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.
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 OverThe 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