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."

Arsenal – Spurs Preview: The Gallas Conspiracy Continueth

Seasoned visitors to these parts will now that on three occasions each year we simply cannot prophesy doom quickly enough. Away games at l’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd – absolutely positively guaranteed to find the famous “AANP Cheery Optimism Counter” stuck at zero for the duration of the weekend. It’s not just at AANP Towers either – I haven’t met a Spurs fan this week who gives us hope of any more than a draw. In fact, having watched the England match on Saturday I rather fancy I have glimpsed the future and already seen how Saturday’s game will pan out – lots of chaps in white shirts scurrying about with noses in air, trying desperately to get a sniff of the ball, as various French types exchange a few too many slick one-touch passes around our penalty area.The remaining 35 league games of the season I genuinely think we ought to win – all of them – but this is one of the unholy trinity, and I don’t see the pattern changing until I’m grey and old. One never knows though, and while as a fan of many years I have the prerogative to settle down into a grump ahead of this one, I expect nothing less that fire in the belly and passion stirring the souls of the eleven in lilywhite out on the pitch.

 

 

Opportunity Knocks In Absence of Hudd

 

Presumably Monsieur Wenger has hired a sniper, or my conspiracy-theorising, Spurs-supporting chum Ian is right, and William Gallas really is still on the l’Arse payroll with strict instructions to search and destroy, because the Hudd is now out of action too. Forever, from what I can glean.

 

If there is a silver lining to this, or indeed a straw at which to be groped with blind hope, it is the curious trait developing in ‘Arry’s reign for all manner of prodigal sons to come racing back into the fold, make themselves at home and transform into uber-beings of their former selves. This time last year Vedran Corluka was still waddling around the White Hart Lane turf, and Gareth Bale was about to shipped off to Nottingham Forest, while as recently as this summer just about 50% of Spurs fans had wiped Alan Hutton’s very existence from their memories. Since then Bale has become the white Pele and Hutton has established himself as the pick of our back-four, whilst possibly the last two chaps we ever thought would form our central defence have formed the bedrock of a win over Inter.

 

The point of this little warble is that Hudd’s absence will neatly open the door to some other lucky blighter, and history suggests that the next three months might therefore be the making of Jenas, Sergeant Wilson or Sandro. Indeed, whisper it, but Jamie O’Hara is still officially a Tottenham Hotspur employee. The mind boggles.

 

4-4-2 vs 4-5-1: The Defoe Edition

 

The merits and less meritorious facets of 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 were given a slightly lop-sided airing on these very pages last weekend, but the question now has a cunning twist, as the messenger pigeons come bearing news that Jermain Defoe has been sighted with jaws locked in a chomp around what is widely known as the bit. Marvellous news I’m sure you will agree, but how does this fit with the head-hurting permutations of 4-4-2 and 4-5-1.

 

Earlier this season on England duty Defoe played atop the formation, with Rooney in a VDV-esque position in the hole, and the entire thing turned into a neon-lit success – yet it seems rather unlikely that such a vertically-challenged type as Defoe will be asked to lead the line as lone striker in a 4-5-1.

A more feasible scenario would be Defoe trotting out with a bona fide striker alongside him, which would suggest Princess Pav or the wretched Crouch in a 4-4-2 (with VDV adopting that suspiciously central “right flank” role once more). Not tomorrow perhaps – away to l’Arse it seems almost certain that we will go with 4-5-1, and quite probably shunt Sergeant Wilson or Sandro into the midfield, in a desperate effort to get close to Fabregas and his chums as they triangle themselves to death -, but longer-term the return of Defoe gives us a fresh option, and a forward who is a darned sight better than Crouch when it comes to thumping the ball goalward when presented with a chance.

 

Defoe or not, there is doleful morbid pessimism around these parts, but by jove I hope that this defeatist stance proves wildly wrong come tomorrow afternoon.

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.

Spurs – Portsmouth Preview: Will ‘Arry Go 2-2-6?

A theory doing the rounds in some quarters is that the crunch games in our push for fourth is not the quartet against the big boys (Man Utd-l’Arse-Chelski-City) but the four against the less glamorous mob – Pompey, Sunderland, Burnley and Bolton. Anything less than three points against each of this lot, so goes the theory, and we really will throw away fourth spot.AANP rather struggles to get its head around all this truth be told, and is likely to be an equal bag of nerves immediately prior to kick-off in each of these games. However, whichever view one adopts, there can be no question that three points is absolutely essential today. (And preferably to be achieved without further injuries). For various reasons – form, quality, O’Hara ineligible – this a mismatch of fairly epic proportions, which ought to be viewed as a chance to fill our boots and add a little sheen to our goal difference.

Team News

 

 

 

 

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

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

Liverpool – Spurs Preview: Rightly or Wrongly It’s Sunny Optimism Round These Parts…

‘Arry has been banging on about the triffic opportunity tonight’s game presents, and he has a point – for without Gerrard and Torres that lot suffer from a lack of both confidence and quality; while clean sheets a-plenty have underpinned some pretty decent recent performances from our heroes. Off the top of my head I can’t actually remember the last time we ever won in the League at Anfield, but having caught snatches of their game against Reading in the Cup last week the place looks more like a wendy-house than a fortress at the moment. As a cautionary note, it is worth bearing in mind that while they are supposedly enduring a nightmare season, they are still only four points behind us. Unfortunately then it is unlikely that they will roll over and let us tickle their tummies (quite a mental image) but a spirit of blisteringly sunny optimism has nevertheless made itself at home in AANP Towers ahead of this one.All sorts of wholesome goodness would flow from a win today. Beating the “top four” teams (admittedly it’s debatable whether the definition of this term still includes Liverpool) is rare enough for our heroes; beating them on their own patch has been, as far as I’m aware, strictly beyond the laws of science. Turning over Liverpool at Anfield would give us renewed belief that we can make the Champs League spots – in much the same way as the opening-day win did in fact. Straying slightly from the point, many of the best chants of the season seem to have been directed at Liverpool, from “You’re supposed to be in jail”, to “You’re just a fat Spanish waiter.” And in more pragmatic terms, a win tonight would open up a seven-point gap over Liverpool, as well as three points over City and five over Villa. Game in hand for our rivals? The way this season has panned out I’d much rather have points on the board.

Strangely, after the frustrations of Hull at home on Saturday I’m even more convinced that we can win tonight. Liverpool, particularly at home, are not going to stick every man and his dog behind the ball and defend for their lives, a hilarious fall from grace though that would be. They will push forward, and leave gaps behind them. A shame then that Lennon is injured, and to a lesser extent a shame that Hudd too is possibly crocked, but the match pattern ought still to suit us relatively well. The absence of Hudd will be an interesting one – in this neck of the woods we’re quite partial to a good old-fashioned whinge about the lad and his immobility, but absence often makes the heart grow fonder, so I’m intrigued to see whether we are obviously weakened (or indeed strengthened) without him. This could be a rare start for Jenas, or possibly even O’ Hara, while a mischievous rumour doing the rounds suggests that tonight might be Ledley’s monthly appearance in lilywhite. Whatever the line-up, it’s an upbeat AANP marching into battle tonight.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out on 16 Feb and is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play 

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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Portsmouth – Spurs Preview: The Worst-Case Scenario Unfolds

Well first the bad news. Sergeant Wilson is a likely absentee today after helping Honduras qualify for the World Cup Finals on Thursday. However, he carries possibly the best no-show excuse in the history of the game, as he is returning late on account of having been ordered to stay behind and party, by the country’s ruling military junta. Apparently this cheery lot are also responsible for kicking the President out of the country while he was still in his pyjamas, so when they you tell you to party you ruddy well crack open a beer and fondle a stripper.Apparently Palacios was only due to make it back to England this morning. When he turned up jet-lagged for the Man Utd game last month he ambled around in auto-pilot, picked up an early booking and was taken off at half-time, so he’s unlikely to feature today.

The Worst-Case Scenario Materialises. But It Should Be Ok This Time. 

Jenas has generally received positive reviews for his performances so far this season, notably against Burnley. Now as seasoned followers of this corner of the interweb will know, there is more chance of Hell freezing over than of AANP merrily awarding him gold stars, but certainly by his standards he’s started well this campaign. (There’s the rub, mind – he’s playing well by his standards, and Jermaine Jenas’ standards are Premiership-level, rather than Champions League or international quality… Sorry – I won’t get bogged down in this one again.) He’s generally kept things ticking over in midfield and retained possession sensibly enough, although his safety-first approach of backwards/sideways still grates, and I maintain that he still does not show the energy one would expect from a quality central midfielder. However, at the moment he is playing at a level good enough to see us through most regular Premiership fixtures, and while it may be insufficient against the top four, if he maintains that form he should help see us through today’s game.

Woodgate won’t return today, despite his recovery from injury, but blessed relief we have our Ledley back. For this alone I back us to win. His return carries the added bonus of allowing the Hudd to move back into midfield, in timely fashion too given Sergeant Wilson’s likely absence.

Friends Reunited 

Mercifully, somebody somewhere made sure that young Three-Touch O’Hara is ineligible for this one, so no need to worry there, and apparently the curiously-shaped ex-Spur Michael Brown is also in Pompey’s ranks these days. However, if anyone should worry about the return of former employees it ought to be the Pompey back-line, faced by a red-hot Defoe and Crouch, even if the latter is by no means guaranteed to start.

Pompey are propping up the table, although by all accounts they are playing far better than their position suggests. Nevertheless, excuses won’t be tolerated today dagnabbit – if we are serious about a top-six finish (and a quick, albeit unscientific poll reveals that we are) then nothing less than three points is acceptable today, particularly as AANP has global bragging rights at stake with its New Zealand-dwelling Pompey supporting chum. Scoring goals is no problem, and with Ledley back I fancy us to be fairly secure at the back.

 

Chris Waddle is the latest player to be featured in the forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, and you are invited to share your memories of him here. As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the other featured players: Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Modric, O’ Hara & A Last-Minute Winner – The Long Weekend at Spurs

Well that’s why it’s called All Action, No Plot.Away for one little weekend break, in the land of Erik Edman (note to eligible bachelors the world over – do Stockholm. No ifs, no buts – do Stockholm) and 48 hours later I return to find that all hell seems to have broken loose at White Hart Lane.

Luka 

Luka has broken a bone. Cancel everything. This is serious. No surgery needed – apparently he will be fixed by wearing a magic boot for the next six weeks – but anguished weeping and gnashing of teeth nevertheless echo around the walls of AANP Towers.

Only a couple of weeks ago I hastily cobbled together a ten-point wish-list for the season, and while most of the issues included were streams of consciousness rather than absolute ruddy imperatives, one point rather leapt from the page:

 

Look After Modric And Palacios Like Our Lives Depend On It
Our squad is looking impressive this season, with a couple of players competing in every position. However, Modric and Palacios are simply a class above, and as such are irreplaceable.,,, great lengths must be taken to avoid so much as a bee sting befalling them.

Not exactly rocket-science I admit, but I still wish extreme measures had been taken to preserve his fitness. Instead, rather than setting up an orb-shaped force-field around our Luka, some bright spark let him go near Lee Bowyer of all people.There is still plenty of creativity in the side – Lennon, Keane and the Hudd all contribute in their own special little ways – and we will still pick up points in his absence. There are also plenty of possible replacements out on the left – Keane, Giovani and Bentley spring to mind, and it’s possible that by the time you read this we might have yanked in Man City’s Petrov as an ad hoc replacement. So we will definitely take to the field with eleven players next time out, which is nice to know – but that’s not really the point.

Modric is that bit better than the alternatives and understudies, and most other players in the Premierhship. While he can still be slightly peripheral in that left-sided position, even though given carte blanche to wander infield, he is nevertheless always capable of sparking something every time he gets the ball. To be without him for the Man Utd and Chelski games is particularly galling. If something were now to happen to Palacios as well, I think those passing by AANP Towers will be treated to the undignified sight of a grown man openly weeping.

O’ Hara to Pompey 

The move to Portsmouth was announced at just about the same moment as the lad penned a new contract keeping him at the Lane until 2013, so he evidently remains part of the longish-term set-up. I am inclined to think that he might therefore have instigated the loan move himself, just to keep the blood circulating until the new year.

It appears that the Hudd has won the fight for the central midfield spot alongside Sergeant Wilson, at least until Jenas returns to fitness. O’ Hara would therefore have spent most weeks at Spurs twiddling his thumbs on the bench, with only the odd ten-minute cameo here and there. And so on; to repeat, it makes sense for him. In theory quite like the idea.

However, in practice it now leaves us suddenly a touch light in midfield. With Modric now joining Jenas in sick-bay, and Zokora long-gone, one more injury and somebody somewhere will have to thump the red alert button. As the transfer window ticks down, I suspect the issue may have been pointed out to management at the Lane.

Kevin Prince-Boateng Also to Pompey 

Spurs 2-1 Birmingham: Not A Match Report, I Didn’t See It

So amidst all the madness, there was also a football match. By all accounts the win was just about deserved on balance – apparently we made and missed more chances than they. I’m rather chuffed to hear that Birmingham set out to counter us with a nullify-and-frustrate 4-5-1. That’s the sort of treatment reserved for the big kids in the playground.

News of a ninety-fifth minute winner also prompted a cackle of satisfaction. Every game this season I have found myself harking back to the not-too-distant past, and remembering how Spurs teams of yore would have done so much worse than the current lot in an identical situation.

This week: Spurs teams of yore would have indeed undone the hard work of over an hour, by conceding an equalizer just minutes after taking the lead. However, previous Spurs sides would then probably have conceded a scrappy second in stoppage time. (Which we nearly did, admittedly). For us instead to go gamboling up the other end and pilfer the winnings ourselves suggests, yet again, that we’re getting the hang of this football lark.

It’s still early, but if at the end of the season we find ourselves challenging the top six or more, this is the sort of game at which we will all earnestly point as an example of how much steelier we are this year.

Plan B 

’Arry rarely needs an excuse to bang the Peter Crouch drum, and since Saturday he’s been making the quite valid point to Don Fabio Capello that the gangly one is a great option from the bench. Very fair point. He does indeed add something different, and one can well imagine how his arrival as a second half substitute must be greeted by tiring defenders who have spent all afternoon chasing the shadows of Keane and Defoe. As I noted when we signed him, his value as an impact-sub was perfectly illustrated in the fantastic England-Argentina friendly of late-2005:

 

With England trailing 2-1 Crouch was slung on for the last few minutes, and managed to make a sufficient nuisance of himself at crosses for Michael Owen to steal in with a couple of late goals.

Crouch as Plan B – no problem with that. However, there is a rumour gathering momentum that he is about to become Plan A. Not so sure about that.With Modric out, it may actually be forced upon us – Keane switching to left midfield would naturally open a door for Crouch. However, if it means we starting pinging long-balls into orbit from the off, I’d rather not.

 

The invitation is still open to share your memories of White Hart Lane legends, in anticipation of Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book that rather does what it says on the tin. Feel free to add your memories of Jimmy Greaves here, of Jurgen Klinsmann here and Clive Allen here

Doncaster 1-5 Spurs: Smooth Enough In The End

We would have settled for a win by hook or by crook or by penalties, but another five-goal salvo does no harm. For some curious reason, I also beam with a vaguely paternal sort of pride at the fact that five different names were scrawled across the scoresheet. It’s strangely wholesome.It all went smoothly enough in the end, although that might have been a different story had Carlo Cudicini not been alert and sprightly from the off. Concession of a goal within the first two minutes would have made for a fun night out, and seen a few oaths escape the lips of the great and good in the Tottenham dugout. However, the moment passed and things went pretty much according to plan thereafter.

Midfield Goodness

It’s a good day to be a Tottenham midfielder who is fighting for a regular starting spot and who happens to be perusing AANP, as I’m in liberal-compliment mode. The Hudd-O’ Hara central midfield combo looked impressive. All action, but complemented by a decent grasp of the plot.

Not for the first time this season, it struck me that Hudd is showing a willingness to get stuck in, and long may that continue. It ought only to be communicated by a quizzical look than by words, or at best by a sotto voce whisper, but is the Hudd… well, you know… adding to his all-round game? Too early to tell, but the concept keeps gnawing away at me.

Wide on the right there was a good attitude from the brylcreem boy, who looked suitably chastened following his misdeeds of recent weeks. His rare appearances in a Tottenham shirt seem to have been typified by a desperation to become Pele every time he touches the ball, but he worked hard and effectively yesterday. He still hasn’t exactly purged the show-boating from his system. It is like a fancy form of tourette’s – sometimes, he just can’t help himself. Nevertheless, yesterday’s was certainly one of his better performances in a Tottenham shirt.

Giovani also gave a few glimpses of what he can do. Personally I would love to see him remain at the club and be given a few chances on the left, as last night served as a reminder that he’s full to bursting with talent. If you happen to be up a tree, George McFly style, eyeing me through binoculars while I type – well first of all I’d be pretty disturbed, but after you’ve explained yourself to the police you’ll pause and reflect that I typed that bit about Giovani with a rather distant look on my face, indicating a temporary removal from reality. Back on planet earth the truth is that tricks and party-pieces are fine against Doncaster, but cutting it regularly in the Premiership will be a different kettle of fish; to say nothing of the murky rumours about his attitude, tardiness, etc; or indeed how he is supposed to fit in when Modric is the left-midfield incumbent.

Still, I’m not paid to solve such a conundrum. I just slip effortlessly into my role as armchair critic, from which vantage point it would be great to see Giovani somehow given greater involvement with the first team. Someone else can sort out the details.

Onwards 

Good to see Crouch get his first for the club. Might that have been Pav’s last goal in lilywhite (yes, yes, I’m aware it was yellow, you pedants)? I hope not. Generally pleasing to see that we’ve got genuinely capable understudies in just about every position. Onwards.

Doncaster – Spurs Preview; Plus Some Tottenham Transfer Musings

Well truth be told I’ve found this all a little unsettling so far. Top of the league, three wins in three – and looking good value for it too. This is not the Tottenham I grew up with. The Tottenham I know and love would consistently let me down. Capitulate from positions of seeming invulnerability. Turn calamity into an art-form. Naturally then I’m unsettled by our new approach – destroying all challengers, that sort of thing. Been anxiously peering out of the windows of AANP Towers checking for cracks in the sky and the rumblings of four horsemen.Blessings upon the gods therefore, for bestowing upon us the Carling Cup second round, and an opportunity to return to the far more familiar and comfortable surroundings of humiliation. Top of the league; finalists in the last two seasons; team stuffed full of internationals; and Doncaster away on a Wednesday night. Perfect ingredients for a cup upset.

Our glorious leader is almost certain to play our second-string eleven, and quite rightly too, given the rigours of the opening week of the season. However, I hope that any sense of indifference conveyed by this decision does not permeate down to the players. After the blistering start to our league campaign the game against Doncaster is being viewed as a breather from the rigours of the Premiership. I just hope the players, and indeed management, don’t let our Premiership start obscure the fact that the Carling Cup represents a great chance of silverware, particularly as we have no European campaign this year. I’ll only whisper it, but sooner or later we’ll probably be toppled from our perch atop the table. A trophy this season is realistic – but it won’t be that one we saw Rio waving around last May. Therefore, maximum effort in the Carling Cup please chaps, starting tonight.

The chaps in question might well include Hutton, Naughton; Rose, O’ Hara, Bentley, Giovani; Crouch and Pav. Our squad is unusually solid this season, with two decent players competing for just about every position, and this lot ought to be too strong for Doncaster – but then player quality has never really been the problem at Spurs

Transfer Gubbins

Curious transfer talk doing the rounds at the moment, although nothing concrete (’twas ever thus, I suppose).

Modric – Carrick Swap 

Pav Back to Russia

I would rather like to see him given a run of games, but the Keane-Defoe thing is working at the moment, and Crouch is evidently ‘Arry’s first reserve. Listen to him field any questions about our strikers, and he’ll lavish praise upon the diddy-men, tell everyone how triffic Crouch is… and then almost as an afterthought add “…and we’ve also got Roman Pavluychenko, so that’s four top quality strikers…”. He doesn’t seem to rate him, and with a World Cup at the end of the season, I’ll stick a rouble  or two on Pav taking offski in the search for first-team football. Shame.

Honduran Chap On Trial 

Pardon my cynicism. I know nothing about the lad. He’s on trial, he’s a centre-back, ‘Arry’s having a look at him – such are the facts, but I have nothing to offer in terms of opinion. Also eyeing up Sandro Ranieri apparently, a £14 mil defensive midfielder. Seems a lot for a probable Palacios understudy (or maybe occasional partner) but I like the idea of having a ready-made Palacios replacement in our ranks. However, as with all these rumours, official judgements in these parts will have to be suspended until something actually happens.

Chimbonda to Blackburn 

 

The invitation is still open to share your memories of Spurs’ Cult Heroes, for a forthcoming book. This week we’re looking at Clive Allen, so please do share your thoughts– first impressions, favourite goals, crowd chants – as well as any meetings you may have had with the man off the pitch, right here. Memories of Jimmy Greaves here and of Jurgen Klinsmann here

Spurs 2009/10 Preview – Ten Aims For The New Season

So, it’s once more unto the breach, for the new season is upon us. The friendlies are done, fantasy league teams picked – all that’s left is for AANP Towers to rustle up a list of top ten aims for season 2009-10, and then we can get cracking…1. European Qualification

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, from City, Villa and Everton as well as l’Arse. However, we ought to finish above a couple of those. Given the squad we now boast, and the absence of European distraction, anything less than Europa League qualification would be a disappointment.

2. 50 Goals From The Strikers 

3. Avoid Long-Ball Overkill 

4. Clean Sheets

 

5. Four-Four Draws 

6. A Song For Jenas 

7. Look After Modric And Palacios Like Our Lives Depend On It 

8. Hudd and O’ Hara to Come of Age 

9. Give The Kids A Chance 

10. Keep Ledley Fit 

11. More Insane Transfer Rumours 

 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes
Final opinions sought on the top 20 Spurs Cult Heroes – players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club. The majority pick themselves, but still some debate over the final few – Waddle? Teddy? Gilzean? White? Freund? Conn? Lineker? Burkinshaw? Have a read here, and voice your opinion.

Spurs Sign Young Full-Backs – But Will We Ever See Them?

So, our first signings of the summer are announced – and rather curiously they are more full-backs. The trendily-named Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker – 20 and 19 respectively – may sound like characters from Starship Troopers, but they are now lilywhites, plucked from Sheff Utd for anywhere between 5 and 10 mil, depending on which website you trust.In theory it’s rather a charming idea – buying up the cream of young English talent, and watching with paternal pride as they break into our first team and blossom into seasoned internationals. It’s vastly preferable to the dastardly Wenger’s any-nationality-but-English policy, or Man City’s excitement-sapping approach of buying up every striker available. I’m also rather illogically chuffed that we snatched Naughton and Walker right from the paws of Everton – suckers.

In practice however, this makes little sense. We collect full-backs like train-spotters collect – well, whatever it is train-spotters collect. Anoraks or something. Corluka, Hutton, Assou-Ekotto, Bale, Chimbonda – anyone I’ve forgotten? O’ Hara could probably do a job at left-back. Gilberto might still be at the club. With the best will in the world, I really cannot see Naughton and Walker leap-frogging all this lot to get anywhere near the first team in the next couple of years.

Actually, the Walker business might work, as he is being loaned straight back whence he came, to Sheff Utd. Smart move. He’ll get regular first-team action, in a team with which he is already au fait, and hopefully he will progress accordingly. If he does so, we can merrily pluck him back.

Naughton however, has effectively put his career on hold for a couple of years. He may have made the PFA Championship Team of the Year, but his career is almost certainly about to regress. ‘Arry has not shown any inclination to blood our youngsters, other than when he was trying to write off our Uefa Cup campaign last season. Cast your minds back to the end of last season, and a mystifying aspect of his tenure was his absolute refusal to make substitutions. Even when we were imploding towards a 5-2 defeat at Man Utd, despite having internationals on the bench, he would not make a change until the game was up in the final 5 minutes or so.

’Arry won’t introduce our kids as subs, and he most certainly won’t throw them into the starting line-up. He has shown little willingness to gamble on the likes of Taarabt and Giovanni, and I would be mightily surprised if Rose, Obika or Bostock were given decent runs in the team at any point this season. The likes of Hudd, Lennon, Carrick and even Jenas are examples of how young talent can break into the first team – if given an extended run. However, there is little to suggest that this will happen under Redknapp, particularly in Naughton’s position as full-back.

I’m not exactly renowned for the accuracy of my prognostications, but I’m willing to stick my neck on the line and predict that for Naughton’s Tottenham career we need look no further than Chris Gunter. To be honest I give Gunter credit for escaping before the staleness got to him and withered him away. After 18 months and 16 appearances he has seen enough and taken off, leaving us none the wiser as to whether he would have made the grade at Spurs. It pains me to write these words, as I still recall the quite stupendous start to his Spurs career, but I see Bale similarly either being pushed or jumping from the good ship Tottenham, due to lack of opportunity.

I very much hope to be proved wrong in time. I would like to see what this Naughton chap can do for us. More broadly, I would love to see us become a club that develops young talent. And I reiterate – in theory, the signing of these promising youngsters, and the willingness to spend big money on English talent, is a cracking idea. The nagging suspicion remains, however, that in practice we are not the sort of club (and ‘Arry not the sort of manager) to blood these kids, and that neither they as players nor we as a club will benefit. Which rather begs the question – why has Redknapp signed Naughton and Walker?

 

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