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Spurs match reports

Spurs 2-1 Arsenal: Late Musings On That Glory-Glory Night

Apologies for the tardiness – busy times at AANP Towers. While it would have been nice to add my tuppence worth to the wave of euphoria in the 24 hours immediately after the Arse was spanked, the delay perhaps allows for a more circumspect few musings.AANP is classifying it a game of one half and two quarters.

First Half

For spells in the first half our lot barely got near the dashed thing, and with l’Arse hogging possession it threatened to be the opening scene of one of those Final Destination films, where the kid has a premonition of unabated carnage on all sides. With no Sergeant Wilson to roll out his little routine of charging up to opponents, stopping a yard off them, looking them in the eye and then daring them to pass him, our midfield pairing off Modders and Hudd looked initially like lambs to the slaughter, alternating between standing back or making woefully ill-timed lunges for possession.

And yet, as it turned out, we kept them at arms length. Other than a first-minute shot which BAE snuffled out on the line, I’m not sure l’Arse managed a shot on goal in the entire first half. By contrast, on the counter we created a couple of chances – and as for the opening goal… As the ball dropped from the skies, a montage of Gazza’s St Hotspur day free-kick and Bentley’s Emirates volley flashed through the mind, before the boy Rose took a punt and gained immortality.

Half-Time

Nice to see David Ginola (Cult hero! Cult hero!) at half-time, but I spent the interval cursing our lot for what they were about to put me through. 

One Quarter

As it happened, the first half of the second half (you follow?) was simply wonderful. I’m not just talking about the goal, gorgeous though it was (who knew Defoe had the defence-splitting diagonal killer pass in him?) It was the manner in which we gave l’Arse the run-around for twenty minutes or so thereafter, with a maturity I simply did not know we had. Watching Gudjohnsen and Modders play keep-ball as weary Arse legs chased shadows was one of the most satisfying sights of the season.

On the evidence of Wednesday night, the January re-shuffle of Keane-Out and Gudjohnsen-In looked a master-stroke. Admittedly Gudjohnsen fluffled a glorious chance to kill the game, but that apart his calm, shielding of possession in midfield was brilliantly executed, and exactly what we needed. Difficult to imagine Keane giving us that sort of input if added as a late sub.

Second Quarter

The inevitable nail-biting finale soon followed however, prompted by the arrival of Van Persie. It was desperate, last-ditch stuff at time, but by golly didn’t it make the chest swell with pride? From the front (Defoe racing around to execute sliding tackles) to the back (Ledley, an absolute Rolls Royce of a defender) they fought to a man, and when we ran out of men we were able to turn to a deity in goal. On my little Spurs Fixture List booklet, next to each result, I note down our goalscorers; for this game the notes read: “Rose, Bale, Gomes (3)”. His acrobatics and reactions defied belief.

Nerves shredded and fingernails chewed to the bone, my heart has now filed for divorce from me, on the grounds of persistent unreasonable behaviour – but it seems a price well worth paying. After the Pompey defeat, the lowest I have ever felt as a Spurs supporter, I tried to remember how the good times felt; not sure I’ll ever forget the feeling around 10pm on Wednesday night.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm 

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).  

 

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 0-2 Portsmouth: Unlucky? Or Actually Pretty Woeful?

Well we had better get cracking with the inquest then. The slew of instant reactions I have overheard in the couple of hours since meltdown have included “Sack Harry”; “Sell Crouch”; “Recall Keane”; and even “Get Jenas back in the team”. Okay, I made up that last one, but some of the opinions ventured do seem possibly to have been delivered a tad hastily. Over at AANP Towers the mood is bizarrely philosophical – indeed, the primary question being ruminated upon around these parts is whether we lost because we were unlucky or generally quite bobbins.Luck (Or Lack Thereof)

Might as well fly through these first, for administrative purposes:

Disallowed Goal – If there was a push on David James it was by his own defender (Rocha). Well might the goalkeeper have grinned afterwards, the offensively-attired rotter.

Penalty – Sergeant Wilson got the ball, dagnabbit.

First Pompey Goal – Curses upon the Wembley groundstaff, Michael Dawson’s stud manufacturers and the Gods of Soil and Turf.

And as an added bonus, ITV’s wonky-nosed analyst Andy Townsend later highlighted that the free-kick which led to the first goal was given against Dawson for the gentlest caress on the back of a Pompey forward.

On top of these there were spells when we laid siege to the Pompey net, racked up a blinking great big stack of corners, had efforts cleared off the line and saw several of our better chances fall to Corluka – a likeable enough trooper, but not one to whom the epithet “predatory finisher” is normally applied.

Nope, not much luck around these parts.

But Not Exactly Vintage Spurs Either… 

Our play would have benefited enormously from taking the lead and thereby finding some space behind Pompey, but it was not to be, and instead every foray into the Portsmouth penalty area was welcomed by a good half-dozen defenders. They came out elbows flying, and duly defended for their lives throughout. (Whatever happened to the real Ricardo Rocha is anyone’s guess, but his doppelganger, barely recognisable from the blighter who once wore lilywhite, put in a near-faultless shift). By sitting deep our conquerors denied us the space to get beyond them, and our passing game never really materialised.

They may have made it difficult for us, but a general lack of invention, coupled with the determination of our lot to avoid one-touch football, did not help the cause, and it seemed we might have played all ruddy night and not scored. Perhaps, then, this one will be filed in the AANP the folder entitled “Simultaneously Unlucky And Actually Pretty Woeful” (next to the 2001 Carling Cup Final defeat to Blackburn).

A Couple of Points of Note Regarding Personnel

“FA Cup Semi-Final” can be added to the ever-growing number of key games in which Hudd has failed to impose himself. He might not have been match-fit, and he did pick a couple of decent passes – and one delicious, controlled shot – but boss the affair he most certainly did not.

Inevitably then, we looked out left for inspiration. The threat of Bale was largely countered by Portsmouth’s deep-lying approach, but while perhaps not as effective as in previous weeks he still seemed our most creative outlet. The hour of Lennon’s return approacheth, which if nothing else will give Bale a chance to catch his breath between gallops.

Poor old Sergeant Wilson is pretty much exonerated from blame. Understandably enough he played throughout like a man already on one yellow card, and while this denied us the sight of any bone-crunching challenges he still bustled around pretty effectively (and energetically too, in a game in which I do declare I saw a Pompey player cramp up as early as the first half). It seemed pretty cruel that after all that effort he was then unjustly booked and we lost anyway. The guy must have been pure evil in his previous life, because karma seems to have it in for him.

‘Arry’s Input 

The replacement by Krancjar of Bentley also prompted a raised eyebrow at AANP Towers. He may not have been setting the world alight, but Bentley was whipping in the occasional cross from the right, which seemed a reasonable tactic with Crouch and Pav ambling around ahead. Instead, he exited stage left, while Hudd continued to crawl around in the centre.

11th April 2010: A Pretty Rubbish Day 

If the players mope around feeling sorry for themselves like we fans are doing the Premiership push will also be up in smoke this time next week. The evidence of today suggests that over the remainder of the season we will once again choke – but how nice would it be to see our lot pick themselves up and go hell for leather for fourth spot over the next few weeks?

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm

, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).  

Spurs’ Cult Heroes

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

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Spurs preview

Spurs – Aston Villa Preview: Two Reasons To Be Cheerful

Amidst the vacuous football-speak loosely bandied around, the phrase “massive” is merrily pre-fixed to just about every fixture of the season, by managers and players alike, but Spurs-Villa today is probably more deserving of the epithet than most fixtures. Not only are three home points at stake, but winning this one would go a long to reducing from four to three the group of contenders for the Champions League spot. While I can see Man City and even Liverpool stringing together a run of six straight wins, Villa strike me as having too small a squad to last the pace, and stretching out a five-point gap at this stage would go some way to getting shaking them from our coat-tails.”Massive” indeed then, and at AANP Towers we see at least two reasons to be cheerful going into this one.

1. No Ten-Man Defence At The Lane This Week 

If we need a template for victory today, the win over Man City before Christmas should be studied and memorised by our lot: the weathering of an early storm, followed by some lightning-quick counter-attacking and the usual flurry of chances. Admittedly Aaron Lennon’s pace was crucial on that occasion, but it was an open game, well-suited to our style of play, and the sort we can expect again today.

2. Villa Weren’t Very Good at Villa Park 

Team News

The latest post-Keane era beginneth, with Eidur Gudjohnsen in contention to come in for Crouch. Not wanting to over-burden the blighter, but personally I cannot wait to see him in action having quite happily heralded him the new messiah. Ledley is fit again, while Younes Kaboul and his quite scary eyebrows could also be back in a Spurs shirt at some point.

Having been in decent form in recent weeks David Bentley will presumably remain in the right, which means that Kranjcar would drop to the bench to accommodate Modders on the left. The concern at AANP Towers is that Gareth Bale may face his sternest test since returning to the team, his defensive capabilities likely to be fairly rigorously tested against Villa’s various pacey forwards.

Nevertheless, I am confident about this one. These big games at the Lane, against opponents willing to come here and have a go, tend to bring out the best in our heroes.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, comes out in early March 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

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Spurs match reports

Leeds 1-3 Spurs: The Reason For David Bentley’s Resurgence?

In between various planes and trains back from Morocco I managed to catch yesterday’s goings-on at Elland Road, and jolly heartening they were too. One of my brothers, for whom the rigours of parenthood mean that Spurs-watching is less frequently indulged in these days, texted afterwards to note that, as the first full Spurs game he has seen in around a year, he was pleasantly surprised by our performance. He has a point, for it was an all-round performance of the sort to which we have grown accustomed in recent months – general neatness in possession, while creating a healthy number of chances. It is perhaps easy to lose sight of this amidst the frustrations of umpteen missed chances and haemorrhaged Premiership points, but on the whole these days we play an extremely attractive brand of football, and progress over the last 12 months has been exceptional.Interesting to reflect on how the team has evolved even within the space of half a season, partly through accident and partly through design. Having shot out of the traps back in August with Modric, Keane, Lennon and BAE in the ranks, last night we eased through with Kranjcar, Bale and Bentley each looking impressive. Whisper it, but recent weeks have shown that there really is a degree of squad-depth there, albeit still with a few bad apples in the White Hart Lane barrel.

This article, forwarded to me today by a particularly highly-regarded Spurs-supporting chum, makes the point that much of our progress has been due simply to the improvement of quality, on a player-for-player basis, over the last year or two. To borrow from the article:

Jermain Defoe is a better version of Darren Bent, Wilson Palacios is a better version of Didier Zokora, and the Spurs boss feels that Gudjohnsen is a better version of Keane. 

Bentley’s attitude in recent weeks has been admirable. Cynics may suggest that his motivation is personal rather than team-oriented, and personally I reckon his lip has been quivering with rage ever since Kranjcar arrived to steal his crown as Team Pretty-Boy, but whatever the reason I hugely approve of his approach. He has put his head down, slapped on even larger amounts of hair-gel and worked hard, producing decent quality both when delivering crosses and when cutting infield. He is by no means the finished article, and the smart-money remains on him heading elsewhere in the summer, but it is good to see him rising to the challenge.

Defoe 

Statistics could probably be reeled out to counter the “flat-track bully” claim (and from memory I can pick his goal against Man Utd earlier this season and a harshly-disallowed goal at Anfield, as well as a blinding strike against l’Arse a few years ago as examples of strikes against the top-four) but the little drum I’ll bang here is that even if he is deemed no more than a tormentor of English football’s less-refined urchins this is nevertheless a mighty handy quality to have at a club with Top-Four and trophy aims. Long may it continue. Given our struggles this season against those sides we ought to be demolishing, the occasional Defoe hat-trick against a weak defence is quite welcome, and if the moniker best describing him is that of “flat-track bully” that elicits little more than a shrug.

Honourable Mentions 

 

Some of the others however, still appear stuck permanently within cruise control. He probably can’t help it, but by smiling and sticking out his tongue each time he misses a chance Crouch gives the impression that settling for second-best is not a problem. Tottenham players should be cursing, swearing and ready to kill with their bare hands when they miss chances or concede goals, and by golly they should be busting a gut to make sure it does not happen again. In short, we need to see them reacting on the pitch with the same passion we show in the stands.

Jenas

Really, what’s the point?

Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley

It was only Leeds, but it might have been a lot worse. Many Spurs teams of yore would have started timidly yesterday, given the venue and the weather, but to their credit our lot played well for all but the ten minutes or so prior to half-time. Removing foot from throttle after taking the lead does not rank too highly on the list of The World’s Greatest Sporting Ideas, but that aside it was a pretty professional performance. A nod of approval too for the none-too-subtle attitude towards closing out the game in the final minutes, all and sundry displaying a quite stoic determination to head for the corners and run the clock down. Bolton away is tricky but winnable – a description one might pin to the tournament as a whole.

 

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 

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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Birmingham – Spurs Preview: Will A Stirring Performance Be To Much To Ask?

Really not sure how to call this one. Back in August I would have pencilled in Birmingham away as a solid point and a good chance for all three, but it’s a different kettle of fish here in January 2010. Our win over Fulham was bizarrely comfortable, but hardly suggested that the Tottenham juggernaut is revved up to full throttle, ready to blitz aside all-comers.Birmingham for their part had been unbeaten in about five years until they were soundly despatched by Chelski midweek, so no obvious indication as to how they will amble up either. This will be no stroll in the park, but a stirring performance from our lot would not be too much to ask, and a convincing win at St Andrews would give us a most welcome second-wind going into spring. Of course, the alternative, of an insipid, uninspired defeat, would be the cue for the voices of doom to bellow forth their scathing critique once again.

With neither the signings of Gudjohnsen nor Kaboul confirmed as yet I presume there will be a fairly familiar look about the team tomorrow. Bassong for Ledley; Bentley to return no-man’s land (presuming Kranjcar has recovered from his sniffles); a choice of Crouch or Keane in attack. Defoe has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, but I sneer in the face of the man/woman who dismisses his goal-threat. He may not have had many chances recently, but the lob against Leeds and disallowed goal against Liverpool suggest that he has not forgotten where the netting is moored.

Sergeant Wilson has given a few encouraging indications over the past seven days that he may be returning to form, and away from home his will be an important role. As will that of the boy Bale. Speed on the counter-attack always helps on our travels, and with Lennon’s “two-week” groin strain now a month-long absence our primary pace outlet appears to be the reborn left-back. However, Bale has yet to be particularly given a severe test defensively since returning to the starting line-up, and tomorrow might be an occasion on which that side of his game is of primary importance.

In a season in which all the pretenders for fourth are resolutely taking one step back after every two steps forward, a run of four or five consecutive wins would do us a world of good. With Villa at home and Wigan away to follow, opportunity knocks for our heroes tomorrow.

 

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

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Spurs transfers

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s Dad – White Hart Lane Legend

At the time of typing it seems that the i’s have not yet been dotted, t’s crossed and funky Icelandic symbols inserted, but nevertheless it seems that Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen is heading to the Lane imminently. The AANP verdict? Instinctive reaction is a thumbs-up. Admittedly I haven’t seen him play for a few years, other than the odd Champions League cameo, but he’s only 31 so I’d imagine he’s still got it. “It” in this instance is a Sheringham-esque ability to play thoughtfully with his back to goal. Back in the day I thought he was a cracking little player – smart, able to pick passes that few others spot and technically excellent. I fancy that he and Modders will find each other’s wavelengths without too much difficulty, which is a lip-smacking prospect.We’ve tried to use Keane in that withdrawn role, helping out the midfield, but few would suggest that it has been an overwhelming success this season. Crouch does a noble job of dropping deep and laying off the ball for team-mates, but he could not be described as a hub of creativity. Gudjohnsen, I hope, will be able to do that job with a lot more élan and inventiveness.

This does essentially leave us with five strikers, so the welcoming handshakes offered by Messrs Keane and Pav might be a little firmer than is could strictly be deemed friendly, but if it improves performances I won’t complain. A half-season loan is hardly high-risk either.

West Ham’s new owners seem rather miffed at our conduct here, spookily suggesting that karma will have its wicked way with us. Personally I have no bone to pick with that lot – as with every other team I just hope we beat them twice a season, so there is no underlying sense of vitriol when I suggest that we do not seem to have done anything wrong here. The guy was available for transfer; West Ham have tried to get him; before he signed for them we too have courted him; and it appears that, with impeccable judgement, he is opting for us. All seems above board, and if anything the man himself should be incurring their wrath.

Should we seal the deal AANP Towers will clink a glass to Gudjohnsen tonight. As has been suggested in other quarters, other areas of the team may be a higher priority, but as a cheap short-term deal this is fine. And the name Gudjohnsen already has its place in White Hart Lane history – if you just bear with me while I don my anorak I’ll tell you that Eidur’s Dad (and agent) Arnor was the chap whose crucial penalty was saved by Tony Parks, in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final shoot-out.

 

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 hereAnd 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 preview

Spurs – Fulham Preview: The Team That No Longer Picks Itself

Team selection was never really an issue when we were banging them in left, right and centre and the side picked itself, but times are a-changing. While annus horribilis is probably a bit strong, our form since the turn of the year has been worrying, reflected not only by poor results and sloppy performances but now scrutiny of the line-up.Corluka or Hutton

The name “Aaron Lennon” ought also to be factored in here, for many a left-back has been confounded by the Lennon-Corluka combo. In Lennon’s absence, Hutton offers a darned sight more pace on the right than the lumbering Croat – but as he is something of a liability defensively, Charlie is likelier to get the nod tonight.

B.A.L.E or B.A.E.

With suggestions in some quarters that Assou-Ekotto might be back, ‘Arry’s selection here will be interesting. Bale has been one of our better players in recent weeks, offering more attacking thrust than BAE and generally doing about as much as could be expected of him during his four-game opportunity. That said, the braided one is the more solid defender. We at AANP Towers like a bit of gung-ho sprinkled into our daily porridge, so would prefer Bale, but ‘Arry ‘as his favourites, and I would expect BAE to waltz straight back in if fit.

Wingers

The lawyers are being readied at AANP Towers, for the use of the term “Wingers” might be queried under the Trade Descriptions Act, but Lennon is still injured (curses) so unless ‘Arry goes clinically insane and starts with Rose and Bentley I presume Modders and Kranjcar will get the nod.

Centre-Mid

The source of much consternation in recent weeks, our centre midfield has shown all the aggression and feistiness of a heavily sedated kitten settling down for its afternoon nap. The possible return from injury of Hudd will suit us perfectly if we find ourselves a couple of goals ahead at some point, but otherwise I rather fret. When Jermaine Jenas played for England against Brazil a few months ago the universe almost collapsed under the weight of absurdity, but if Hudd remains injured JJ will again be our midfield fulcrum. I’d rather find that sleepy kitten and kit it out in lilywhite. Sergeant Wilson needs to discover his A-game, and pronto.

Up-Front

It looks like the delicate issue of whether Pav’s Saturday night cameo merits a shake-up of our attack can neatly be swept under the carpet. He’s strained a groinski apparently, so Defoe will be partnered by Crouch or Keane, while penalty-taking duties are apparently being shoved towards Hudd or Kranjcar.

Easy to forget that it’s only one defeat in six League games, and that we are still fourth, but this feels an awful lot more important.

 

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 hereAnd 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 2-2 Leeds: A Dying Art Lives On At The Lane

We at AANP Towers are firm proponents of the dying art of chivalry, always happy to whip off the jacket and place it over a puddle for a lady to walk across, or leap into a burning building to save a one-armed orphan; but once on the football pitch I would positively encourage our lot to dispense with the p’s and q’s, and instead adopt all the airs and graces of a gaggle of behooded youths at a train station. Alas, our heroes are just too darned nice sometimes. When we needed ruthlessness last night, and a good violent kicking was required of opponents who were down, we instead extended the hand of comradeship at every given opportunity. Defoe’s penalty; Jenas’ back-pass; the usual disparity between our attempts-on-goal and goals-scored tallies; and of course, when all else failed, a bizarrely reckless and unnecessary penalty-area challenge in the sixth minute of injury-time. Model citizens the lot of them, and their mothers would be proud, but 30,000 at the Lane would rather see a Neanderthalic savaging of the enemy.The technical quality of our players is not in doubt. Crisp one-touch passing looks wonderful when it works (Exhibit A – our second goal), and if we are two or three goals to the good our football really is lined in gold. At the risk of sounding like a broken record however (a record first produced back in the ‘80’s) when up against a team determined to slug it out we are constantly found wanting. Our lot need to draw inspiration from someone in the centre, but as ever our default switch last night was set to “dainty”. Jenas, Hudd, Modders, Kranjcar – none are the sort to whom we look with confidence when a clinical despatch is called for.

Sergeant Wilson added some bite when he came on, and his burst set up the second goal, but by and large he has been below par this season. It is a crack we have typically papered over with early goals followed by lightning-fast counter-attacks. More often than not, this approach will be sufficient for victory, but all the nine-one wins in the world will not disguise the fact that we still lack a true leader in central midfield, who will take the game by the scruff of the neck and go charging into attack like that beardy chap in the film about Sparta.

Instead, we have Jermaine Jenas. The lad must be quite sensational in training, because he certainly never does anything during an organised game to merit inclusion. At one point yesterday we were treated to the sight of Jenas’ annual Burst-With-The-Ball-From-Deep, a gallop of fully 60 yards on the counter-attack offering a charming hint of just how good a player he might be if he did the same thing throughout the game, every game. He does not do this every game however; he does it once a blue-moon, typically finishing by knocking the ball sideways to an opponent, to the inevitable vocal accompaniment from the stands. The point of his existence continues to be pondered by all bar a succession of Tottenham and England managers.

Elsewhere on the Pitch… 

For all his single-mindedness in front of goal from open-play (and that early attempted lob-volley was rather eye-catching) Defoe’s penalty-taking is truly woeful. The award of a penalty ought to be greeted with back-slaps and satisfaction; instead I can barely bring myself to watch either him or Keane step up. It is a pretty damning indictment of these two that I now find myself scanning the periphery of the area to see who is most alert for the rebound.

More excitingly, The Rarely-Sighted Pav may have reminded ‘Arry that rather than just being a foreign chap with a mullet always loitering in the background his preferred trade is actually that of a professional footballer. Fingers are crossed here at AANP Towers that the Russian is given another chance on Tuesday night.

A decent shift from the boy Bale, although few have ever doubted his attacking prowess. He will face sterner defensive tests, but for various reasons – pace, left-footedness, crossing ability, age – he remains in favour at AANP Towers, the news of which will make his weekend I’m sure.

In need of a leader we have not held back in heaping praise upon Michael Dawson in the last couple of months, and one or two crunching tackles again yesterday indicated why. The fellow’s commitment to the cause is a welcome contrast to so many around him, but a couple of wobbles against Liverpool and then the penalty conceded yesterday were reminders that he does still rather act first and think later. We all love to see someone diving in across the turf and sending an opponent flying, but there is a time and a place, and Daws erred pretty spectacularly on both counts in the dying seconds.

The Road to Wembley 

 

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Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-0 Hull: “Just One Of Those Days” – Again?

(Yes yes, it’s about a year late. Sorry. Finishing touches being applied to the opus Spurs’ Cult Heroes)It appears that “Just one of those days” is lined up to become ‘Arry’s Triffic Phrase of the Season 2009/10, following the success of “Two points, eight games” last year. The official company line at least appears to be that the blank drawn against Hull is not something about which to get too worked up, and in a sense one can appreciate the point – we may not have been at our fluid best, but Gomes spent most of the game in smoking-jacket and slippers, puffing contentedly on cigar and squinting down the far end of the pitch. While one cheery Hull fan on a phone-in rather optimistically tried to argue that they had actually outplayed us, the stats of zero shots on target by Hull, compared to around three thousand by our lot, fairly convincingly suggest otherwise. It might not have been vintage Spurs, but we made a couple of clear-cut chances, and had Defoe or Keane done what they normally do with eyes closed we might have been dusting off the abacus.

But they didn’t and we weren’t. Not for the first time we’ve lollopped along Easy Street but lost our way and come stumbling back out again. Just one of those days? For the third time this season? At what point does the reaction morph from bemused shrug to desperate scramble for the panic stations?

For what it’s worth, the reaction is restraint – albeit of the mightily irritated variety – rather than wild-eyed panic here at AANP Towers. Unlike against Stoke, when we created worryingly few chances, against Hull we created a decent number, and but for that Myhill lad would have breezed it.

Elsewhere on the Pitch 

A decent shift from Gareth Bale, offensively and defensively. Further such displays may give our glorious leader something to chew on once BAE recovers from injury. Modders looked pleasingly urgent throughout; but Kranjcar returned from his cloud of wondrousness, back to earth with a bump, in the realm of the largely ineffective. While these two cut inside with gay abandon, central midfield remains a worry from this vantage point. When up against opponents willing to venture forward Hudd is more effective and Sergeant Wilson more suitably employed, but in the face of a 10-0-0 formation Hudd had precious few ideas. Boundless energy has never been his forte, and no-one expects that of him (whether rightly or wrongly is perhaps a debate for another day), but it would at least have been nice to see him rolling things along quickly, first-time passes and the like, playing like he a man who knows where he’ll put the ball before he even receives it.

The silver lining to all this is that a draw at home to a team in the relegation zone turned out to be one of the best results of the weekend, and by virtue of the charming generosity of our closes challengers we’re somehow back in the top four. The table would look infinitely cheerier if we had wins against Hull, Stoke and Wolves to add to the collection, but it is what it is.

 

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

Categories
Spurs match reports

Spurs 4-0 Peterborough (Belatedly): Win The Whole Thing? Why Not?

(Apologies for the tardiness – deadline week on the book Spurs’ Cult Heroes)
The FA Cup? Why not? The only team that ever seems to beat us in knock-out competitions has itself been knocked out, and for our part we look capable of despatching anyone on our day. This is not a reaction to our win on Saturday, far from it, but rather a reaction to the exit of Man Utd. They were the one team I simply could not envisage us beating. Anyone else, and we could make a game of it, but there seemed to be as much a mental block as a quality gap with that lot. Now, however, the outlook is a little different. Chelski and l’Arse are obviously the ones to eye warily, but we’ve got Cup pedigree against both. Man City, Villa and Liverpool would be tricky, particularly away from home, but all are eminently beatable. I rather fancy our chances this season.Daydream over. Here at AANP Towers the response to the Peterborough game was a contented nod and scan of the fixture-list. A scrappy, nerve-jangling 94th minute winner would have sufficed – although we’d laid into them had that been the case – but our heroes deserve credit for getting the job done fairly routinely.

The habit of making bucketloads of chances is positive; the relatively small proportion of chances converted less so. It proved another exercise in breaking down a side that had come to the Lane essentially to frustrate, and while this time things panned out swimmingly, in future we may need to be a little less profligate.

Defoe – Accurate

My old man, the venerable AANP Senior has been fond of preaching over the years that a player only deserves credit for hitting the woodwork if he was aiming for it – in which case full marks to Jermain Defoe. The only explanation for that early shot which hit the bar, when it was surely easier to score, was that he actively sought to avoid the netting and instead aimed for the frame. And a fine job he did too.

Life Without Lennon

The question of how to cope without Lennon was initially addressed by rather stretching the definition of “winger”, with Modders and Kranjcar roaming anywhere they jolly well pleased. I could sit back all day and watch those two do their thing. If Niko Kranjcar were English the nation’s media would drool over him, yet the lad seems strangely under-rated beyond N17, in a Steed type of way. Not complaining mind, if anything this means he’s less likely to be prised away by Man Utd.

Later on we had that delightful cameo from the boy Rose, definitely more in the Lennon mould than Corluka when it came to going for a gallop. I recall a well-informed gooner mate raving about him, rather enviously, when we first signed him a couple of years ago. I rather hope that he doesn’t venture down that well-trod route of a loan to League One side and eventual transfer, but alas our reputation for developing youngsters is hardly encouraging.

Of the other reserves, Bale and Hutton continue to look the polar opposites of those for whom they deputise. Always had a soft spot for Bale, ever since his gung-ho emergence under Martin Jol (blessed be his name). While he continues to look cracking value going forward, he still fails to instill confidence as a defender. Fingers crossed that this is not a problem in the coming month.

Boxes Ticked 

To think that we would have drawn Man Utd yet again, had they remained in the competition, beggars belief, and is grist to the mill of conspiracy theorists throughout the South Stand. Instead it will be Leeds – not straightforward, but home advantage ought to be enough.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available to pre-order from WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play 

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

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