Spurs preview

Spurs – Blackburn Preview: Five Things I’d Like To See From Tottenham This Weekend

Strangely nervous ahead of this one, precisely because we are such overwhelming favourites. We at AANP Towers would happily trade all of the following for three points, in any way or form, but as I idle away the final minutes of the day-job, the following notions float to mind…A Dull Home Win

The list of Games-To-Rue-Come-May is far too long already; let’s not add to it, eh chaps? Just a standard, by-the-numbers, mundane home win will do just fine thank you. You know the sort – a goal from Kranjcar in the first 15 minutes; a good hour of dominance; a slightly nervy feel that we ought to turn said dominance into goals; and finally a Defoe goal in the last ten minutes to kill the game off. The sort of regular home win that gets shunted well done the Match of the Day running order. No alarms and no surprises, as Radiohead might venture.

A nice stress-free win is all the more appealing given that our fixture-list begins to take a few turns for the worse in coming weeks. Admittedly Pompey at home should just about be negotiable, but Stoke away could be a tad tricky; Man City away could be crucial; and we also have games against the top three to come. Three points are being dangled White Hart Lane-wards, and it might be an idea to stock up now, before such resources become scarce in April.

No Caution For Palacios

One more yellow and Sergeant Wilson misses two games. Bad enough at the best of times, the current injury crisis means that one more mishap might see Kaboul or Corluka shoved into midfield, as part of a tactical re-jig best defined as Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hope. The chances of Palacios lasting the final ten Premiership (plus Cup) games without a booking are nil, but if he could just hold out until the likes of Hudd and Bentley return that would soften the blow somewhat.

Destruction of All That Sam Allardyce Stands For

Sam Allardyce might be quite the philanthropist – on a personal level I cannot comment – but as a manager I despise him and his ways. ‘Arry has gone the diplomatic route ahead of this game (“

Everyone plays how they play, they have their own style…Whatever Sam does, he has been one of the most successful managers”) but I fervently hope that we subject Allardyce’s charges to a masterclass of one-touch, olé football, and pass them to death. Although I’ll settle for a mundane home win of course.None of That Hollywood-Ball Gubbins From Daws

Daws’ defensive form has been pretty darned impressive, barring the occasional rush of blood to the head, but I do wish he would stop the Beckenbauer impressions. Just be a good boy and knock the ball short to Modders or someone, rather than trying to launch it sixty yards to one of the attacking midgets.

Robbo Circa 2008 Onwards

Once upon a time Paul Robinson was awesome. A few years back, when we were last challenging for the top four, it seemed that between him and Ledley a certain goal would be prevented every game, and I duly worshipped his balding pate. However, ever since that missed kick against Croatia it has been nigh on impossible to think of him without seeing the grinning face of Borat heralding another slapstick mishap, poor blighter. More of the same tomorrow please. Let’s see him flap at a 30-yard Kranjcar effort, or flap at a set-piece and end up chucking the ball into his own net.

Up the other end, Gomes has barely made a mistake all season, and this juxtaposition alone ought to be enough to seal the three points.

The teamsheet will presumably be fairly similar to that posted against Fulham last week – BAE at left-back; Bale left midfield; Modders in the centre – although Defoe can be expected to return to the starting line-up alongside Pav. The early kick-off gives us a chance to put a bit of pressure on the other challengers for fourth, and watch them stew in their own juices over the course of the weekend – and there are few preferable activities around these parts of a Saturday afternoon.


AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).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


Spurs preview

Blackburn – Spurs Preview: Fighting The Good Fight Against Anti-Football

We at AANP Towers are generally peace-loving folk, but amongst the few things that have us stomping our feet in apoplexy is the brand of anti-football purveyed by Sam Allardyce.History is littered with epic confrontations – Good against Evil; Beauty against the Beast (not sure that was a fight actually); Bruce Willis against Hans Grüber and his henchmen. As Spurs’ Beautiful Game is today pitted against Allardyce’s Anti-Football, our glorious heroes can look in particular to Kranjcar and Lennon to lead the charge. Lots of good honest man-love has been flung Niko Kranjcar’s way in recent weeks, and rightly so for the chap is in blistering form. The very presence of Kranjcar – as well as Lennon and his wondrous new, improved crossing ability – gladdens the heart. No Modders today apparently, but what a compliment to Kranjcar to be able to say that we have adequate cover.

I should stipulate at this juncture that I have no particular gripe with Blackburn themselves – as with most other sides I neither like nor dislike them, and on any other weekend I’ll wish them luck. Allardyce however, makes my blood boil. Countless times with his Bolton side, and then last season against us, I seem to recall, at Ewood Park, he drilled his charges into the art (has there been a more spectacular misnomer?) of pumping the ball into orbit and sharpening elbows in readiness for the ensuing melee. There’s no grass in the sky, Mr Allardyce.

On a cheery note, any such approach ought to provide Michael Dawson with another opportunity to thrust out his chest and do what glorious leaders do. The man has been immense in recent weeks, performances against Villa and Man City in particular doing much to dispel the notion that he still needs a calming influence to play Yoda to his Luke and shepherd him through games. While I’m not about to go the full hog and start banging the international drum, on current form it’s entirely uncontroversial at least to mention his name in the same breath as Lescott, Upson, Jagielka and Cahill.

Daws is one of the few leaders in our ranks; another, apparently, is Robbie Keane. Many have complimented him on his attitude in midweek, in shaking the hands and geeing the spirits of his team-mates when they strode out for the second half against City, while he prepared to return to the bench. Personally I missed that moment (as it happens I only saw him shake hands and share a joke with opposition ‘keeper Shay Given during the half-time break), but the notion that Keane is a big, vocal influence in the Tottenham camp had credence long before he organised the merry festive japes in Dublin last week. While his on-pitch form has been unconvincing, as a boisterous member of what generally seems a painfully timid bunch it seems he does play a significant role. That said, I see no reason for him to return to the starting line-up today.

Naturally enough, there has been lots of excited chatter after the Man City win. The howls of rage and despair that greeted defeat to Wolves just four days earlier seem to have been forgotten in the blink of a 3-0 win. I even noted Hansen on MoTD drawling that the City game was our “Best performance of the season,” and that we were “Brilliant from start to finish.” To each their own I guess, but from this vantage point it seemed we started (and indeed ended) a little shakily against City. However, although results have not reflected it, our football over the last month or so has been impressive, which gives grounds for optimism ahead of today’s game. Adopt the mentality of recent away days – Everton, Villa, Man Utd – by seizing the initiative from the off, and Blackburn won’t be able to live with us (until we start panicking in the final 15 mins).


You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or 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 forthcoming book 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.

Spurs rants

Boo Hiss – The Top-Ten Spurs Villains 2008-09

With transfer tittle-tattle still entrenched in the realms of fantasy and silly-speak, I thought I’d gaze all teary-eyed and nostalgic at the season gone by, and offer a final few reminiscences. The Top-Ten Mistakes and Top-Ten Goals of the season are imminent, but for now gorge yourself – in reverse order, no less – on a veritable gaggle of pantomime villains from 2008-09, at the madcap world that is Tottenham Hotspur FC.10. Fulham – Technicallly, we’re probably better off not qualifying for Europe, as it will almost certainly increase our chances of a top four finish next season. However, this was an argument I blindly ignored in the final few months, as all other contenders fell by the wayside, but the Cottagers consistently kept their noses in front. Gallingly, if Gomes hadn’t blundered back in November, we might well have avoided a 2-1 defeat to Fulham, and would now be dusting off our passports once again.

9. Gareth Bale – An Arsenal conspiracy in human(ish) form, Bale has gone something like 20-plus league games for us, over two seasons, without tasting victory. I’d be mightily disappointed if we flogged him off this summer, as he made a quite blistering start to his Tottenham career, but it has now reached the stage where opposition players high-five one another when they see his name on our teamsheet.

8. Peter Walton – “Who?” cry a thousand voices in unison. “The ref from the Blackburn game in April“, replies the scribe at AANP Towers, before receiving a good kicking for being such a smart-arse. We were cruising at one-nil, as has been our wont (see above) when Walton thought he’d spice things up by sending off Palacios for sneezing in the wrong direction or something similarly innocuous. Grist to Big Fat Sam Allardyce’s mill, it allowed Blackburn to lob long balls into orbit and back down to earth in our area, and two late goals gave that lot an ill-deserved 2-1 win.

7. Robbie Keane – A slightly strange one this. Rather suddenly upped and left for his “boyhood heroes”, which left the more restrained folk of White Hart Lane shaking their heads and tutting, and the rest of us shrieking invective at him until blue in the face. And then he came back, which left us slightly embarrassedly shuffling our feet and changing the subject. Nobody is yet quite sure whether we ought to be cheering for or grumbling at him.

6. The Entire Spurs Team At Burnley – One of the most embarrassing, disgraceful performances any Spurs fan can remember, we contrived to throw away a 4-1 first leg lead, to a team in the division below us, a display every bit as bad as that sounds. Frankly, it left us plain embarrassed to be heading to Wembley, but that’s where we ended up

5. Dimitar Berbatov – Easy to forget that the incredible sulk was a lilywhite at the start of the season. Decided he was way too cool for school last season, hung around to make himself a dressing-room nuisance in pre-season, and didn’t bother with to make any respectful noises on the way out. Some people depart the Lane to a hero’s ovation; Berba we’d have happily kicked all the way down the High Road and far beyond.

4. Failing to Increase One-Nil Leads – Became a particular trend in the second half of the season, when we’d routinely score in the first-half, stack up lots of possession but develop an allergy to a second goal. The result was a slew of unnecessarily tense finales to games that should have been wrapped up, sung lullabies and put to bed, in the process giving kids like Obika and Bostock a chance to shimmy on with the game sewn up. Instead, those collective final ten-minutes of games have been knocking several years of my life. Three points is three points, but this is something to improve upon for next season.

3. Howard Webb – A two-nil lead in the second-half at Old Trafford, and although we were dropping deeper and deeper we just about had the Champions at arms’ length. Cue a pretty dodgy call from the FA’s finest, and Man Utd had a penalty, and a springboard back into the game. We ought not to have fallen apart thereafter, and there’s no telling whether we’d have hung on for victory otherwise, but few dispute it was the turning-point of the game.

2. Rubbish Pre-Season Preparations – Not sure precisely who is responsible for this, but presumably Wendy Ramos ultimately takes the blame. A pre-season that saw us beat everyone we came across, scoring about a trillion goals in the process, counted for absolutely nothing because all those opponents were lower-league Spanish reserve teams or undercooked continentals about three weeks behind us in terms of pre-season. Preparation for the rigours of the Premiership it most certainly wasn’t – something we should have realised when we saw Darren Bent banging them in left, right and centre – and Two-Points-Eight-Games duly followed. Incidentally it’s a mistake now being replicated by the England cricket team ahead of the Ashes.

1. Damian Comolli – Ooh, it makes my blood boil just typing his name. Dodgy signings at inflated prices, and an insistence in interfering in the manager’s role, the blighter darn well almost got us relegated. And how the hell was he qualified, in his mid-thirties and with no decent experience, for the role as Director of Football, or whatever it was, at a Premiership club? Rumours of an Arsene Wenger conspiracy burn brightly here at AANP Towers. Kicked out in October, he’ll be mortified to know that he remains firmly off the AANP Christmas card list.


The AANP 2008-09 end-of-season awards can be found here, and you can join the AANP facebook group here or follow on twitter here-ish.

Spurs match reports

Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Spurs: Gritted Teeth


1. Given over to dissipation; dissolute.

2. Recklessly wasteful; wildly extravagant.


Perhaps not precisely the word then, but as the second half wore on, comfortable though it all looked, the sense grew that we really needed to convert all that possession and all that slick build-up play into a second goal. We threatened a few times, but did not create the really clear-cut opportunity our play merited. “Recklessly wasteful” might not necessarily encapsulate the problem, but we certainly wasted 80 minutes worth of very good possession.As a result, through gritted teeth I at least try to console myself that we played well. Play like that for the final eight games and we ought to make Europe. Still three points lost though.


If short-diagonal-passes-inside-the-defender were women they’d be alluring brunettes with flawless hour-glass figures, and I’d salivate while staring at them too. Some of our football, particularly on the counter, was a delight to behold.

If Wilson Palacios were a woman he’d be a scary fat bird. I would desperately try to avoid eye-contact, and generally steer clear. For 80 minutes Palacios demonstrated why he’s exactly what Spurs have needed for so long in midfield, allowing others around him to try those little sultry-brunette-style diagonal passes.

(N.b. Painful to admit it, butI ought to mention that Jenas is looking the part at the moment. Nothing spectacular, still gets caught in possession occasionally, but he’s generally moving the ball intelligently, and supporting the front men.)

The Big Decisions

While it was our own fault for not scoring the second and wrapping up the game, there is not much doubt that the sending off of Palacios swung the game. General discombobulation followed in our defensive lines.

However, it’s long been a mantra here at AANP Towers, whether playing or watching, never to criticise the ref. The day I play the perfect game, making not a single  mistake, is the day I perhaps earn the right to have a go at him. Until then, whatever the ref says, goes.

The penalty: seemed fair enough. Having been six or seven yards away when the cross was played the defender had some time to get his arm out of the way. Seen them given, seen them not given; on this occasion it was given.

The second yellow card: on first glance it also seemed fair enough – rather clumsy. The slow-mo replay then suggested that it was actually rather unlucky, as young Wilson did make a valiant and fairly successful attempt to duck out of the challenge.

Such musings are academic though: the ref gave the penalty, and showed a second yellow card to Palacios. So, through gritted teeth again, I’ll accept the latter decision and move on.

Sam Allardyce Is Bad For Football 

In between pickling my liver and dancing badly for three years, whilst at uni I stumbled across Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. It states:


“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”

Seems fair enough. Generally prevents such unholy deeds as rape, pillage and suchlike. If Kant’s categorical imperative were applied to Allardyce’s brand of football, no-one would watch any more and the game would die.I could have understood if he resorted to the centre-back-as-auxiliary-striker in desperation, in the final 15 mins, but to do so from half-time onwards was an astonishingly brazen admission of his philistinic approach to the so-called Beautiful Game. Did he really have nothing more subtle and aesthetically-pleasing up his sleeve? Teeth are still gritted, but as a nation let’s all at least exhale collectively in relief that he failed to land the England job.


So that’s another lost three points we can wistfully add to our end-season tally, and think of what might have been. Generally a good performance though. Maybe just a bit “profligate”, or whatever the appropriate word is.

Spurs preview

Blackburn – Spurs Preview: Things Will Never Be The Same

It ought to be thoroughly lovely to be back in the swing of the Premiership, what with our blistering form and the carrot of a European place; but I have to confess that the prospect scares the bejesus out of me.It ought not be thus. On paper we’re the form team in the Premiership. Performances and results throughout March simply got better and better. Optimism at the Lane – and AANP Towers – reached levels hitherto unheard of, to the extent that at half-time vs Chelski we found ourselves in the unlikely position of genuinely believing we could go on and win. And then we went out and there and ruddy well did win. There really ought to be good reason to approach Blackburn away with a measured confidence.

Nevertheless, I’m sick with worry. We stumbled upon that rarest of commodities at White Hart Lane – consistency – but before we had time to become acquainted just about everyone in the squad lolloped out of the door, headed off to airports and began acclimatising to completely different sets of team-mates. The wretchedly-timed international break has gone and destroyed our momentum, and torn to shreds my confidence.

I can’t help but fret that things will never be the same now. It’s like getting back together with an ex after she – or you – ran off with someone else. It’s like the return of Robbie Keane. It’s like waiting years for a sequel to Terminator 2, and then watching, aghast, as Terminator 3 unfolds.

It’s no good pretending that nothing has happened since the last time we were all together, and that everything is tickety-boo. There was a hiatus, everyone disappeared for a while – and now I’m terrified that we’re going to be rubbish again.

Clean Bill of Health (Apart From Bent, Which Really Doesn’t Matter Too Much) 

Fabio Capello’s perplexing decision to withdraw Lennon after 55 mins on Weds has worked in our favour.

Even more bizarrely, Modric was an unused substitute for Croatia that night. The Croatian midfield must be the best in the history of world football if they can afford to leave out Modric, but again, it’s to our benefit.

I was having cold shivers at the thought that Wilson Palacios would hang back in Latin America to mount a Rambo-style rescue mission for his poor sod of a brother, who is apparently still being held for ransom by kidnappers. Again however, it appears that he’s back and fighting fit, with only jet-lag and duty-free allowance to bother him.

In fact, the only injury worry seems to be Darren Bent, and with the best will in the world I think we’ll cope.

Indeed, in the finest tradition of a school trip abroad, we’ve actually come back with more player than we had before, as Alan Hutton is now available for selection.

Don’t Mind Blackbrun; Can’t Stand Allardyce 

Not only does Allardyce peddle a style (I use the term loosely) of football that’s the complete antithesis of easy-on-the-eye, glory glory, all-action-no-plot, champagne football – but he seems to delight in doing so. And then he started insisting that he should be England manager. We ought all to have been rolling in the aisles at that, but the regressive fools at the FA came within a whisker of giving him the job. (Before proving their acumen and appointing Steve McLaren instead.)

I’m not sure I could have coped with the pain of seeing the likes of Joe Cole and Rooney have the talent sucked out of them by Allardyce, with Kevin Davies becoming the mainstay of attack and the concept of “playing the ball into space” involving its launch into orbit.

I don’t just hope we beat his lot tomorrow, I hope we do so playing football so luxurious and free-flowing that it ought to be a shampoo advert. Being exposed to that sort of thing would probably make his skin burn, like a vampire in sunlight. Gasping for breath he’d have to crawl home and watch old DVDs of Wimbledon in the early 90s, to restore himself to health.

Anyway, I hope and pray that we’ll simply pick up where we left off, but have a sickening dread that our season might trail away in the next few weeks, beginning tomorrow at Blackburn, and against Allardyce of all people.