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Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-3 Chelsea: Four Tottenham Talking Points

1. RIP Jimmy Greaves

Although too young to have seen him myself, the recollections of my old man, AANP Senior – a man so hard to impress that even the win over Real Madrid a few years back left him commenting gruffly that we should have scored more – are telling. Mention Greaves, and his eyes light up with a rarely-seen, almost childlike excitement, as he describes countless goals scored almost casually, assuring me that there simply was never a goalscorer as good as him.

It’s a claim supported by the numbers, which are so easy to take for granted, but on inspection almost defy belief.

While Dad had the privilege of seeing him week in, week out in the flesh (and meeting him outside the ground on one occasion), and I suspect is not alone in citing him as his all-time favourite player, for a generation of us we knew him through Saturday lunchtime television. Hard then to picture him as a goalscorer extraordinaire, but easy to love him as a personality.

A true Tottenham legend, our greatest goalscorer, arguably the greatest goalscorer of them all. Rest in peace, Jimmy Greaves.

2. First Half Positives

And so to the match itself. By the time the curtain came down we onlookers were slumped in our seats, the players were slumped in their spots and our lot as a collective had slumped a little further down the table – it was a pretty strong evening for slumping all round.

And what makes the whole thing taste that much more bitter is that in the early knockings we had gone about things with such bright-eyed and bushy-tailed vigour and purpose.

Given the way things have panned out in recent games I had approached yesterday’s fixture with all the optimism of one of those early Christians being tossed into a den of lions in front of a baying mob. What with our lot unable to muster more than about one shot per game for love nor money, and Chelsea teeming with Tuchels and Kantes and now even Lukakus, it was with a pretty heavy heart that I took my seat and peeled back my hands from over my eyes.

Yet, as mentioned, we came absolutely haring out of the traps.

Nuno sprang a bit of a surprise, both with his team selection and tactics. The return of Sonny obviously helped us look a tad more threatening at the north end of the pitch, while the deployment of Ndombele for Skipp seemed oddly adventurous for a head honcho who had only last weekend reacted to being top of the league by picking three holding midfielders. However, there we were, Ndobmele’s midweek escapades rewarded with a starting berth, and while I suppose some of the more cautious amongst us might have raised a tentative hand and wondered about defensive cover, it appeared that our heroes were being sent to battle with exhortations to attack ringing in their ears.

It so nearly worked, too, dash it all. Kane, Lo Celso and Sonny duly attached themselves each to a Chelsea centre-back, the press was high and the passing often zippy. Indeed, this zippiness of pass owed much to the fact that those not in possession were humming around busily and stationing themselves usefully to become available for a pass. The intensity matched that which we showed against Man City, with Chelsea’s attempts to pass out from the back proving particularly fertile ground for our press, and in short all was right with the world – except that we couldn’t stick the dashed ball into the dashed net.

And while it sounds obvious, that having been well established as the point of the exercise since the game was invented, it created one heck of a problem. No need to delve into too much gory detail as I suppose, as everyone saw what happened next – half-time, Kante, and so on and so forth – but the game-plan, well though it worked, really needed us to take an early lead in order that we might progress to Stage 2, as it were, and cling on to the lead while offering a countering threat.

Instead, in the blink of a second half eye we were two behind, with every last ounce of puff exerted and little clue how to break down a Chelsea defence that were smoking cigars in between the occasional victory in their own personal duals.

While there is much to chide about the second half, both in terms of individuals and the collective, AANP is prepared to break with tradition and just this once look on the bright side of a 3-0 hammering at home. For while the energy levels dropped to zero and the team simply ran out of ideas, the first half – or at least first half hour – gave a hint of the tactical nous and game-plan that might serve us a little better against weaker opponents. While one would not expect the exact tactic (of our front three essentially marking the opposition’s back three) every game, the high press and speed of passing was encouraging.

The chronology of things may have left a bad taste in the mouth, but the positives of the first half hour ought not to be dismissed out of hand.

3. Dele, Lo Celso and Ndombele

That said, nor should what followed be ignored. I don’t attach too much blame for either goal conceded (which I suppose is a tad generous on the opener, as headed goals from corners are eminently preventable), but tactically our lot appeared to consider that the best way to deal with Chelsea was to scratch heads and chase the occasional shadow; and moreover the attitude, from those paid handsomely to stretch every sinew for 90-odd minutes, was pretty half-baked.

Now the above stinging tribute is aimed at most of those on show (Monsieur Lloris perhaps exonerated, Hojbjerg similarly and young Skipp also at least having the dignity to upend a few blue-clad bodies when he was introduced). So when I zoom in on Dele, Lo Celso and Ndombele I want to make clear to my public that this is not to say, by extension, that those others in attendance could walk off with heads held high and breasts swelling with pride.

But Dele, Le Celso and Ndombele seem to attract the spotlight as much because it is hard to fathom what the devil they are supposed to be doing.

Ndombele at least appeared to start proceedings where he had left off in midweek, with the ball attached to his foot as if with string, and the capacity to mesmerise still burning bright within him.

So far, so good, and in fact all three of the above contributed to the first half promise, in their own specific ways. Dele popped up to assist both in defence and moving forward; Lo Celso stuck to his pressing role; Ndombele popped the ball about as required.

But when the leaks started to spring in the second half, none of this lot seemed to do much about it. In fact, they all rather disappeared from view, until reality caught up with perception and Ndombele and Lo Celso were officially removed from proceedings.

And while I suppose there are mitigating circumstances, not least in the fact that Our Glorious Leader has yet to imprint upon the collective an obvious signature style, this will have to go down as yet another game in which I ask of both Lo Celso and Ndombele, “What the devil are they supposed to do?”

Both seem shiny and expensive, and obviously come complete with a whole range of bells and whistles – but what are their optimal positions? Where and how do they best contribute? And, without wanting to revisit the heady days of my philosophy degree – what is their purpose? Both have been wandering the corridors of White Hart Lane for a few years now, and yet I’m not sure any amongst us are any the wiser as to how to use them. It’s pretty frustrating stuff, as both are clearly possessed of decent wedges of talent, but at present they just seem to roll around on the pitch, not quite contributing anything like as much as they ought.

On a vaguely similar note, I’m not hugely convinced about Dele’s supposed reimagining as a central midfielder. He trots around dutifully crossing t’s and dotting the occasional i, but there is still a lot about him of the square peg trying to adapt to a round hole. He is and always was best gliding surreptitiously into the box to nosey around and pick up goals. Putting the onus on him to track back and defend only seems to encourage him to concede free-kicks in dangerous areas; similarly, watching him take all day to pick a pass in midfield does make me occasionally yank at a clump of hair from my scalp.

4. Gil

And briefly, it drifted a little under the radar, but this gave us a first proper eyeing of young Gil at Premier League level, as he was given half an hour or so to work up a sweat.

While one does not pass judgement on half an hour against the current European Champions and quite possibly future Title-winners, there was precious little about the young tick to cause even a slither of excitement. I cannot quite remember how much on top of Lamela we paid for his services, and no doubt the deal was made with an eye on the future – but in the here and now I must confess to watching him and a little wistfully wishing that we could have brought on Lamela instead.

At one point Gil was simply shrugged out of the way by Rudiger like a cat swatting aside a passing rodent, and while in time he will presumably sink a steak or two, it was hardly the game-changing impact for which we were looking.

Nor did Gil do anything at all with the ball at his feet that suggested he might prompt a wrinkle or two to appear across a Chelsea forward.

Brighter days will undoubtedly come, but to finish a game like this wishing we hadn’t sold Lamela seemed a suitably damning conclusion.

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Spurs preview

Young Boys – Spurs Preview: Enjoy The Moment

Ah, Champions League Tuesday. I could get used to this…Admittedly it’s only the qualifier, but this is still Europe’s premier club competition. That music still blares out at the start, and the nifty, starry football logo is still sewn into the shirt sleeves. After all these years of hurt it feels like Moses finally making it to the promised land (if the Israel of biblical times were full of the best footballers in the world, and plastered with obscenely-priced advertising hoardings, and admittedly if Moses hadn’t died just beforehand).

Sunny Optimism 

Team News 

We ought to be quite capable, on paper and indeed on grass (or synthetic fibres, or whatever it is tonight), but with Daws’ shaky England debut last week still fresh in the memory, it seems conceivable that nerves may play a part tonight. Of our current mob Gomes and Crouch have CL experience, most of them toddled off on various UEFA Cup trips in lilywhite a few years back and just about every one of them has played internationally – but this is a different kettle of fish. Still, even if things go a little awry tonight, over two legs we ought to prevail.

Sod The Scoreline – Enjoy The Moment 

While every man and his dog are aware of the importance of begging, stealing or borrowing our way into the lucrative™ group stages, I reckon I could happily die tonight just as soon as I see our lot march out to that Champions League theme tune. Given that we’re not going to win the entire competition (although after reflection last night I reckon we have a better chance of winning the Champs League than the Prem), tonight I plan just to relish the moment. Years and years of false dawns, kamikaze defending, managerial changes and incessant baiting from gooners have all been leading up to this moment. Where Blanchflower, Mackay and Greaves first went, back in the ‘60s, now it’s the turn of Dawson, Bale and Defoe. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.

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Spurs Books Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

EXCLUSIVE – Preview of New Book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes”

What ho. If I’ve been doing this right seasoned visitors to AANP Towers should know that as of this Saturday the book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes” becomes available to buy in shops. To mark the occasion and whet your appetite, I have posted a world exclusive no less – below, for your visual delectation, is the Introduction to Spurs’ Cult Heroes.

Before you dig in, just a few public notices: Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Enfield, this Saturday (6th March), from 12 – 2pm. If you prefer the comfort of your computer-box, the humble tome can also be purveyed at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Introduction

“We Tottenham folk have been spoilt. Admittedly it does not always seem that way, as we look on aghast at our heroes so regularly ensuring that ignominy is snatched from the jaws of glory; or when that rarest of beasts – a settled management structure – is slaughtered, seemingly on a whim, and we have to start again from scratch. However, when dipping nib into ink in order to write Spurs’ Cult Heroes – and even when simply compiling the list of 20 players to be featured – I realised that we have, other the years, have boasted riches of which other sets of fans can only dream. With good reason does Tottenham Hotspur have a tradition for glory glory football, for when one considers the array of talent that has purred around the White Hart Lane turf, it would have been plain lunacy to have adopted any other approach than that of devilish, breath-taking entertainment.

So how to select from the rich band of swashbucklers, goalscorers and servants so loyal that directly beneath the cockerel on their shirt one suspects they also had that same cockerel tattooed on their chest?

It was a glorious conundrum – so, inevitably, I initially went down the Ossie Ardiles route, and tried to include the whole ruddy lot, every player who has ever had the regulars at the Lane gawping in awe-struck wonder. Just as Ossie discovered however, it quickly became evident that this Tottingham line-up just would not accommodate quite so many big names. In a moment of realisation that has no doubt struck countless Spurs managers over the years, I reluctantly concluded that for all the wonderful talent available, some semblance of order would be necessary in order to set the wheels in motion.

For a start, all those featured had to rank amongst the very best White Hart Lane has seen; no room for those players whose glaring inadequacies we gloss over just because we love them and they love us. A stringent criterion perhaps, but after over 125 years of trophies, goals, loyalty and downright mind-boggling flair, it seemed a legitimate parameter. (As a crucial addendum, such greatness must have been achieved in a Spurs shirt, rather than, say, from the halfway line whilst adorned in the colours of a Spanish outfit – even if the victims were that ‘orrible lot from down the road).

Nor was this just to be a list of the 20 best players – they also had to be the sort who, to this day, will make the most foul-mouthed South Stand die-hards suddenly go misty-eyed, and profess their undying love. Popularity counted, a criterion which ought to answer any queries from the Campbell and Berbatov households.

A difficult balancing act? Those of a certain vintage have argued that the task straightforwardly involves selecting the entire Double-winning team of 1961, and throwing in Greaves, Hoddle and Gazza. One appreciates the sentiment, but one vital requirement of the Cult Heroes collection was to capture the long tradition and very essence of the club. Tottenham Hotspur were formed in 1882; won the FA Cup in 1901; became the first English side to win the Double in 1961; the first British side to win a European trophy, two years later; and won the centenary FA Cup Final in 1981. In the words of the White Hart Lane faithful every matchday:

”And if you know your history, it’s enough to make your heart go woo-ooo-oooah…”

An effort has therefore been made to convey this glorious, if allegedly ineffable, history of the club, those elements which make Spurs one of the proudest and most famous teams in the country. I pre-emptively hold up my hands and offer a mea culpa straight away, for the absences of any players from the 1921 FA Cup-winning side (Jimmy Dimmock and Arthur Grimsdell having been popularly supported). Similarly, star names from our first ever League Title-winning team of 1951 (Ted Ditchburn, captain Eddie Baily and Len “The Duke” Duquemin sprang to many minds) are glaring omissions. Naturally, in gauging popular opinion, much of the focus fell upon those from the latter half of the twentieth century, and the content of Spurs’ Cult Heroes reflects this. However, the chapter on Sandy Brown, whose extraordinary goalscoring feats helped bring the FA Cup to White Hart Lane in 1901, is aimed at conveying the sense of the club in its nascent years, as well as paying tribute to an individual Cult Hero. Likewise, the late, great Bill Nicholson, whose association with the club spanned over 60 years, was a member of the 1951 League Championship winners, and deference is duly shown to this team in the relevant chapter.

Of those not included in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, few players had their credentials promoted quite as vigorously as John White. An attacking midfielder, White was crucial in driving Spurs to the Double in 1961 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, but was tragically killed on 21 July 1964, when struck by lightning whilst sheltering under a tree at a golf course. That he is not included amongst the final 20 is due primarily to the quality and popularity of so many of his peers. The list already includes Blanchflower and Mackay, as well as Cliff Jones and the manager of that glorious team, Bill Nicholson, not to mention Jimmy Greaves, signed in the winter of 1961. While White’s case for inclusion was strong, it was felt that another member of the team from that era would skew the balance of the final list; but such an opinion is by no means definitive.

Others conspicuous by their absence include Lineker, Sheringham, Crooks and Archibald, while wide-eyed rants of fury were also directed this way for the omissions of Cameron, Ditchburn, Ramsey, Smith, England, Coates, Peters, Neighbour, Conn, Thorstvedt and Freund, to name but a handful. The compilation of the final list of 20 was rather unscientific at times, but a huge number of opinions were sought and reminiscences collected.

Disagreements about the personnel may be inevitable, but it is to be hoped that Spurs’ Cult Heroes does at least capture much of that tradition of the club – not just the silverware, but all those other factors unique to Spurs. Football played “the Tottenham way”. Glorious European nights at the Lane. Gleaming white shirts. Years ending in “1”. Magic Wembley moments. Audere est Facere. Questionable musical offerings. Big-name signings. Exotic foreign arrivals. Flair players; club servants; the occasional hardmen; and goalscorers so prolific you almost wanted to offer a consoling pat on the shoulder of the hapless goalkeeper who would soon be left wondering what had hit him.

Tottenham Hotspur’s history is packed with heroes. If the White Hart Lane turf could speak – well, I would like to think it would pretty much read from these pages.”

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

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

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Spurs match reports

Spurs 4-0 Bolton: ‘Arry’s Newfangled Concept Works A Treat

It was just like old times, those sepia-tinged, heady days of late-summer 2009, when rubbish teams would traipse up to the Lane and be promptly destroyed, with our heroes requiring nothing beyond second gear. From the outset the only worry last night was that we might fail to turn domination into goals, but merrily this was not to be one of those wretched occasions. A job well done, and without breaking sweat.Madness I Tell Ye

The evening began in thoroughly perplexing fashion, with the announcement that Assou-Ekotto was back in the team as well as the boy Bale. Completely discombobulated, AANP and chums frantically bandied around hypotheses in an effort to get our heads around the madness. Were we about to witness 3-5-2? Or Bale as a left-winger? Or a novel – if highly illegal – use of 12 players from the outset?

As it turned out it was nothing more outlandish than BAE at right-back. Some newfangled concept known as “squad rotation” apparently (it will never catch on). We have perhaps been a little spoiled by the frequent gallops, up the length of the pitch and back, by our handsome young Welshman, and last night was a reminder that the braided one is a little more restrained in his attacking forays, but it was still good to see him back in the fold. His reluctance to bomb on and inability to use his right foot had a rather detrimental effect upon poor old Bentley, who through little fault of his own was rendered fairly ineffective, but as events transpired this was no huge loss.

Pav Still Super

The other notable selection was, of course, Pav up-front. It is perhaps a little premature to laud him to the heavens and name the new stadium after him, but in one and a bit games he has done all that could possibly have been expected of him, and certainly looks sharper in front of goal than Crouch ever did. The AANP jury is out on whether he and Defoe qualify alongside Sheringam-Klinsmann, Greaves-Gilzean and Bert-Ernie in the ranks of The World’s Greatest Ever Double-Acts, but while their partnership is hardly telepathic, it has nevertheless now become difficult to drop either.

Daws And Palacios’ Passing Master-Class

”You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction…” 

As it happened though, the rather glorious exception to this yesterday was Palacios’ hand in the second goal, a delightful pass into the danger-zone. As with Bale in the second half, it is easy to chuckle at the buffoonery of the opposition for scoring own-goals, but let us not overlook the cracking delivery of the passes from Palacios and Bale, into areas against which it is jolly difficult to defend.

The All-Star Hollywood Midfield

Amusingly, ‘Arry came over all Ocean’s Eleven in the second half, and decided to cram as many silky superstars as possible into the team, with complete disregard for such ugly notions as tackle and bite. Thus it transpired that Sergeant Wilson was withdrawn, and we were treated to possibly our prettiest midfield ever, ball-players of the ilk of Modders, Hudd, Kranjcar, Gudjohnsen and Bentley alongside one another. It ought to have made for 20 minutes of the world’s most beautiful football, but by then the game was over and they just went through the motions. Rather a shame actually.

Gudjohnsen

Or Sheringham Mk II, if you prefer. He has no real inclination to go sprinting hither and thither, but with those little flicks and disguised diagonal passes he’s clearly far too laid-back for any such plebeian exertion as running. Not sure how he would cope in the hurly-burly of a high-octane Premiership fight to the death, but as a fourth striker he seems a welcome addition to the squad. He adds something very different; will be of value in games in which our front-men find themselves isolated; is of sufficient quality to give one of the other forwards a breather as fixtures pile up (there’s that crazy “squad rotation” concept once more); and adds some much-needed experience to what is generally a young squad.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

More attacking wondrousness from our Bale, again neatly glossing over his occasional defensive deficiency. Another watertight performance from Gomes. It would be easy to ignore, but he shot-stopped and punched impeccably, and made a particularly smart save at 2-0 just before half-time, which might otherwise have made things jittery. Sergeant Wilson became the first Latin American footballer in history to fail to execute perfectly a back-heel. The boy Rose looked good, if one-footed. And so on; we did the bare minimum, and it was more than enough. Fulham away is not easy, but eminently do-able, and suddenly…

[Shameless plug alert] Victory last night means that we’ll be in the Quarter Finals on Saturday 6th March – and also means that Gary Mabbutt’s signing of

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, that same day in Enfield Waterstones, is brought forward to 12 noon. 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 March – but is available to pre-order now from Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as 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

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Spurs match reports

Spurs 9 (Nine) – 1 Wigan: How Defoe Compares to Greaves and Other Cloud Nine Musings

Good grief.Tongue was firmly in cheek last night when I idly typed.

…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. 

However, someone somewhere at the Lane took this far too literally and as a result poor old Chris Kirkland is going to need counselling.It’s only one game, but for now I think we have every right to strut. Back in the day, the old Grandstand vidi-printer on the BBC would churn out results with a comforting robotic facelessness on a Saturday afternoon. Every now and then, amidst the run-of-mill 0-0’s and 2-1’s, a team would score so many that the vidi-printer would have to spell it out as a word in brackets, just to assure disbelieving eyes that it hadn’t gone into meltdown, but that one team really had gone crazy and racked up a rugby scoreline. And today that team is us.

 

 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 9 (NINE) WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 

Kranjcar and Lennon 

Presumably, the little chap in attack will grab most headlines, but from the outset the presence of Kranjcar and Lennon provided a balance, width and shape that was lacking against Sunderland last week. With these two in fine fettle we also had enough inventiveness to avoid any resort to that obscene long-ball nonsense sighted in recent weeks.Kranjcar mixed plenty of classy touches with laudable commitment in chasing and harrying, while Lennon crucially matched the quality of his dribbling with diamond-encrusted end-product. Once upon a time we flung our hands up in despair as a wonderful Lennon run culminated in a woefully misguided cross; today the Midas bug bit him and after repeatedly tearing Wigan to shreds he laid on a selection of final balls from which it would have been plain rude to miss. Good to have you back lad.

The early goal might have heralded a first half barrage, but we eased off the throttle after about 20-25 minutes, and there was a degree of unease in the half-time natterings in some parts of the ground. As it happened though, apart from those slightly wayward 25 first half minutes, the whole midfield purred like an immaculately-maintained Rolls Royce, sometimes just toying with Wigan, other times slicing them apart. It was particularly good to see Sergeant Wilson look once more like his old self, after a slight dip in form.

On other days, when we’re struggling to break down a stubborn defence in a tight game, the shots will bounce off rather than just inside the post (Exhibit A – Kranjcar vs Stoke a few weeks back). Such was the way of things today however, that even a long-range Bentley free-kick squeezed into a gap seemingly no larger than a 10 pence coin.

How Does Defoe Compare to Greaves? 

As one who has never been slow to sing the praises of the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, one James Peter Greaves, I asked Dad at full-time how Defoe compared. “Greaves was trickier with his feet… but Defoe is just as good a goalscorer,” was the considered reply, and although delivered immediately after the final whistle, at a time when euphoria was getting the better of all of us, that’s high praise indeed.

Defoe has some way to go to match a record of 266 goals in 379 games, but by golly he is going about things in the right way. He was an absolute machine today, three of his goals virtually identical, and all absolutely clinical. No messing around with fancy chips and the like, he just stalked the Wigan defence and pounced ruthlessly upon the half-chances.

Criticisms

.

A Penny For Robbie Keane’s Thoughts 

Not as straightforward as that of course, although those with spleen to vent will probably consider that a case can now be made against the inclusion of these two ever again. However, with no-one having to jump through flaming hoops to accommodate Keane we were able to adopt a shape with which everyone appeared comfortable, while the Crouch-Defoe partnership seemed to work well enough from this vantage point.

Keane, it seems, was “rested” rather than dropped, following his midweek 120 minute stint for Ireland. Nine goals suggests it ain’t broke, but ‘Arry may nevertheless be tempted to reinstate Keane for the visit to Villa Park next week.

Our Vanquished Opponents

A handball it may have been for their goal from Paul “Thierry” Scharner, but I doubt there will be too many calls to replay this game. Wigan’s half dozen supporters probably felt relatively perky going into half-time with just the one goal deficit. Bless. Their curious away strip was an affront to the eyes, and as they miskicked and stumbled their way through the second half in ghastly luminous orange, suspicion grew that the fellas out on the pitch were not a professional football team but a hastily-assembled bunch of stewards. If we were all action, they were no plot.

The Warm, Fuzzy Nine-Goal Glow 

Every dog has his day, and even the most barbed rival supporters will simply have to hold up their hands and accept a hitherto unknown level of smugness from us over the next few days. Enjoy.

 

 

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

As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the other players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: 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

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Spurs match reports

Spurs 2-0 Sunderland: Keane’s Contract & Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge

A curious one, this. Back in the days of yore, when Luka Modric limped off against Birmingham, I don’t think anyone foresaw things panning out quite this way. Robbie Keane undroppable, wingers treated like lepers, long-ball upon long-ball. We’re muddling through, but the sooner both the Croatian genius and Lennon return, the better.It’s A Legal Requirement 

Not that Keane is necessarily the fall-guy for the derby defeat last week – just about everyone was culpable that day, and any one of 11 could have been dropped. However, the 4-3-1-2 adopted by ‘Arry seemed at best a curious choice at kick-off. With Bentley, Bale and Kranjcar all left shivering on the bench, the various members of the White Hart Lane Detective Agency were each reaching the same conclusion – it was done to accommodate Keane.

I suppose that in ‘Arry’s head prior to kick-off it must have seemed a thing of genius – something like a midfield diamond, with Hudd pulling the strings at its base, and Keane working off the little-and-large front pair. On paper it had everything.

Wide-Boys

On grass unfortunately, it was an unsightly mess. The creative nous of Jenas, Hudd and Palacios extended to the all-too-familiar procession of long balls into orbit for the beanpole. As I craned my neck for the umpteenth time, the same point kept nagging away: why don’t we go wide? Alas, the question took me back to a scene from the cracking Red Dwarf

 

CAT: Why don’t we drop the defensive shields?
KRYTEN: A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don’t have any defensive shields, and two, we don’t have any defensive shields. Now I realise that, technically speaking, that’s only one flaw but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

To the left and right great swathes of turf lay unsullied by human feet, our wingers having been pointedly omitted altogether from the game-plan. The only semblance of width came from full-backs BAE and Charlie, neither of whom have ever exactly been fêted for their capacity to bomb up and down the flanks. With no genuine wingers on the pitch, too often we ended up back on board the long-ball train.A Gold Star To Our Match-Winner

Uninspiring stuff then. The early goal was a bonus (coming, incidentally, from a rare cross from the flanks) and we had reason to bow gratefully to the White Hart Lane woodwork.

Keane and Hudd are the names on the scoresheet, but make no mistake, Gomes was our match-winner. A penalty save makes for an obvious headline, but it was one of a number of cracking saves in each half, worth a couple of goals. If things aren’t clicking in midfield (and they rarely do at the moment, without Lennon and Modders) it’s mightily reassuring to know that that the last line of defence is on top of his game. What a difference a year makes.

Darren Bent’s Comedy Show Returns To The Lane 

Gloriously however, it was a return to the bad old days for Dazza. There are goals, and wins, but with all the history and pre-match hype, Gomes’ save from Bent’s penalty – and the mini-carnival it prompted in the stands – ranks as one of the highlights at the Lane so far this season.

Perhaps a little harsh on young Mr Bent to be tormented quite so mercilessly (references to Sandra Redknapp amongst those gleefully raining down after the penalty miss), given that he top-scored for us, rarely sulked and generally beavered away in lilywhite. Nevertheless, it was riotous fun, and after having seen Bent perfect the look of disbelief through numerous hopeless misses in lilywhite, it was most satisfying to see him strike that pose once more, in opposition colours.

Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge 

(It does not seem coincidence that no sooner do I resume the mockery of Monsieur Bent, then the AANP

Twitter account gets hacked, with spam fired off in all directions in the good name of AANP. Sincere apologies if you were one of those on the receiving end; the problem, I think, has been resolved.)

Crisis Over
The penalty save may have been the turning-point, but the half-time switch to more orthodox 4-4-2, followed by the introduction of Krancjar for Keane, also helped steady the good ship Tottenham. By the end of the game we were even putting together the occasional slick passing move.

And a random point of note – w

hat on earth is that party-trick Assou-Ekotto keeps showing off? The one where he leaps horizontally three feet in the air and scissor-kick volleys backwards? It’s very fancy, and actually turned out to be quite effective, just rather a bizarre sight.It’s the mark of a championship-winning team to win when not playing particularly well. This was not vintage Spurs, but the win hauls us out of our crisis (relax… I jest). The three points do keep us very much in the hunt for fourth, and performances will improve as our key attacking outlets return. While it is always exciting to see what whacky strategy will be deployed each week to make up for the absence of Modric, I think we’ll breathe easier once the little fella returns.

 

Apologies to all who received Twitter spam from AANP this week, after the account was hacked by computer-box deviants. AANP on Twitter here – now cleansed and refreshed – and the Spurs Cult Heroes – AANP Facebook fan group here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones 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

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Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Your Memories of Jimmy Greaves…

Jimmy Greaves. No two ways about it, a true Tottenham legend – and AANP wants to hear your memories of the man, from both on and off the pitch. Our record goalscorer is, naturally enough, one of the players featuring in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, the forthcoming book looking at players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club.
Not everyone was lucky enough to have seen him in action, but if you did, or somehow came into contact with him, please do share…

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Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Who Will Fill The Final Three Spaces?

Three spaces left, but still a number of contenders for the list of 20 Spurs Cult Heroes. Still looking for the players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club – so put forward your argument for (or indeed against) the inclusion of any of these:Pat Jennings, John White, Alfie Conn, Bill Brown, Sandy Brown, Cyril Knowles, Ralph Coates, Gary Lineker, Steffen Freund, Teddy Sheringham. Nayim’s inclusion on this list is debatable, as his finest hour came after he had left Spurs.

(Three from that list will join the following 17, about whom there seems to be little argument: Bill Nick, Blanchflower, Mackay, Greaves, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones, Perryman, Hoddle, Ardiles, Villa, Mabbutt, Roberts, Waddle, Gazza, Clive Allen, Ginola, Klinsmann).

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Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Who Would You Choose?

The clue is in the title – the first all-action book on Spurs is imminent, and all lilywhite fans are most warmly invited to pitch in.A list of 20 fans’ favourites is being compiled, and frankly, for a team as steeped in history as ours, there just ain’t enough room for everyone. Some names effortlessly pick themselves – true Lane legends such as Blanchflower, Perryman, Mabbutt, Greaves and Bill Nick. Numerous others had more fleeting Tottenham careers, but by golly left an indelible imprint – Gazza, Ginola, Klinsmann et al. So feel free to hurl your suggestions this way – each and every one will be pored over by the tireless scribes at AANP, as we look to whittle down the list to 20. The planned tome will eventually chart each player’s Tottenham career, examining why they became a fans’ favourite. It will be heavy on anecdotes and reminiscences – so by all means include your own memories of your personal cult heroes, from both on and off the pitch.

To set the ball rolling, here’s a provisional list, of not-quite 20:
Bill Nicholson
Danny Blanchflower
Dave Mackay
Jimmy Greaves
Bobby Smith
Cliff Jones
Steve Perryman
Cyril Knowles
Glenn Hoddle
Pat Jennings
Ossie Ardiles
Ricky Villa
Gary Mabbutt
Graham Roberts
Chris Waddle
Paul Gascoigne
Jurgen Klinsmann
David Ginola
Steffen Freund

Other names to be considered (in no particular order) include Martin Chivers, Mike England, Len Duquemin, Sandy Brown, Neil Ruddock, Ted Ditchburn, Ralph Coates, Arthur Grimsdell, Jimmy Dimmock, Ron Burgess, Eddie Baily,  Alan Mullery, Nayim, Robbie Keane, Ledley, Ronnie Rosenthal, Garth Crooks, Steve Archibald, Ray Clemence, Erik Thorstvedt, Gary Lineker.

Get involved!

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Spurs preview

Spurs – West Brom Preview: Hoping For A Reaction

It’s been said that the measure of greatness is not how you react to victory, but how you react to defeat. I could not, even in my most wildly partisan moments, straight-facedly describe Spurs as “great”, but I ruddy well expect some sort of reaction to last week’s twenty-minute debacle at Old Trafford.No excuses – we ought to give West Brom a damn good thrashing today. We fans are owed an all-guns-blazing performance, to exorcise the humiliation of last week, and in terms of bouncing back and unleashing a bit of fury, we could not have asked for anything more suitable than a home fixture against the division’s bottom team.

Aside from the Man Utd mess last week, and the pretty unlucky defeat at Blackburn, we’ve been in decent form. There has been some zippy attacking, and generally pretty solid defensive performances. Play like we have been playing over the last couple of months, and we will win comfortably. A one-nil win and three points would be fine of course, but, perhaps because there’s still some pent up rage from last week, I desperately hope we dish out a real old-fashioned thrashing today. We’ve been making a habit of scoring first in recent weeks, so this week let’s score first but then kick West Brom while they’re down, and turn it into a rout.

Dad’s Birthday Treat 

“Who’s that chap?”
“That’s Fraizer Campell, Dad.”
Crazy Campbell?”
“FRAIZER Campbell.”
“Oh. Never heard of him. Who’s that chap?”

– and then listening to the frequent complaint that all our players are too small. Dad uses that line like ‘Arry uses Two-Points-Eight-Games.

”I like Keane. He works hard…”
“But he’s too small, right Dad?”
“…but he’s just too small. Ah Defoe. I like Defoe. He’s got an eye for goal, like Greaves…”
“But he’s too small, right Dad?”
“…bit small though. They need someone big in there, like Bobby Smith. [Pause] Who’s that chap?”

I therefore particularly look forward to the verdict on Wilson Palacios. ‘Arry has a big decision in choosing Wilson’s midfield partner, with Jenas his seeming preference, but Hudd making noises about pastures new. In attack, Bent’s out injured, poor blighter, and could well have played his last game for us. Not entirely sure what Pav’s status is these days, so we might get an early glimpse of next season’s big problem, with a Keane-Defoe partnership. Well if they can’t work together at home to West Brom…