Spurs match reports

Spurs 3-1 Blackburn: Why Can’t Corluka Run Properly?

Like a craggily-bearded convict using the walls of his cell to chalk off the days until freedom, it is with growing excitement that I desecrate the walls of AANP Towers with scribbles signifying another game played, and another win recorded. Nine games to go, and our heroes are fulfilling their side of the bargain. I must confess that at this stage of the season I find myself caring less and less about the style, and more and more about the outcome. Spring has sprung and victories are now paramount, particularly with the injury-list lengthening.

Corluka’s Ridiculous Running Style: A Theorem

Not long ago I went for an unhealthily long run around the streets of North London, the result of which was that for the following two days the inevitably tight hamstrings had me waddling around like a man recently sodomized by a horse. The aftermath of said run gave rise to the notion that perhaps Coluka’s bizarrely laboured, trundling approach is due to the fact that the night before every game he sets off on a half-marathon, leaving him absolutely spent by the time he waddles out in lilywhite. Admittedly it is a hypothesis that might not necessarily withstand the most intense scrutiny, but with each passing game I gaze in utter bemusement at the sight of this top-level professional athlete undergoing such a struggle simply to run.

‘Twas a mixed performance from the Croatian. Now prevented from producing his wondrous link-up play with Lennon, I have taken to viewing the world’s oldest-looking 24 year-old with an increasingly critical eye. As ever his distribution was regularly sloppy; and, as ever, his defensive duties were carried out fairly solidly. On both counts however there was a notable exception today. His was a vital and superb contribution to the opening goal, the intelligent movement in the area and textbook downward header positively Sheringham-esque. Yet on the debit side his penalty area lunge in the first half was thoroughly ill-advised, and might have been deemed a spot-kick on another day.

And On The Subject of Penalty Shouts…

It appears that the impeccable Howard Webb would only have awarded Gareth Bale a penalty if the Blackburn mob had chopped him in half with a chainsaw. The handsome young Welshman was once again outstanding, with Sergeant Wilson also turning in another strong performance. Quite the bonus too that the midfield pitbull negotiated the full 90 minutes caution-free, to avoid an untimely two-game suspension.

Elsewhere on the Pitch

Modders showed a few flashes of class, but again could not really be said to have bossed things from central midfield. Similarly fitful stuff from Kranjcar, although it made a delightful change to see us actually score from a corner, the Croatian’s set-piece delivery on that occasion achieving the rare feat of beating the first man.

Super Pav

Actually “Super” is something of an exaggeration, as on two occasions he swung at the ball with all the mal-coordination of a fat kid in the playground, from not much further than six yards. However, when you’re hot you’re hotski, and our Pav still chipped in with his now customary brace. If nothing else it will bump up his transfer value come the summer.

Is There A “Bad Time To Score”?

Good predatory stuff from Defoe too, to celebrate the return of the Wembley arch atop his pate. Conventional wisdom has it that the closing moments of the first half are “a good time to score”, and whatever the science of that particular theory a half-time lead is always well-received around these parts, for our lot have developed the laudable habit of turning such half-time leads into full-time victories.

Perhaps not vintage Spurs in the final analysis, but a job well done nevertheless. With resources depleted it is quite a relief to shake hands, turn on our heels and wander off into the sunset with three points securely stuffed in our cases. It is three successive League wins now, precisely the adrenaline shot our top-four push required, and with seven days until our next fixture our walking-wounded have some precious time to remove their band-aids and bolster the ranks.

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).

All are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.

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

Spurs match reports

Chelsea 3-0 Spurs: Let The Howard Webb Love-In Begin…

And it had all begun quite encouragingly. Sitting back away from home and soaking up the pressure just isn’t the Tottenham way, so right from the off we took the game to that lot, giving as good as we got in the first half. Jenas, Hudd and Palacios weren’t far off with their long-range efforts, and there was a gorgeous through-ball from Sergeant Wilson to free up Defoe in the early stages. By stages however, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was loosely reminiscent of one of those action films in which everything starts off serenely enough, before one by one the characters are all killed off and by the end it’s complete carnage.Interestingly, ‘Arry opted to replace Modric by pretending the problem wasn’t there and doing away with the concept of a left-winger. To be honest I’m not entirely sure precisely what formation it was – a lop-sided 4-4-2, or maybe a variant on 4-3-3. The players did not make it abundantly clear, and either way there was not much of a presence on the left. Whether or not the deployment of a winger on the left would have at least helped to keep a lid on the Chelski full-backs will go down as one of life’s hypotheticals. Our formation actually worked to an extent in the first half – fluid if a little shapeless, and benefiting from Keane dropping back from attack – but ultimately, irrespective of the formation, we missed Modric’s guile. Jenas and Palacios had their moments, but we lacked a cutting-edge.

Pointing the Finger 

And on the subject of the centre-backs, I’m really not quite sure what happened in the latter stages, as Stamford Bridge started to resemble the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies dropping everywhere, stretcher-bearers working over-time, and the Chelski groundstaff having to sweep bloodied limbs off the pitch at full-time. I doubt that anyone else will want to play centre-back for us now, as the position is clearly cursed.

Penalty Shout 


The hullaballoo over the penalty also glosses over the fact that the second goal was a poor one to concede, as once Cudicini had shovelled the ball sideways two Chelksi players reacted faster than any of our lot. That whole sequence of events – the penalty shout, followed by the strength of Drogba and the sight of our boys casually rocking on their heels as the Chelski forwards gobbled up the scraps – summed things up. Bad luck, bad defending, clinical finishing from the other lot.

Spurs rants

Boo Hiss – The Top-Ten Spurs Villains 2008-09

With transfer tittle-tattle still entrenched in the realms of fantasy and silly-speak, I thought I’d gaze all teary-eyed and nostalgic at the season gone by, and offer a final few reminiscences. The Top-Ten Mistakes and Top-Ten Goals of the season are imminent, but for now gorge yourself – in reverse order, no less – on a veritable gaggle of pantomime villains from 2008-09, at the madcap world that is Tottenham Hotspur FC.10. Fulham – Technicallly, we’re probably better off not qualifying for Europe, as it will almost certainly increase our chances of a top four finish next season. However, this was an argument I blindly ignored in the final few months, as all other contenders fell by the wayside, but the Cottagers consistently kept their noses in front. Gallingly, if Gomes hadn’t blundered back in November, we might well have avoided a 2-1 defeat to Fulham, and would now be dusting off our passports once again.

9. Gareth Bale – An Arsenal conspiracy in human(ish) form, Bale has gone something like 20-plus league games for us, over two seasons, without tasting victory. I’d be mightily disappointed if we flogged him off this summer, as he made a quite blistering start to his Tottenham career, but it has now reached the stage where opposition players high-five one another when they see his name on our teamsheet.

8. Peter Walton – “Who?” cry a thousand voices in unison. “The ref from the Blackburn game in April“, replies the scribe at AANP Towers, before receiving a good kicking for being such a smart-arse. We were cruising at one-nil, as has been our wont (see above) when Walton thought he’d spice things up by sending off Palacios for sneezing in the wrong direction or something similarly innocuous. Grist to Big Fat Sam Allardyce’s mill, it allowed Blackburn to lob long balls into orbit and back down to earth in our area, and two late goals gave that lot an ill-deserved 2-1 win.

7. Robbie Keane – A slightly strange one this. Rather suddenly upped and left for his “boyhood heroes”, which left the more restrained folk of White Hart Lane shaking their heads and tutting, and the rest of us shrieking invective at him until blue in the face. And then he came back, which left us slightly embarrassedly shuffling our feet and changing the subject. Nobody is yet quite sure whether we ought to be cheering for or grumbling at him.

6. The Entire Spurs Team At Burnley – One of the most embarrassing, disgraceful performances any Spurs fan can remember, we contrived to throw away a 4-1 first leg lead, to a team in the division below us, a display every bit as bad as that sounds. Frankly, it left us plain embarrassed to be heading to Wembley, but that’s where we ended up

5. Dimitar Berbatov – Easy to forget that the incredible sulk was a lilywhite at the start of the season. Decided he was way too cool for school last season, hung around to make himself a dressing-room nuisance in pre-season, and didn’t bother with to make any respectful noises on the way out. Some people depart the Lane to a hero’s ovation; Berba we’d have happily kicked all the way down the High Road and far beyond.

4. Failing to Increase One-Nil Leads – Became a particular trend in the second half of the season, when we’d routinely score in the first-half, stack up lots of possession but develop an allergy to a second goal. The result was a slew of unnecessarily tense finales to games that should have been wrapped up, sung lullabies and put to bed, in the process giving kids like Obika and Bostock a chance to shimmy on with the game sewn up. Instead, those collective final ten-minutes of games have been knocking several years of my life. Three points is three points, but this is something to improve upon for next season.

3. Howard Webb – A two-nil lead in the second-half at Old Trafford, and although we were dropping deeper and deeper we just about had the Champions at arms’ length. Cue a pretty dodgy call from the FA’s finest, and Man Utd had a penalty, and a springboard back into the game. We ought not to have fallen apart thereafter, and there’s no telling whether we’d have hung on for victory otherwise, but few dispute it was the turning-point of the game.

2. Rubbish Pre-Season Preparations – Not sure precisely who is responsible for this, but presumably Wendy Ramos ultimately takes the blame. A pre-season that saw us beat everyone we came across, scoring about a trillion goals in the process, counted for absolutely nothing because all those opponents were lower-league Spanish reserve teams or undercooked continentals about three weeks behind us in terms of pre-season. Preparation for the rigours of the Premiership it most certainly wasn’t – something we should have realised when we saw Darren Bent banging them in left, right and centre – and Two-Points-Eight-Games duly followed. Incidentally it’s a mistake now being replicated by the England cricket team ahead of the Ashes.

1. Damian Comolli – Ooh, it makes my blood boil just typing his name. Dodgy signings at inflated prices, and an insistence in interfering in the manager’s role, the blighter darn well almost got us relegated. And how the hell was he qualified, in his mid-thirties and with no decent experience, for the role as Director of Football, or whatever it was, at a Premiership club? Rumours of an Arsene Wenger conspiracy burn brightly here at AANP Towers. Kicked out in October, he’ll be mortified to know that he remains firmly off the AANP Christmas card list.


The AANP 2008-09 end-of-season awards can be found here, and you can join the AANP facebook group here or follow on twitter here-ish.