter to sink a few neat whiskies and eyeball his guests if they do not do the same.

Klinsmann

He once turned and looked at me after he scored. We had a moment. Striker to striker. One for the dreamy idealists I think, as this would equate to a romantic swoon in managerial form, but with fairly limited substance behind it in terms of club management. He seemed to have a rip-roaring time managing Germany to the brink of glory on home turf in 2006, and I have no idea how he is getting on with the States, but he has just nabbed himself a four-year contract. All things considered this seems like the dreamy gamble that, right now, will not amuse Levy.

AANP Rating: Likely to be the one dancing atop a table, gin-based cocktail in hand. Which is not really cricket.

Guus Hiddink

Might be worth a knowing nod through a smoky haze and a charged glass. Hiddink kept his head down and the muck off his shoes while sipping from the poisoned chalice at Stamford Bridge, only losing once (to our lot, bizarrely enough), and yanking the FA Cup en route, before being shoved out. The CV is sparkly enough, and my spies tell me he is currently loafing around at home doing crosswords at present.

AANP Rating: Picks the appropriate vintage for each dish in a five-course meal.

The unfortunate truth is presumably that, despite the rigorous scientific compendium upon which these findings are based, Levy is likely to make his own call on this one, hard-nosed renegade that he is. So be it. If nothing else, chewing over the identity of the new man at the helm will give us all something to do while the young folk are spilling over the dancefloors at this week’s Christmas parties.

Burnley 4-2 Spurs: The Nostalgic Return of Some Old Tottenham Favourites

Maybe it’s just as well. For all the joy and excitement, it was actually a bit disorientating to see us churn out displays of such professionalism and efficiency week in and week out. Just as in the final episode of an American soap opera, when popular former characters are wheeled back in for nostalgic cameo appearances, so in tear-jerking style Spurs made sure that in the season finale we were given a final glimpse of former weekly regulars, the Soft Underbelly and Barely Fathomable Implosion. Thus, as would happen with regularity bordering on inevitability in the not-too-distant past, we were once again treated to our heroes managing to throw away a game of which they had appeared in complete control. Two up against a relegated side? Not a problem for the Spurs teams of yore, and for old time’s sake, here it was again, in all it’s former glory. Old Folk: Wise

The old-timer next to me in the pub may have had the right idea when he suggested at half-time that, on finding out that l’Arse were 3-0 up – and third place therefore gone – the Spurs players would ease up in the second half. It would certainly explain why our lot simply melted away in the latter stages. The wizened gentleman’s analysis was also a darned sight more accurate than the AANP retort, that we would push on for the 10-goal win we needed that would improve our goal difference in the event of an Arsenal draw. Ahem.

If It Hadn’t Been For The Four Goals We Conceded… 

Around these parts we’re thoroughly chuffed for young Modders. As I watched his goal get better with every repeat viewing, I could not help thinking that he probably does that sort of thing every day in training. If there is a criticism of him it is that he does not score often enough, but by golly they are always well worth the wait.

Thoroughly perplexing to see Ledley in action and fully mobile yet again. Perhaps with the names Carragher and Sol Campbell now bizarrely being bandied around for the World Cup squad, Ledley thought it best to ease everyone’s nerves by demonstrating that he can in fact play three times in one week, and that there is therefore no need for Don Fabio to go mental and start scouting the 2002 squad list for options.

2009/10: Better Than We Had Dared Hope 

Top six, or a trophy. Or both. The bookies make us sixth favourites for the title, and sixth spot is an aim that straddles the divide between “ambitious” and “realistic”. In more private confines we may peer hopefully towards fourth spot, particularly given the sales made by Wenger this summer, but there will be tough competition for that…” 

Many, many sincere thanks to all have this season supported AANP in the writing and publication of Spurs’ Cult Heroes. This modest tome 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 – Wigan Preview: “Kaka Dispossed by Jenas…”

For those of you who think my Jenas-bashing is sounding like a broken record, I am proud to announce that this week I come to praise the man, not than bury him. Well alright, “praise” might be a little strong, but this is at least intended to be a mite more constructive than the usual tirade.The sight of our hero lining up for England against Brazil last week may have been a touch bewildering (on the basis of which games exactly did Don Fabio make that particular selection?) but did not appear to produce anything particularly revelatory for us seasoned watchers. As self-appointed guardian of all that goes backwards and sideways, JJ’s approach did help retain possession, but offered little of value either in aiding attack or shielding defence (although I have noted and collected for posterity his tackle on Kaka. That’s Jermaine Jenas tackling Kaka. Cripes).

Jermaine Jenas is Actually Awesome Going Forward. Sort Of.

However, I am prepared to argue – or at least throw the idea out there – that when he finds himself in the right place he can be a handy man to have around. Drop the rotten tomatoes, just here me out. This wondrous “right place” of which I speak could be thought of as a small rectangle around 30 yards from goal. I jest ye not – give him the ball in this area, and he has the capacity to become a different beast. Rack your brains and you too may recall the occasional glimpse of potential he affords us from this position (admittedly, before he retreats again to wallow in the far more familiar surroundings of centre circle mediocrity).

I was reminded of this last week when he played against Brazil of all teams. On at least two occasions in the first half, he received the ball some 30 yards from goal, and rather than spin round and shirk all responsibility, his eyes positively lit up, and he embarked on a dribble towards the Brazilian area.

He’s got previous here too. In the 4-4 at the Emirates last season he threw caution to the wind in the dying stages, and galloped forward to score a peach of a goal. Against Pompey earlier this season, his burst into the area, while completely out of keeping with his other 89 minutes on the pitch, brought a pretty impressive assist for Defoe. Even when he came on as sub against Man Utd a couple of months back, he briefly appeared to be one of the few players with any attacking intent in the final third.

However…

Unfortunately, Jenas is not a great player because these moments of inspiration in the final third are so anomalous, and because he offers precious little else as a central midfielder. Most of the time he is the midfielder other teams would love to see lining up against them. He will do their job for them by slowing down his own high-speed counter-attack, giving all members of the opposition time to get back, regroup, discuss defensive strategy amongst themselves and prepare for the next phase of play. One can only imagine that he hears the volume, rather than the content of the vitriol from the stands every time this happens, and is thereby encouraged to repeat the exercise.

Yet for all his infuriating meandering around the halfway line, he does occasionally show some energy and inventiveness in the final third. He showed last week that when the mood grabs him he is capable of doing it against the best in the world; now wouldn’t it be just peachy if he decided to turn over a new leaf, starting with Wigan at home, and took that mentality into every game (or at least every home game)?

Elsewhere…

Before the weekend’s games kicked off we were fourth, which rocks, and exceeded AANP’s pre-season aim (top six, lest ye be interested). However, since Modders limped off stage left, performances have been rather scratchy, culminating in a good hour of the cursed long-ball last time out against Sunderland. Therefore, the modest wish-list from AANP Towers is simply that three points are garnered, by a healthy margin and in exhilarating, easy-on-the eye style.

The rumoured return to the side of Lennon would be a step in the right direction, but as ever, the focal point of pre-match chatter will be whether and how Keane will be accommodated. Results have gone our way so far this weekend, and Wigan at home (with all due respect) is a perfect opportunity to further those delusions of grandeur, which we have been nurturing so carefully this season.

 

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

s ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the other players to be featured: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles 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

England 2-1 Ukraine: If It Ain’t Broke…

It wasn’t particularly broke, it didn’t need fixing. Curious then that Fabio suddenly came over all Norman Bates, picked up an axe and started swinging wildly until something was indeed broken.Lennon was doing a decent job on the right. He had not set the world alight, but there was always a threat, a bit of a buzz, whenever he got the ball and ran at his man. “Menacing” might be the word I’m after. That part in a horror film where the delectable and scantily clad young jezebel finds herself on her own in a dark house – you get the feeling something worth watching is about to happen, even though it might be a red herring.

Lennon on the right offered a genuine attacking threat, balancing (albeit asymmetrically) the Cole-Barry-Gerrard-Rooney combo from the left. At least, that’s how it was in the first half. The withdrawal of Lennon ten mins into the second half robbed England of their only pacy outlet, and coincided with the drop from “urgent” to “perfunctory”.

The introduction of Beckham ought to imply a general shoring up of things, with the game in the bag and 15 mins to go. Instead he was brought on with only a one-goal lead and 35 mins to play. Beckham didn’t get within 30 yards of the Ukraine by-line.

However, Beckham did provide the cross for the winner, which is basically his raison d’être in the team these days, and is something Lennon generally can’t do (certainly not from deep). So was Fabio right after all to withdraw Lennon? The case in his defence – Beckham’s assist – has been made; the prosecution argues that his introduction of Wright-Phillips once Ukraine had equalised indicates that Capello recognised the need for pace missing since Lennon’s withdrawal.

I guess the conclusion is that the whole bally lot of them rather lost urgency in the second half, and the replacement of Lennon with Beckham was a contributory factor – but, when it was needed, Beckham offered an attacking threat, albeit in a vastly different way from Lennon.

The Rest of Them

Elsewhere, it’s broken-record time, as Gerrard’s performance for country was again patently less impressive than his typical displays for club (which is the cue for all Liverpool fans to create life-size models of All-Action-No-Plot Towers and then burn them down in incandescence). Gerrard remains a square peg in a round hole for England. He is most effective behind the front man; but this would negate Rooney, who in a different sort of way is also most effective behind the front man. The bar ain’t big enough for the two of them.

Gerrard on the left is fine against Slovakia, but one wonders if he’ll be quite as effective on the left in the latter stages of a World Cup. Personally I’d go with J. Cole left, and Gerrard-Barry in the centre, with Gerrard having more licence to attack than Lampard currently does. The whole business of Lampard playing a more “disciplined” – i.e. defensive – role had me flailing my arms and muttering in frustration all night.

My man-crush on Rooney continues, but that darned red mist enveloped him once again.

James – calamity.

Ashley Cole – strangely beset by an identity crisis that had him thoroughly clueless as to his nationality, with the result that he spent most of the game passing to Ukrainians. Someone dig out the boy’s passport and talk him through it.

Terry – good assist, and smartly-taken goal, but reckless in conceding the free-kick for their goal. Oh that Ledley’s knee was healthy.

Crouch’s goal was also smartly-taken, but the celebrations for both goals were rubbish. Crouch at least had the decency to look thoroughly embarrassed by whatever the hell he was doing. The Terry-Rooney routine was as appalling as it was perplexing.

However, the bright and breezy take on the game is that we were excellent in the first half, patient and dangerous; and when we absolutely had to raise our game in the second half we did. Three points is all-important in qualifying. If/when we make the World Cup Finals, no-one will care about that dodgy half 30 mins in the second half vs Ukraine in April.

England 4-0 Slovakia: On-Pitch Fluffiness, Off-Pitch Soap Opera

A virulent strain of man-flu left me stuck in AANP Towers, and unable to venture out in search of the curious GCSE Media project that is Setanta. 5Live and ITV highlights for me – the extended exposure to 5Live’s Alan Green robbing me of much of the will to live – so my take on the game, tactically wanting at the best of times, is about as meaty as a vegan’s lunch-box today.I had hoped for the challenge of a decent period of parity, to give England a bit of a test of patience and creativity. The early goal duly robbed the game of much purpose, although it’s one for the Wembley crowd to tell disbelieving grandchildren several decades hence, having been netted by Heskey. The eventual 4-0 scoreline suggests that the Slovaks obediently fulfilled their roles of sacrificial lambs without demur.

Some fluffy and inane thoughts to pass the time, based purely on the noises that came from my radio:

 

·         There is a concern that the Upson-Terry central defensive pairing has a lack of pace that would be punished by better teams (a penny for Ledley’s thoughts).

·         A bizarre, Darren Anderton-themed game of musical chairs amongst the strikers saw about twenty of them trot on, get injured and trot straight off. I’m cleaning my boots in anticipation of a call-up to the squad for Wednesday. As is Kevin Davies, according to the good folk of the BBC. Distressingly, only one of these statements is made in jest. (Hot off the press –  well, luke-warm – is the news that big bad Dazza Bent is to transfer that hurt, confused, hands-half-raised-to-head look from club to country, having been summoned by the Don. Cripes. Another penny please, this time for Michael Owen’s thoughts.)

·         The question of whether to build the team around Gerrard or Rooney seems to have replaced the question of whether to pick Gerrard or Lampard.

·         Lennon, apparently, was ok (and, mercifully, withdrawn without injury). However, there was something approaching consensus on the view that Beckham’s crossing gives him the edge, even if Lennon gets the nod on Wednesday.

Fairly bland, satisfactory and meaningless then, as anticipated by all and sundry. More entertainingly, away from the lumpy Wembley turf there had been an increasingly farcical air about the England soap opera over the last day or two, conjuring up images of poorly-scripted day-time TV soap operas.

·         Bewilderingly, both the mother and mother-in-law of John Terry found themselves in trouble with Her Majesty’s finest, for shop-lifting. The mind boggles. It’s like a caption competition without a picture.

·         After much fanfare the new, £50(!) England shirt was unveiled. Presumably intended to hark back to the days of Lofthouse et al, it looks rather like the design brief was assigned to an eight year-old, who quickly became distracted and forgot to complete it. It certainly evokes memories of Tottenham – both Spurs’ plain white shirt of last season, and the PE uniform I wore as a nipper in the playground on the High Road, just opposite White Hart Lane. Neither here nor there I guess, but it does aggrieve me to think that someone somewhere is minted on the back of designing that.

·         The tête-a-tête between Fabio and ‘Arry simmers on, although now less Rocky vs Apollo Creed, and more schoolgirls spreading gossip about each other. Fabio raised the point that there was no objection to the call-up of Alan Hutton to the Scotland squad, after several months out, as there had reportedly been to Ledley’s selection. Possibly a mistake on the Italian’s part, as the circumstances are different. The Ledley objection revolves around his recovery time, as a strictly once-a-week player; Hutton is more straightforwardly just back from a one-off, non-recurrent injury.


So all a bit surreal, but pleasing enough. Things should at least pick up as the more serious business of the qualifier vs Ukraine approaches, followed by the Premiership programme next weekend. Bon weekend, one and all.

King and Country

Sunday: Ledley gets called up to the England squad.M

onday: Arrys twitches go into overdrive Madness, he rages, The boy cant train all week! His knee swells up the size of Croydon! We only had two points…Tuesday: Ledley gets sent back home by England. (Perhaps for maximal effect this should be read whilst listening to the Benny Hill theme tune)

It seems that Fabio

Einstein Capello and his crack team of monkeys have concluded that Ledleys knee, currently stuck together with sellotape and string, will not stand up to the rigours of twice-daily international training sessions and two international matches per week. In the same press release Capello also revealed that some bears prefer to defecate in woodland areas, and that Pope Benedict is a Catholic. 

As it’s a quiet week for football news the media have gone to town with tales of how the relationship between Fabio and ‘Arry has descended to the level of to-the-death physical combat. Not there are too many direct quotes to substantiate the claims that the pair are not getting along, but the line we’re being fed is that they are not about to skip around hand-in-hand in congenial agreement on what to do with Ledley, who is being tossed around like a lump of meat while the two camps bicker away.Kind of England, King of The Lane 

It seems equally reasonable of ‘Arry to have objected to the prospect of Ledley being asked to train, or play twice in a week, given that he’s physically incapable of either. So far, so good. Despite the exhalation of some hot air, both have got their way.

The more pressing issue was whether Ledley would play for England next Wednesday, as that would have ruled him out of Spurs’ game the following weekend. Club trumped country on that one, and Ledley was sent back to Spurs Lodge, for some hardcore watching from the sidelines as others train.

Lescott and Upson vs Torres and Villa: Scary 

In theory it’s a cracking idea. Ledley’s pockets are bulging, full of all the strikers he’s kept there over the years, for club and country. He would certainly provide excellent cover for Rio as the ball-playing centre-back, and not too many eyebrows would raised if he were considered for the starting XI. In practice, however, the guy is a cripple six days out of seven. His inability to play more than once a week renders him an unaffordable luxury in a World Cup, where games come around every four days or so.

Some have argued that Ledley would be worth a place in a World Cup squad, even though unable to play twice in a week, because, as a stand-by defender, he is better than all the alternatives. Understandable point, when one thinks of, for example, a quarter-final against Torres and Villa, with England boasting Upson or Lescott at the back. A one-legged Ledley would probably instil more confidence than those two.

The Verdict Is… 

Just this once, my argument is not borne of a pro-Spurs bias, for those at All Action No Plot Towers wave their England scarves as enthusiastically as their Tottenham ones. If anything, having a foot in both camps, and with impeccable balance, I am unusually well-placed to offer an objective opinion, in contrast to my usual, excessively blinkered rants.

On a personal level it’s desperately unlucky, for one of the most gifted defenders of his generation. I like to think that I am uniquely positioned to feel Ledley

s pain, given that I too have an unfortunate congenital condition known in medical circles as a twinge which prevents me from training midweek in between Monday night 5-a-side games. Neither Ledley nor I, kindred spirits, are likely ever to represent our country in a World Cup, and purely because of our wretched medical predicaments, callously thrust upon us by a cruel and vengeful Lady Luck. (You see? Its all a womans fault.)So what conclusions to draw from this sorry tale, aside from desperately sympathetic pats of consolation for the blighter? Unfortunately, there is not much left to do but, rather guiltily, wait for Ledley to get back to business in the lilywhite of Tottenham, rather than England. Despite this, I can’t help feeling that the matter is far from closed. There’s a year until the World Cup, and while we should probably just be grateful to see Ledley on the pitch at all, it seems certain that as long as he is playing for Tottenham he will be courted by Fabio’s mafia.

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