All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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Spurs’ Summer Doings Viewed From A Beady AANP Eye

What ho! That all happened in rather a flash of Euro gubbins and fuzzy Olympic bonhomie, no? For those still drawing breath at the madness of it all I advise a jolly swift inhalation, for that clattering of hooves without is Season 2012/13, entering stage right at a gallop.Ave atque vale 

Changes elsewhere as well, if the rumours are to be believed. A new kit has been launched, to a collective shrug across the land from those who only ever really cared about the Umbro ’91 effort. Truth be told I can barely muster the enthusiasm to comment on the switch to white shorts, for they are welcome to play in bin-liners if it helps them outscore all and sundry.

More interestingly, in a cunning bid to bring to the dressing room that sultry female physio from Chelski, Daniel Levy elbowed ‘Arry down the High Road and into the sunset, replacing him with the alarmingly young acronym AVB. Few at AANP Towers sniff at ‘Arry’s achievements at the Lane, but a suspicious eyebrow was raised at his shimmying and hip-swinging over the England job, as well as the Pontius Pilate-esque washing of hands at our tired limp along the final furlongs of last season. While there is a degree of apprehension around the appointment of the new chap it seems only right to bid him welcome and let him crack on with life, and as such he has an AANP hand placed quite firmly underneath his posterior for support.

Formation 

Central midfield ought to be a forte, as between Parker, Sandro, Livermore, Hudd, Sigurdsson and VDV we seem fairly well-stocked in ball-caressing possession hogs, and the back four are sprightly enough to adapt to AVB’s high defensive line. Indeed, the prospect of a Kaboul-Vertonghen pairing, with Daws and Caulker (plus Gallas, if retained) feverishly twiddling thumbs in anticipation from the bench, helps to assuage the pain of Ledleylessness.

Erm… a centre-forward? 

Other personnel 

Out the exit door marches Master Pienaar, upon whom we have somehow made a profit. Elsewhere, Ms AANP has hurtled up the list of AANP’s Favourite Croats, by virtue of the rather rummy conduct of Modders (now edging perilously close to a stern talking-to from AANP), as well as the exits of his turbo-charged compatriots Kranjcar and Corluka. Dovi?enja chaps. One suspects that fond farewells may also be sobbed by Gomes, Bentley, Gallas, Giovani and, if the footballing gods are feeling particularly benevolent, The Lord of All Things Sideways and Backwards.

Further signings will presumably be signed, and mercifully the injury-list is currently limited to Parker, but nevertheless it appears that once again our heroes will trundle out for the first act a few 80s action heroes short of a Hollywood blockbuster. So be it. The time for daring and doing approacheth.

 

 

Spurs 1-0 Rubin Kazan: Somehow…

Me neither. In fact, I’m not sure there is a soul alive who understands quite how we managed to toddle off from that with a win, but bearing in mind the perils that lurk within the mouths of gift-horses I suggest we stuff the three points under our jumpers and sneak off before anyone notices.It might be an idea for Jake Livermore and Sebastien Bassong to bond over a Jason Statham DVD night or some other such bromantic activity, because last night neither seemed to be aware that the other was of the same species, let alone the same centre-back pairing. The Russians had a fair amount of joy poking and prodding at this soft and squidgy underbelly of ours, and frankly had enough possession and chances to wrap this up well before the last person left and the lights were switched off. Not for the first time AANP is left to muse that the difference between our mob and esteemed opponents is a sprinkling of class in attack.

While here I may as well cast an eye over the various performers of last night, before they are stuffed back in their packaging to warm the bench during Premiership games.

Older Heads

Make no mistake there were good saves from crazy, crazy Gomes, saves that secured our win, but he managed in 90 minutes to deliver more completely unnecessary scares than Friedel has done in seven full games to date. A line of thought is beginning to develop around these parts that the better the ‘keeper the less AANP notices him.

Meanwhile AANP continues to scratch its head in bafflement at Giovani. Admittedly the Spurs website runs a line propaganda that would have made that Comical Ali chap blush, but every time Giovani returns from international duty it is to tales of wondrous success and match-winning heroics emblazoned across tottenhamhotspur.com. Presumably ‘tis his evil and slightly more mundane twin turning out for Spurs in the Europa League, because the name aside there has been little about him to suggest any particular Latin panache.

Da Yoof

Young Carroll had a cracking game in the centre, so neat, tidy, skilful and sensible that he might have had the letters M-O-D-R-I-C emblazoned across his back. Kyle Walker also excelled, whatever his limitations as a natural defender he expiated with oodles of bona fide jet-heeled pace. Out on t’other flank young Rose, for all his earnestness, was less wondrous in his doings – although a high-five is waved at him for fine and noble feet jinkery to win the crucial free-kick. BAE can sleep untroubled in the short-term at least, safe in the knowledge that his left-back spot is under minimal threat (not that there is likely to be much that causes the His Royal Unflappableness to lose his nightly shut-eye).

La Donna e Mobile 

AANP’s various fun-filled escapades in the world of courting have introduced him to a range of female types, amongst the most incomprehensible of whom are those whose moods and behaviour swing wildly from one extreme to another at far less than the drop of a hat. Thus is Pav afflicted, for when good, as yesterday, he can be very good; and when bad, he is a whiny exasperating pest. Like one of AANP’s more temperamental would-be paramours, Pav was in buoyant spirits from the off yesterday, keen to fox Russia’s watching millions into believing that he is the main

??????? in Premiership circles. Cue a performance of threat, a cracking goal and a general level of interestedness of which I had rather forgotten him capable.Add to all that a fair degree of luck, and Younes Kaboul producing the best cameo since Ben Stiller popped up with a ‘tache in Anchorman, and ultimately it turned into the three points that probably ought to see us through to the next stage of this interminably long saga. Lovely stuff.

Spurs 3-1 Shamrock Rovers: Shredding One’s Season Ticket

Presumably there were some onlookers last night so enraged by our inability to score as the game wore on last night that they tore up their season tickets at half-time, their apoplexy no doubt reaching such levels when we actually fell behind that they chopped off their own feet and howled for the entire team to be sacked. All things considered however it was fairly satisfactory stuff.For all our inability to score we plugged away in commendable fashion, boxes were ticked, pressure was applied, shots were shot. Indeed, that we fell behind was hardly due to any failing on our part (although I suppose Cudicini might have palmed away the free-kick in a manner less inviting of trouble).

Defoe and Giovani (just about) toddled off with ticks against their name, Lennon and Rose got used to the whole concept of green stuff underfoot and small white sphere once again, and, perhaps most pleasingly, Livermore and Carroll trundled through in fairly steady manner. It was not quite as smooth as a well-versed line delivered by a lounge-suit wearing silkworm at 9pm on Friday night, what with going behind to the Irish part-timers and all, but in the rich tapestry of Season 2011/12 it will be delineated as a fun, relatively low-key step in the right direction. Which, let’s face it, is tickety-boo. Roll on the big one.

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.

PAOK – Spurs Preview: Babysitting Duties

‘Tis held in some quarters that as a whippersnapper the schoolboy ‘Arry would wile away his hours yelping “Wolf!” with tedious regularity, but on Saturday even the cynics amongst us realised that his “bare bones” mantra could be objectively verified. The adage has it that actions speak louder than words, so when young Giovani was shoved out onto the pitch for a few minutes it became evident that ‘Arry spoke sooth, and our lot really were struggling for personnel. (I’m rather a fan of Giovani as it happens, but that particular can of worms sits aside from the point at hand).While Modders, Bale, Parker and Adebayor are firmly ensconced within great big blankets of cotton wool, back at North London HQ –  and VDV has been excluded altogether from the personnel list for the entire group stage of the Europa League – señor Giovani will join forces with Masters Kane, Carroll, Livermore and chums, to unleash the sort of youthful assault on the senses not seen since unkempt, pre-pubescent beat combo Hanson stormed to the top of the charts. It won’t all be acne and high-pitched voices though, as Pav, Bassong and Corluka will have to suffer the ignominy of babysitting duties tonight, while poor old Gomes has precious little to gain from a one-off appearance like this – play well and it will matter not, Friedel will return on Sunday; but drop a clanger and the pace at which he is chivvied towards the exit door will increase.

While the name is familiar enough, from various European competitions of yesteryear, I confess my knowledge of PAOK Salonika is minimal, and frankly, without wanting to irk the UEFA suits unduly, there is little to suggest that that tonight’s fixture will imprint itself indelibly in the minds of all those who scramble out of the office in time. With a further 15 games (I think) to go in order to win this trophy ‘Arry’s attitude of plain irritation towards it is understandable, and given that the kids are out in force an away draw – with no further injuries – would probably constitute a decent result.

Gentle Musings on Spurs’ Summer

What ho, and how wonderful to reconvene in such happy circumstances, for glory be, the new season will up and runneth soon enough. Huzzah! Surging left-wing runs, infuriatingly aimless headers, goalkeeping howlers, near-suicidal-but-ultimately-ok left-backery, oodles of Sky Sports stats, European adventures on Channel 5 and, of course, madcap, all-action seven-goal thrillers and the like. Again I screech from the rooftops, glory be. Emerge ye, pale and emaciated from the interminable summer months minus football, and bask in the warm glow of lilywhite once more.In common with on-pitch exploits, things in this neck of the interweb rather tailed off at the end of last season – apologies – and by way of admonishment AANP now currently swims resignedly every day against a heaving tide of spam. Still, onwards and upwards. For season 11/12 our heroes look even more polished and shinier than before, like some sort of re-booted Hollywood film series.

Massive, Gob-Smacking Marquee Transfers 

Thus it transpires that despite needing a great big hulking brick outhouse of a striker capable of sticking out his rear-end, holding up the ball, elbowing aside various defensive types and thumping the little orb netwards, our transfer chiefs have instead tootled along in silence as Messrs Pav, Crouch, Defoe and even Keane return to Spurs Lodge to practise spraying the ball anywhere but the goal.

We have made one attacking signing, a whippersnapper by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, who is reportedly fresh from scoring about 15 goals in five minutes at the U-17 World Cup. Underwhelming news for all those who have followed the careers of Tomas Peckhart, Adel Taraabt, Giovani et al.  While I have dropped down on bended knee to plead to the gods of football fate that this chap does in fact turn out to be the second coming of Drogba, I am tempted to stick a fiver on him going on loan to the Championship and popping up at Lyon in four years time, before randomly appearing for AC Milan in the Champions League. Either way, this is unlikely to be his season.

Elsewhere, ‘Arry’s commitment to signing sackloads of decent players we don’t really need has extended to the goalkeeping position. Hard not to like Brad Friedel, but I’m not sure he is the solution to anything in particular. Still, if the best way to stop Gomes flapping around is to employ a genial bald yank to wheeze down his neck then so be it.

Modric (Grrr) 

Back to the point. Difficult though it is to fathom, we would cope without him – we did a decent enough job following his early season injury vs Birmingham back in 09/10. As such, I would accept £40 mil plus Drogba, perhaps giving you all an insight into why my 9-to-5 job is a million miles removed from running a football club. However, rather than take the cash I would much prefer that Levy keeps his heels firmly dug in for the 27 days of the window, and the clean-shaven Jesus remains a lilywhite come September 1st. Just give us one more season Luka, and get us back into the Champions League…

New Kit 

Indeed, some would very persuasively argue that the launch of a football kit barely deserves comment anyway, but such has been the emptiness of these summer months. We seem to be in neither better nor worse condition than last season (aside from an injury to Sandro, which has me shaking an enraged fist at the screen on my computer box). Still time for changes in personnel, but for now the focus is presumably to get through 90 minutes against Deportivo without fresh injuries. Fingers crossed.

Spurs – Blackburn Preview: Bloodied Limbs As Far As The Eye Can See

Heavens above, have you seen our injury list? What the blazes are they doing to the players in between match days – wrestling with tigers? Jumping through fiery hoops?  Just standing in a big circle thrashing each other with great big iron bars? Whatever the training drills, something has gone horribly wrong, as Bentley, Hudd, Lennon, Keane, Giovani, Daws, Ledders and O’ Hara are all out, and whinging Princess Pav is a doubt (although I am willing to wager that he’ll be tickety-boo come Saturday afternoon).

 

No further injuries amongst the back-four, which I suppose is a good thing, although given the madness of recent games I’m not entirely sure how to greet the news that Gallas and Kaboul will be strolling out shoulder to shoulder on Saturday.

 

Scavenging amongst the bloodied limbs at the training ground, ‘Arry and chums have actually managed to rescue a midfield that retains a rather exciting look, which is a pleasant surprise. Bale, Modders and VDV have all been cocooned in cotton wool, and will be carefully unwrapped and delicately placed out on the pitch. They ought to be joined by Niko Kranjcar, who has been quietly shuffling towards the exit door in recent weeks. The chap’s grumblings of discontent are understandable, but it was unfortunate that he performed quite so anonymously when granted his neon-lit chance at Bolton last week. I fervently hope he excels tomorrow, because although it is difficult to accommodate him within the current starting XI he did enough last season to indicate that he is a quality player, and one very much carved in the Tottenham mould.

 

Three Points! Three Points!

 

One way or another we really ruddy well absolutely have to pick up three points tomorrow. Concerns about our striking deficiencies, the startling regression of Sergeant Wilson and the cracks in our back-four can probably wait for another day. The eleven who take to the pitch are likely to be the only ones not covered in bandages and supported by crutches, so we will jolly well have to accept and support them. The suspicion here at AANP Towers is that l’Arse and Man City will keep dropping points every now and then, but it won’t matter a jot if we grind to a halt at home to the likes of Blackburn each week. Three points, I beseech ye, three points.

Bolton – Spurs Preview: Gareth Bale – “Photogenic”? Really?

Quite a week for Gareth Bale, now universally regarded as being up there alongside Pele, sliced bread, the wheel and opposable thumbs on the list of The Best Things Anyone Has Ever Seen Anywhere, Ever. Unfortunately, and I suppose inevitably, one publication has gone completely overboard in their praise of the chap, the Daily Telegraph going to the ludicrous extent of describing Bale as “photogenic”. Really, that’s what they call him. Here. Golly.

 

I jest. We who worship at the Altar of Bale don’t care a hang for his appearance, as he long as he stays free of injury and retains forevermore that enduring ability to go merrily a-shredding any defence that lays before him. Following the less-than-entirely-successful approach to stopping Bale adopted by Rafa Benitez in midweek, of granting him the freedom of White Hart Lane, it seems likelier that Bolton tomorrow – and every team thereafter – will take leaves out of the books of Everton and Man Utd by doubling up on the poor blighter at every opportunity.

 

As an aside, the boffins here at AANP Towers have mused whether a response to this approach might be to withdraw BAE, switch Bale left-back and move Kranjcar/Modders/AN Other to left midfield. Thus, Bale could begin his runs from inside his own half, reaching a full gallop by the time he is in the opposition half, and making it a tad more difficult for Bolton to latch onto him. Moreover, the presence of Kranjcar/Modders/Whomever already on the left would give the double-teamers something else about which to fret.

 

Admittedly it may not be as scientifically flawless as E=MC², but we will presumably need to adopt some sort of strategy to deal with the extra attention that now seems inevitable.

 

Team Selection

 

In fact, I would not be entirely surprised if ‘Arry opted to rest Bale tomorrow. Following the monumental efforts of Tuesday, one or two changes in personnel are probably to be expected amongst the starting XI, with Bassong, Corluka, Jenas, Sergeant Wilson, Sandro, Pav and Keane presumably all on standby (not entirely sure of the current status of Messrs Giovani and Bentley). While Bale has assumed the mantle of havoc-wreaker-in-chief, the heartbeat of the team on Tuesday was formed by Hudd, Modders and VDV, who between them pretty much controlled the game. Rest may be required for weary limbs, but I do jolly well  hope that at least two of these three trot out for kick-off tomorrow afternoon.

 

Tuesday night’s heroics have done much to restore our reputation as a big domestic – and indeed European – name, a reputation that has been withering away over the last 20 years. However, more glorious European nights are required, and to this end top-four finishes are essential. A draw at Bolton would be a decent result; victory at Bolton would be a top-four result.

(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.

 

Kranjcar?

 

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 – 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.

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