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.
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.
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