Spurs preview

Spurs – Manchester United Preview: The Missing Scalp

Our heroes have made a pleasing habit of dispelling various hoodoos in recent months, and the latest to present itself is a ten-year drought against the eleven men of Manchester United and their various assistants in black. Over the last year or so we have torn apart some of the cream of Europe, with United’s the only scalp now missing, and while unbeaten our visitors have looked far from invincible to date this season.Traditionally we tend to use this opportunity to watch Giggs or Scholes run rings around us, but in terms of personnel we can fancy our chances of winning the midfield battle today, for VDV was born for precisely this sort of grand occasion, and Modders is in the form of his life. Moreover, aside from the glamour brought by these chaps, our cause has been bolstered no end by the return of Daws to defence in recent weeks. Was the ever a better set of reasons to rub one’s hands in gleeful anticipation?

‘Arry has been in bullish mood in the press conferences this week, but today’s teamsheet ought to give a clue as to quite how cavalier he intends to be this afternoon. Having stopped and started throughout the season so far Defoe is now back in contention, while Crouch for all his faults has turned into a regular manna-provider for VDV, so our glorious leader must decide between one or t’other. He might even, in the name of the most dreamy form of attacking kamikaze, pick both these two in attack, with VDV shoved into a midfield role somewhere, but one suspects that our approach will be a more conservative 4-4-1-1. The choice of central midfield partner for Modders will also give a hint of ‘Arry’s intentions, Sergeant Wilson representing the more cautious option, Jenas the more adventurous. L

Lose – or even draw – today and the semi-serious title chuntering will have to stop, but our heroes now tend to rise to these big occasions at the Lane.

Spurs preview

Man Utd – Spurs Preview: Gareth Bale’s New Goal Celebration

Writing off our chances at Old Trafford is something of an annual tradition here at AANP Towers. It was generally a pretty painless arrangement, and one to which I suspect many a long-suffering Spurs fan could relate – I would go into the game with what could at best be described as a spirit of defiant optimism, duly return empty-handed (albeit occasionally with a tale of indignant injustice to relate) and the following week would roll on. A thousand well-judged curses, therefore, upon Spurs’ current form, which leads me to believe that this time, maybe, just maybe, we might… you know.No doubt about our current form. The Wilson-less central midfield of Hudd and Modders has meant that we have ball-players galore for when in possession, while retaining the discipline to sit and protect when not in possession. While all and sundry leapt around and made merry during the l’Arse and Chelski wins, yours truly could be easily identified as the chap earnestly rubbing his eyes in disbelief as we won the midfield battle against two of the best teams in the country, before letting young Bale do his thing.

Decisions, Decisions

Should ‘Arry bring back Sergeant Wilson or resist the temptation to fix that which most definitively ain’t broke? Rather a pleasant conundrum upon which to dwell in the evening sunlight, although I hope our glorious leader realises that if we lose tomorrow his decision to restore/exclude (delete as appropriate) Palacios may well prompt a fresh chorus from the ‘Arry Out brigade, who have recently been kicking their heels in frustration. Either way, the potential option to restore Palacios, King and Lennon has me positively gibbering in glee.

After spending so darned long sorting out a song for the boy Bale, it seems we now have to teach him a thing or two about goal celebrations. A Roger Milla style pelvic wiggle gets my nomination, although after Gary Neville’s rather unsubtle display of affection for Paul Scholes’ efforts last week, I guess it’s possible we might be treated to something more forthright. The clash of Bale against Neville should make for cracking viewing. I vaguely recall Sir Alex Ferguson dealing quite neatly with the threat of Chelski’s overlapping full-backs a couple of years ago by deploying Park and/or Fletcher out wide, so no doubt he will have some similarly dastardly scam lined up for our handsome young Welshman.

Another virtuoso Bale performance, a late cameo from Aaron Lennon, and then an evening spent cheering on that ‘orrible lot from down the road, against Man City? It sounds crazy, but it might just work.

Book Signing in Stevenage Waterstones, Saturday 24th, 12pm

In case you missed that, I’ll change the font and add some detail: None other than

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses this Saturday (24th April) at Watestones Stevenage (3 The Forum, Hertford SG1 1ES) from 12 noon. I make that just about enough time to meet the man, grab your book and settle down for the match… 

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

Spurs match reports

Spurs 1-3 Man Utd: Why This Was All Modric’s Fault

Before beginning the gruesome business of the post-mortem I think it’s worth doffing my cap towards Man Utd – they were a quality act yesterday. I demonstrated in my preview that mathematics is hardly the academic subject of choice at AANP Towers, but nevertheless it really did seem that being reduced to 10 men made them play as if they had 12.The Luka-Shaped Hole

If absence makes the heart grow fonder my feelings for Luka Modric had turned into a complete man-crush by the end of yesterday’s game. The problems caused by his absence were two-fold. For a start – and admittedly it’s not rocket-science – we massively missed his contribution on the left. Robbie Keane was a square peg in a Luka-shaped hole, and came nowhere near replicating the class of the Modmeister, for which he can hardly be blamed I suppose. Curiously, by the second half it seemed that ‘Arry simply dispensed altogether with the whacky idea of deploying someone on left midfield, and left BAE to attack, defend, bat, bowl and keep wicket all on his own up and down the left-hand patch. Keane took up permanent residence in the centre, and even his replacement Kranjcar seemed only to station himself towards the left with reluctance.

The other problem caused by Luka’s absence was the very fact that Keane was removed from attack in order to play on the left. To date this season, Keane as a striker has been able to drop back as necessary to create a temporary five-man midfield. We could have done with that at times yesterday, as the Man Utd midfield bossed things. In fact they themselves made use of an attacker dropping deep, with the dastardly Berba occasionally sticking out a languid leg here and there in midfield. Our own attacking pair, of Crouch and Defoe, did not really offer that flexibility. Conclusion? This was all Modric’s fault.

The Second-Best Midfield

Anti-climactic stuff from Lennon, who could not have been more thoroughly shackled if he had been trussed up in a straitjacket with a ball-and-chain on his ankle for good measure.

The Hudd started fairly anonymously, and his influence waned thereafter. If the big lad wants to know the sort of standard he should be striving to emulate he need only look at the man whose shadow he chased for an hour yesterday. Scholes gave a masterclass in how to keep things ticking over in midfield. Tackling aside, mind.

I actually thought that Sergeant Wilson began the game in encouragingly bright and breezy fashion – as typified by the tackle that led to our goal – but once he received his yellow card his options were rather limited, and his half-time withdrawal was understandable.

And so, for the first time this season, to your hero and mine, Jermaine “Sideways! Backwards!” Jenas. Believe it or not I was rather impressed by the entrance he made, taking the fight to United as soon as he entered the fray and very nearly scoring a peach of an equaliser. However, that was about as good as it got. We’ve waited about four months to lay into Jenas, and had to wait another 20 minutes or so after his introduction yesterday, but once the poor blighter made a mistake by golly White Hart Lane let him know about it.

Discrimination at White Hart Lane. Despicable, In This Day And Age.

There was one curious incident in the second half when Crouch and his marker (I forget who) prepared to challenge for a header inside the penalty area, and the marker did his level best to yank the shirt off Crouch’s back in a most sordid manner. In hope rather than expectation I glanced towards the ref – and saw him put the whistle to his lips. Scarcely able to believe it I let out a celebratory yelp, only to see the ref award the free-kick to Man Utd. It’s a phenomenon that unfortunately follows Crouch wherever he goes, and one to which we will all have to become accustomed in future weeks and months.

That aside Crouch did what he is paid to do, and can hardly be blamed for his team-mates’ propensity to belt the ball at his head and yell “Go fetch”. I prefer him coming off the bench as an impact sub, and yestrerday’s evidence did not alter that opinion, despite the first-minute assist.

Elsewhere on the Pitch…

Nicely taken goal from Defoe, on just about the only occasion he touched the ball. Another good shift from BAE. Unfortunately the best player in lilywhite was possibly the one in green, Cudicini making two or three very good saves.

We had our chances, notably in that little 20-minute second half spell, and were only a couple of inches away from equalising through Jenas or Crouch. In the final analysis however, the scoreline did not flatter United. The sending-off of Scholes presented the perfect platform for us, but rather than relentlessly batter down the United door we knocked a couple of times and politely waited for them to open up. We have certainly not become a bad team overnight, but there was proof, lest it were needed, that we remain a work in progress. And a poorer one for the loss of Modric.


Graham Roberts is one of the players featuring in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book looking at players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club. Feel free to share your favourite memories of the man – or browse those of others – right here, while memories are warmly welcomed on players already featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here