All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
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PAOK – Spurs Preview: Babysitting Duties

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

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

Spurs – Man City Preview: Pessimism Abounds

An early preview, as I’m off gallivanting for the weekend, and for the second time in a week this all looks rather ominous. City’s charming social experiment into whether money can indeed buy you everything has turned them into something approaching the equal of the United side that so emphatically dismantled us last week.The visit of City presents us with two potential strategies: close our eyes, curl up into a small ball and panic; or get Messrs Hudd and/or Modric on the pitch pronto. Kranjcar and Livermore offer technique and enthusiasm respectively, but looked every inch our sixth- and seventh-choice central midfielders against United, and a step up in quality is desperately needed this week. It is possible that Jenas might also compete for a starting berth on Sunday, and while this chap did once play in central midfield against Brazil, his presence would not inspire confidence in anyone other than our visitors.

Adebayor?

At the time of writing I’m a little unsure, but presume that Adebayor will be ineligible against his parent club, which would be rather exasperating after an 18-month wait for a decent striker. Given the relative toothlessness of the Defoe-VDV combo last week it will be interesting to see whether ‘Arry gives them another whirl on Sunday, but Pav’s performance on Thursday night hardly made an irresistible case for inclusion.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

While central midfield will be a critical area, Lennon and Bale could also be key, their match-ups against Clichy and Richards respectively making for a jolly lip-smacking prospect. Elsewhere, ‘Arry will have to choose between Corluka and Walker, while Friedel will presumably retain his spot.

‘Tis a measure of the deflating effects of last week, in terms of performance as much as result, that my capacity for optimism in even the bleakest situations as a Spurs fan has been all but extinguished. Pessimism abounds at AANP Towers. Even as the home side I fear we will struggle. Fingers crossed and prayers offered that our heroes prove me wrong.

 

 

Spurs 0-0 Hearts: New Faces As Far As The Eye Could See

Supporters’ etiquette dictates that we ought to be mightily supportive of the emergence of home-bred talent into the first team, but here at AANP Towers constructive criticism of the various whippersnappers is obscured by outrage at how unfeasibly young they all are. With their trendy haircuts and no doubt listening to music that would simply sound like noise to the bastions of AANP Towers, Townsend, Fredericks and Kane appeared to have been plucked from the fresh-faced crowds milling around collecting their GCSE results earlier in the day. As for the boy Carroll, he looked more partially-developed foetus than man. Watching these kids buzz around, all earnest verve and brio, the words of a weary Danny Glover resonated truer than ever before.On a slightly more relevant note, the younglings acquitted themselves reasonably well, although given the quality (or lack thereof) of the opposition, none of them stood at as necessarily child prodigies. Townsend and Fredericks had pace to burn on the wings, but each became a little bogged down in their little world when the time came for distributing the thing. Livermore adopted a pretty relaxed interpretation of the term “midfield enforcer” but pinged the ball around in sensible if unspectacular fashion. Carroll impressed, a nice mix of tenacity and technique, notably in the weighting and direction of his pass to create the penalty, and Kane upfront was busy and confident. Promise abounded, but all will need to improve before pushing for regular squad inclusion.

Of the older heads, Daws, Corluka, Hudd and Kranjcar at various points each demonstrated the value of experience, unfussily defusing potentially tricky situations and throwing in the occasional flash of class. Pav, by contrast, looked like he didn’t belong, and given the presence of one esteemed guest in the stands, one wonders quite how many more chances he will get to slam the ball so far from goal it heads for a throw-in.

Off-Pitch Developments

No Modders, which was a slight shame, because it would have made for particularly cruel entertainment to have watched him single-handedly run rings against the opposing mob.

Adebayor is officially a lilywhite however, albeit on a temporary basis. Every Spurs fan in Christendom has an opinion on this one, and AANP’s tuppence worth is that it is a cracking signing. As a player, we have needed him for 18 months; as a person it’s not ideal, but the cynicism of years has worn me down, and I now struggle to believe that anyone in our current squad (bar the kids, and perhaps Daws) particularly cares about the cockerel. If they are quality players and give their all I am resigned to accepting them, whoever their previous employers.

Spurs – Hearts Preview: Children of the Night

Like the Queen visiting the troops in Helmand in a symbolic gesture to bolster morale, we lilywhites need something to raise spirits, for few amongst us found anything comforting in Monday night’s debacle and gloomy faces abound. Timely then that that Hearts are pootling along the High Road to be given the run around tonight, for another gentle, if pointless, five-nil win would be timely.Alas, the chances of another drubbing are fairly remote. With the tie already settled our heroes are hardly likely to go charging out of the blocks tonight, and our starting line-up will presumably comprise a sleepy combo of those who will be rather embarrassed to be picked for such a non-event (Bassong, Pav, Bentley etc), and kids we are unlikely to see much more of before they disappear on loan (Harry Kane, Tom Carroll).

While the odds are against the likes of Kane, Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas cracking it at the top level, this is at least a chance for them to demonstrate that they can handle first team football. Controversially, ‘Arry has hinted that Luka Modric may even be asked to do that for which he is paid handsomely, and play for us. Any excitement tonight will presumably be generated by such sub-plots, but levity aside we at AANP Towers hope at least to see some encouraging signs for the morrow from our children of the night, as well as maintenance of a proud European record of White Hart Lane and, of course, no more blasted injuries.

Man Utd – Spurs Preview: A Team of Younes Kabouls

Rejoice, all ye fellow lilywhites. Admittedly it is also with a degree of trepidation (Old Trafford will do that to a Spurs fan) but goodness me it is wonderful finally to be able to look forward to Spurs in Premiership action tonight. ‘Tis with delight therefore that I invite you to gather round and peruse with me the permutations of team selection for the evening’s festivities.Goalkeeper 

Right-Back? Kaboul?

BAE at left-back and Daws as half of the centre-back combo pick themselves; thereafter it becomes a bit tricky. Kaboul would be the obvious partner for Daws, given the absences of Gallas and Ledley, but what of right-back? Kyle Walker began against Hearts, but a Europa qualifier is a vastly different kettle of fish from a Premiership game away to the champions. Although I’m not quite sure where he was hiding last Thursday, I suspect that if fit Corluka will get the nod, so we can all enjoy the sight of him waddling along in the puff of smoke that Ashley Young leaves behind. Personally I’d go with Kaboul over any of the others at right-back.

Holding Midfielder? Kaboul?

No doubt ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have been chuckling away to themselves at the irony of the fact that we possibly have more central midfielders in our squad than any other team in the Premiership, yet not a single one is fit for tonight. Ah, the hilarity! Livermore and Kranjcar then, I suppose. However, if ‘Arry wants someone with a bit of snap in central midfield the options are either sticking a jersey on Joe Jordan’s back and shoving him out there, or going with… Kaboul?

No Modders tonight, apparently “his head isn’t right”, which is an excuse I must try with my boss next time I just don’t fancy a day at the office. Still, where there is Bale and Lennon there is hope.

Attack? (Maybe Not Kaboul This Time) 

The Other Lot 

Moreover, United have thrown oodles of cash at a new goalkeeper who at best looks like he’d rather not be the chap hovering between the two big white sticks. De Gea will presumably prove his worth soon enough, but in his two appearances so far this season, as well as looking a few weeks shy of his 14th birthday and committing a crime against facial hair, he has displayed what appears to be a rather untimely allergy to ball. Apparently the lad also conceded a dozen or so goals from outside the area last season – and on a marvellously serendipitous note I read this morning that we scored more than any other team from outside the area last season…

It would be rather stretching the facts a mite to suggest that United are therefore there for the taking, but circumstances might be more favourable tonight than usual. Let the madness begin.

The All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs This Season

Old hat it may be for everyone else, but here at AANP Towers we bounce around the walls like toddlers on a strict diet of fizzy drinks and E-numbers as we await the start of our Premiership season. Still, rather than pacing the corridors, rubbing hands together in feverish anticipation until tomorrow night, it occurred to me that the time is rather ripe for making public the various musings that have echoed around the walls of AANP Towers all summer. By golly that’s right – in no particular order, it’s the All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs’ Coming Season!1. Solve The VDV Conundrum

This one moonlights under the crafty pseudonym “Get Our Strikers Scoring Again”. While he has more talent than the rest of our forwards put together, the uneasy truth may be that VDV’s presence has rather discombobulated our strikers. Like gravity and the temperature at which water boils, that Messrs Pav and Defoe prefer playing within a front two is a scientific truth. Indeed, given a weekly starting-berth and a 4-4-2 one imagines that both would be capable of hitting 20 goals a season (although maybe not alongside each other). However, playing as the lone striker supported by VDV suits neither.

The solution we’ve been screeching from the stands for over a year is the purchase of a striker capable of playing on his own, Adebayor now apparently having displaced Llorente and Rossi atop that particular list. Be it a new signing, or somehow shoving VDV into a 4-4-2 – or even as my Spurs-supporting chum Ian recommends, shoving Bale up top – we really need our strikers to hit 40+ goals between them this season.

(While there is the Crouch option, which does sporadically bear fruit for VDV, my fragile mental state is such that I may eat my own brain if I have to endure another season of his headers flying off a random angular point of his cranium and looping gently into the Paxton.) 

A moot point admittedly, because if he comes ambling towards us making a heart with his hands it means a you-know-what scored by you-know-who, and we would all gratefully accept one of those each week. Nevertheless, one can hardly imagine Bruce Willis skipping off with heart-shaped fingers after capping a bad guy, or Mike Tyson acting similarly after pummelling some poor blighter back in his hey-day. Tyson bit off people’s ears dagnabbit, and while that might be a tad extreme, I hope that this season Bale produces something a bit less akin to an eight year-old girl celebrating the creation of a daisy-chain.

3. Kyle Walker to Prove He Can Defend

Having existed on a right-back diet largely comprising Vedran “Usain” Corluka and Alan Hutton last season, hopes are high for young Master Walker, particularly after his loan at Villa somehow ended up with him being shoe-horned into Fabio’s England squad. I confess I barely watched Villa last season, but Walker’s U21 exploits this summer made interesting viewing: plenty of youthful brio when flying forward, but defending remains a crucial – if oft-overlooked – facet of being a defender, and on this topic the jury at AANP Towers wandered out and is yet to return. Harking back to his occasional Spurs appearances a year or two back (Bolton/Blackburn away?) he looked promising enough, but a hardly the finished article, a soft penalty numbering among a couple of mistakes.

He will get his chances, particularly in the Europa League, and looked impressive enough against Hearts, which might help answer the crucial question: can the lad defend? Until that one is answered I’d quite happily go with Kaboul at right-back.

4. Pav to Stop Whingeing

When the mood takes him he’s a mighty fine player, one who seems to delight in scoring spectacularly from 25 yards rather than anything more mundane, but goodness me, Pav acts like a big old baby at times. He was not built for a 4-5-1, nor has he had a consistent run in the team, so one sympathises, but every time a butterfly sneezes near him he squeals and goes down, and whenever a pass is placed a couple of yards beyond him that look of pained anguish is etched across his face, tears seemingly just around the corner, and arms inevitably a-flapping. For goodness sake sir, life is not fair, it’s the same for all of us – just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

5. Hudd to Speed Up 

6. Fewer of Those Goalkeeping Clangers

Oh to have been a fly on the wall during transfer negotiations with Brad Friedel. Presumably he has not joined with the intention of warming those comfy-looking seats on the sidelines all season, yet Gomes appears the custodian as we chug along towards the belated season opener. Nevertheless, Friedel’s arrival can be interpreted as a shot of Jagerbomb at the Last Chance Saloon for Gomes: no more flapping. And that incorporates the fumbling of straightforward, straight-at-yer shots approaching with all the power generated by a sedated kitten, as well as general flailing at corners. Early signs, from the friendly vs that Spanish lot and the Europa game vs Hearts are not entirely encouraging – Gomes’ shot-stopping looked decent but one can almost hear the panic bells ringing in his head as a set-piece is delivered in his direction…

7. Don’t Sell Niko Kranjcar

A

dmittedly the opta stats would probably reflect that Pienaar covers about three times as much ground as Kranjcar, but while he may be a tad, ahem, languid, the Croat has undiluted magic in his boots, and given our struggles to break down rubbish teams last season he may have delivered that je ne sais quoi for which we searched in vain. On his rare opportunities last season he delivered a couple of belting strikes, and in midfield against the admittedly rubbish Hearts last week he looked imperious. Still, when Bale was absent ‘Arry seemed willing to try everyone but Kranjcar on the left, and the signing of Pienaar was about as unsubtle as it gets when it comes to ‘Arry’s plans.8. Joe Jordan to Eat Someone

Literally. Deep down he must be dying for a fight, and having restrained himself against Gattuso last season maybe, just maybe, Joey Barton or Arsene Wenger may push him just a bit too far on the touchline this season…

9. Finish in the Top Four 

10. Owen Coyle to Take Over When (“If”) ‘Arry Leaves Next Summer 

Controversial one this, not least because, as the pedants amongst you will have noted, an a wish-list for this season ought not to concern itself with next season. However, the chances are that when Fabio scrams in summer 2012 ‘Arry will cry God for England and St George. I admit immediately that my knowledge of up-and-coming European bosses is negligible, but of the British lot Coyle impresses me. All sorts of caveats here – not least that he’s unproven at a big club, with the cash, egos and whatnot – but he turned Bolton from a loathsome long-ball team to one that plays jolly decent passing football. Just a thought.

Gentle Musings on Spurs’ Summer

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

Massive, Gob-Smacking Marquee Transfers 

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

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

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

Modric (Grrr) 

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

New Kit 

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

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: A Set-Piece Goal & Other Ludicrous Wishes

Ostensibly I suppose this has little to recommend it. Our lot are without the glamour boys Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart, and there is no Darren Bent sub-plot for added intrigue. It’s the sort of game for which Tony Gubba in the final slot on MoTD was invented – but fie upon the BBC schedulers. From a lilywhite perspective this game is darned well crucial. The eight-game run of winnable fixtures enters its third leg this afternoon, and with Man City the latest of the Top Four to have dropped points opportunity remains bright and gleaming in front of us to continue gnawing away, Champions League-obsessed beavers that we are.The Darren Anderton Award For Most Injured Blighter in Lilywhite is hotting up, with Jonathan Woodgate causing jaws to drop the length of the isle by completing a full 90 minutes in midweek without bits of him dropping off, and a place on the bench beckons accordingly. The absences of Hudd, Bale, VDV and Modders would be enough to reduce other teams to tears and white flags, but while perhaps impairing our quality slightly it does nevertheless give opportunity for various other attacking types to flex their muscles, and Jenas, Pienaar, Kranjcar and Pav could all feature accordingly.

Things it would warm the cockles to observe today include the usual fare, of three points and preferably a clean sheet. If I may be a tad indulgent a return to goalscoring form from Defoe would also be frightfully well received around these parts, and a goal from a set-piece would make a pleasant change too, but I appreciate that I am now veering wildly towards the realm of the absurd. Victory, preferably one not marred by any further injuries, would be just dandy, in continuing our furtive ascent towards the Top Four.

Fulham – Spurs Preview: Life Without Gareth Bale

Life without Gareth Bale? It began after 10 minutes last weekend, will continue today and, if scurrilous rumours are to be believed may even take on a more permanent edge, with Inter understandably keen to see “Year abroad” added to his already astonishing CV in the near future. Mercifully, this is one of the transfer window’s less likely rumours, but his absence nevertheless seems likely this afternoon. At one point last weekend we adapted to his absence by reverting to what looked like a 3-5-2, with Lennon wide left, Hutton wide right, and Pienaar, Modders and VDV central midfield, as ‘Arry crept ever closer to his goal of one day fielding a team of eleven outright attackers. The all-or-nothing nature of FA Cup fare gives him another chance to throw caution to the wind, and such is his all-action mentality that the day cannot be far off when he decides with 10 minutes remaining to haul off Gomes and replace him with Pav upfront.Initially however, a more familiar 4-4-1-1 is on the cards. The FA Cup is now our lowest priority, and although Fulham away hardly constitutes an easy afternoon’s work ‘Arry may be tempted to rest one or two of the key players, particularly with a league game in midweek. This may therefore be an opportunity for supporting cast members such as Kranjcar, Sandro and Pav to go scuttling around to no great effect for an hour or so, before Modders, VDV and Lennon are sent on to rescue the situation.

Once upon a time our heroes could not go five minutes without scoring from some angle or other, but the goals have dried up in recent weeks, and when they do arrive they tend to be from midfield. While a victory by any means would be welcomed, it would be encouraging to see the forwards click and goals flow, particularly against Premiership opposition. And then we up our bid, sign Andy Carroll and everyone lives happily ever after. Huzzah!

Newcastle – Spurs Preview: “When I watch them it’s as if they clean my eyes”

In a curious quirk of circumstance it transpired that neither I nor my avidly Spurs-supporting chum Ian could earlier this week recall, off the top of our heads, the identity of this weekend’s opponents. Such was the importance of last week’s game against Man Utd that everything thereafter paled into insignificance, at least temporarily. As it happens though the various statistical experts appointed at AANP Towers to research such things have assured me that we will gain precisely the same number of points for beating Newcastle tomorrow as we would have done for beating Man Utd last Sunday. Gosh. We might as well knuckle down and give them a good thrashing then, what?Quote Of The Week

It transpires that White Hart Lane boasts a most unlikely resident wordsmith, Heurelho Gomes this week opining of VDV, Modders, Bale etc:

 

 

“When I watch them it’s as if they clean my eyes”Most eloquently put. Much fun will be had by Modders and VDV negotiating their way around Barton and Nolan in midfield; should they emerge victorious then, one imagines, so will we.

Team News

Apparently our resident excitingly-coiffeured mentalist, BAE, might be out of this one, which raises the pertinent question of precisely who is our reserve left-back. Kaboul (if fit) seems a fairly versatile chap, but another train of thought is that a certain super-human young Welshman might be shunted back into defence, allowing Pienaar or perhaps even Kranjcar to slot into left midfield. I always rather enjoyed watching Bale push forward from left-back, largely because of the state of bewilderment it instils into opposing right-backs struggling to decide who they should mark and eventually fainting with the discombobulation of it all.

The presence of Daws at the back typically suggests that we won’t be conceding too many, so the art of three-pointery will depend largely upon the front-line. Each passing week enhances the possibility that this might be the last we see of Messrs Crouch or Keane, or Comrade Pav. I still yearn to see how Defoe and VDV would combine for a full 90 minutes, but this being an away day ‘Arry might opt for Gangly Incompetence over Vertically-Challenged Goalscorer. We shall see.

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