Spurs preview

Spurs – Newcastle Preview: The “Second Favourite Team” Myth

Six games left, and while trips to Old Trafford, Goodison and Anfield look tricky, our home games vs West Brom, Man City and, first of all, Newcastle, are eminently winnable.If you look carefully, the words “home banker” can clearly be seen etched across this fixture. On current form Newcastle are amongst the worst in the Premiership. Two points in six games apparently, which is the sort of stat that threatens to infringe the copyright terms of ‘Arry’s own little motto. Hilariously, they seem to be the only team in history not to have enjoyed the new-manager-bounce, and are consequently making effortlessly serene progress towards the Championship.

Everyone’s Second-Favourite Team 

First of all, nobody in their right mind has a second-favourite team. Football is a monogamous sport. Anyone with a second-favourite team is either related to a player (vaguely acceptable) or a bandwagon-jumping irritant who calls the game “soccer”, whines that there are too few goals and pronounces the “ham” in “Birmingham” (unacceptable, in case you were in any doubt).

I’ll root for whomever is playing l’Arse. I sometimes keep an eye out for Bristol Rovers, as a former classmate plays for them. However, I support only one team. Generally, I either don’t care about or actively dislike the other 19 clubs in the division, and 90-odd in the country. I’m pretty sure these traits are common to most football fans in the country. Anyone who merrily chirps about having a second-favourite team has completely missed the point, and ought really to be tied to a railway track and set alight.

So the notion of a second-favourite team is farcical. The notion that Newcastle is everyone’s second favourite team is miles off-target and utterly bereft of logic. We’re perennially invited to agree that we’d all love to see Newcastle win something – their success-starved fans deserve it apparently.

This is mildly insane. Football isn’t some sort of UN aid programme whereby every starving leper by right gets a bag of grain. Fans just have to accept whatever their team does, and if that means never ever winning trophies, and then getting relegated, so be it. They’ll get no sympathy from anyone else as we’ve all got our own team to worry about.

Non-Newcastle supporters don’t adopt Newcastle as their second team. They occasionally take time out from their own teams to laugh at Newcastle, for their insistence that they have a divine right to success, married to their consistent underachievement. This presumably is fairly similar to the opinion all non-Spurs fans about our lot too. In short, no-one truly cares about anyone other than their own team.

As it happens, we’re laughing at Newcastle for all sorts of reasons at the moment, as they provide a bit of comic relief for everyone else from the seasons’ travails. The magnificent outburst from Joe F**king Kinnear earlier this season was comic genius, and was sandwiched between the more gently amusing exit of Keegan and the slightly daft appointment of Shearer. Shearer’s arm-in-the-air thing was warmly appreciated at AANP Towers when he wore an England shirt, but did not obscure the fact that he was a dirty so-and-so. In his more recent incarnation he has been a pundit of such mind-numbing blandness that he frequently made me want to tear off my own ears and eat them. Won’t shed too many tears if his rescue mission bombs.

Palacios, Pav and Defoe 

A few changes are likely for Spurs. With Palacios back, one of Hudd and Jenas will have to make way, whilst Pav’s slick finish last week may well earn him a starting place ahead of Bent. Jermain Defoe apparently might make the bench. He’s back in full training now, which gives us a few weeks to work ourselves into frenzies over he and Keane will fit together. More immediately however, he’s unlikely to get more than a cameo at the end of the game, by which time the three points ought to be in the bag.

Spurs match reports

Spurs 1-0 West Ham: Defeat of A Faceless Henchman

Really not sure about this whole business of enmity with West Ham. I’m supposed to loathe that lot, but it just seemed like too much effort to scream abuse at them until my face turned purple, or go wandering the High Road afterwards armed with a deranged stare and a machete, or whatever the kids are using these days.I don’t want to sound disloyal, and their fans certainly become rather excitable – but I just don’t care about them enough to hate them.

They’re not based particularly close to us. Their manager is quite likeable. They will end up selling the best of their players to us anyway (before we in turn sell them on to Man Utd). I only know one Hammers fan and he’s a decent fella. I guess what it boils down to is that they just aren’t any real threat to us. Even if they finish above us they’re no real threat to us – in terms of history, fan-base, financial backing or long-term prospects.

With this in mind I didn’t bother antagonising them when previewing the game (they nevertheless bit anyway). And now I can’t be bothered to gloat about victory. West Ham are no ?ber-villain to me; they’re just another faceless henchman to be despatched, en route to a bigger showdown. Another game ticked off, another three points in the bag. That’s as much vitriol as I can muster I’m afraid.

And so to some things that caught the eye on Saturday.

1. Ankle

I only really began to notice how many times per day I pivot on my ankle once I’d sprained it. Admittedly this has little to do with Saturday’s game, but as it’s been my Thought Of The Day for a record seven consecutive days I figured I’d mention it.

2. Too many of our midfielders require Palacios alongside them to look good 

The Hudd continues to polarise opinion. Did he play well or not? To be honest, judgements on this were probably made prior to kick-off. The Hoddle-Reincarnated camp point to his catalogue of gorgeous passes; the Fat-And-Lazy camp point to his general lack of mobility and life-depends-on-it energy. Mind you, the thought of unleashing a Hudd-Palacios midfield combo against Newcastle next week does rather set the pulse racing.

(Some have naughtily suggested that Hudd’s inclusion on Saturday was just a means of advertising him to potential summer suitors. Honestly, as if our glorious leader would be so cynical. Tsk tsk.) 

Zokora’s performance reinforced my opinion that if we really are to mount a serious challenge to the Top Four next season we’ll need to bring in a better understudy for Palacios.

3. Top Dollar Can Buy Top Class 

By contrast our Pav cost £14 mil and has shown he can cut it on the international stage. He had his back to goal and was offering no obvious threat, but put on his dancing shoes, turned his man and scored a peach of a goal. Out of nothing. Reminded me of his goal vs Burnley at home – just a little flash of class, which separates men from boys. It’s the bit of quality you can get when you pay top dollar (or, bearing in mind that Bent cost more than Pav, when you spend top dollar wisely). He still cuts a frustrating figure a lot of the time, but those moments remind that form is temporary, but class is permanent.

4. Modric – So Good He’s Biblical 

So a happy Easter. A win against West Ham, but it might as well have been West Brom for all I cared. Anything less than three points vs Newcastle next week would be pretty shoddy. Thereafter things could get tricky, but we’re definitely safe from the drop, and Europe is still possible. Bring on the next of the faceless henchmen.

Spurs preview

Spurs – West Ham Preview: Cheer Up Chaps

Well this is awkward. Somehow this week I find myself in the unusual, and to be honest, plain uncomfortable position of having to raise everyone else’s spirits. This is foreign territory. Generally more at ease as a pessimistic misanthrope.However, a curious role-reversal now sees me rather looking forward to the season finale. Meanwhile Spurs fans all around me have been sighing melancholy sighs and eyeing steep cliffs over which they might hurl themselves.

The reason seems to be one bad match – in fact, one bad ten-minute spell. Seems strange to me, but the ten-minute meltdown against Blackburn has got Spurs fans tripping over themselves to write off our season and slap the wrists of anyone who cheerfully drops the phrase “European qualification” into conversation.

Curious this, as it’s usually the reverse – i.e. it’s normally one good ten-minute spell, which has us all screeching away about Champions League qualification. For whatever reason though, it’s been sackcloth and ashes this week rather than deluded optimism. The defeat to Blackburn has deflated the masses.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Galling though it was, the Blackburn defeat did not strike me as a return to the bad old (not so old, really) days of widespread sloppiness and a marshmellow-soft spine. I honestly think that if we keep playing like we did against Blackburn we’ll do fairly well in the last few games. Beginning on Saturday at home to West Ham, who currently occupy the seventh spot we should be eyeing.

Admittedly, should we lose on Saturday  we’ll be nine points off the pace with six to play – it will be game over. Win it though, and we’ll be three points off Europe with six to play. Game on, n’est-ce pas?

The Blackburn finale aside, our recent league form has been mighty impressive – four wins, two draws and good performances. Add to that 70 or so good minutes against Blackburn, and we actually remain one of the form teams in the division.

Moreover, our competitors for seventh are hardly the giants of contemporary European football – Wigan, Fulham and Man City, as well as West Ham. Achieving seventh would not mean punching particularly high above our weight, if at all, as this motley crew are all liable to stumble a couple of times en route to the finish line. This is more of a scrap to be less bad than several other harmless mid-table drifters – seventh is a fairly realistic aim, particularly if we can win on Saturday.

So I’m therefore quite perky about the prospect of this end-of-season run-in, even if every time I say as much the music stops and tumbleweed rolls by.

Reasons To Be Depressed

Mind you, it hardly takes much effort to slip back into pessimistic mode. For a start, as well as costing us three points last weekend, that wretched second yellow card for Palacios means he’s suspended for this Saturday. Replacing him would be like trying to replace Mr T as B.A. – there just isn’t anyone else cut out for the role. With no B.A around, Face Man (Modders) will find it a lot harder to pull, if you don’t mind me wandering a little off-course with the analogy.

Presumably do-do-do Dider will take the place of Palacios, but although they start the game on roughly the same patch of turf, Zokora and Palacios are vastly different beasts. We should therefore not expect too much midfield enforcing from the Ivorian, who rather prefers a long meandering gallop to a raw-leg dinner in the centre . I guess it will be a useful exercise, as Palacios’ penchant for a tasty challenge is likely to bring him his fair share of cautions, and therefore suspensions, in the future. There will be more days like this. Gives some food for thought as the summer transfer window creeps up.

Not quite sure how West Ham have found themselves in seventh. Last time I bothered to check they were in a bit of a mess down the rear-end of the division, with Zola’s beaming pearly whites firmly locked behind a worried frown. Now they’re in pole position for the last European spot. Madness, I tell you.

As mentioned, win this one and we’ll be right back in the hunt for Europe. Plenty to play for.

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.

For Queen and Country - England matters

King and Country

Sunday: Ledley gets called up to the England squad.M

onday: Arrys twitches go into overdrive Madness, he rages, The boy cant train all week! His knee swells up the size of Croydon! We only had two points…Tuesday: Ledley gets sent back home by England. (Perhaps for maximal effect this should be read whilst listening to the Benny Hill theme tune)

It seems that Fabio

Einstein Capello and his crack team of monkeys have concluded that Ledleys knee, currently stuck together with sellotape and string, will not stand up to the rigours of twice-daily international training sessions and two international matches per week. In the same press release Capello also revealed that some bears prefer to defecate in woodland areas, and that Pope Benedict is a Catholic. 

As it’s a quiet week for football news the media have gone to town with tales of how the relationship between Fabio and ‘Arry has descended to the level of to-the-death physical combat. Not there are too many direct quotes to substantiate the claims that the pair are not getting along, but the line we’re being fed is that they are not about to skip around hand-in-hand in congenial agreement on what to do with Ledley, who is being tossed around like a lump of meat while the two camps bicker away.Kind of England, King of The Lane 

It seems equally reasonable of ‘Arry to have objected to the prospect of Ledley being asked to train, or play twice in a week, given that he’s physically incapable of either. So far, so good. Despite the exhalation of some hot air, both have got their way.

The more pressing issue was whether Ledley would play for England next Wednesday, as that would have ruled him out of Spurs’ game the following weekend. Club trumped country on that one, and Ledley was sent back to Spurs Lodge, for some hardcore watching from the sidelines as others train.

Lescott and Upson vs Torres and Villa: Scary 

In theory it’s a cracking idea. Ledley’s pockets are bulging, full of all the strikers he’s kept there over the years, for club and country. He would certainly provide excellent cover for Rio as the ball-playing centre-back, and not too many eyebrows would raised if he were considered for the starting XI. In practice, however, the guy is a cripple six days out of seven. His inability to play more than once a week renders him an unaffordable luxury in a World Cup, where games come around every four days or so.

Some have argued that Ledley would be worth a place in a World Cup squad, even though unable to play twice in a week, because, as a stand-by defender, he is better than all the alternatives. Understandable point, when one thinks of, for example, a quarter-final against Torres and Villa, with England boasting Upson or Lescott at the back. A one-legged Ledley would probably instil more confidence than those two.

The Verdict Is… 

Just this once, my argument is not borne of a pro-Spurs bias, for those at All Action No Plot Towers wave their England scarves as enthusiastically as their Tottenham ones. If anything, having a foot in both camps, and with impeccable balance, I am unusually well-placed to offer an objective opinion, in contrast to my usual, excessively blinkered rants.

On a personal level it’s desperately unlucky, for one of the most gifted defenders of his generation. I like to think that I am uniquely positioned to feel Ledley

s pain, given that I too have an unfortunate congenital condition known in medical circles as a twinge which prevents me from training midweek in between Monday night 5-a-side games. Neither Ledley nor I, kindred spirits, are likely ever to represent our country in a World Cup, and purely because of our wretched medical predicaments, callously thrust upon us by a cruel and vengeful Lady Luck. (You see? Its all a womans fault.)So what conclusions to draw from this sorry tale, aside from desperately sympathetic pats of consolation for the blighter? Unfortunately, there is not much left to do but, rather guiltily, wait for Ledley to get back to business in the lilywhite of Tottenham, rather than England. Despite this, I can’t help feeling that the matter is far from closed. There’s a year until the World Cup, and while we should probably just be grateful to see Ledley on the pitch at all, it seems certain that as long as he is playing for Tottenham he will be courted by Fabio’s mafia.

Spurs news

Spurs 1-0 Chelsea: Getting Far Too Carried Away

As the final whistle sounded all restraint and reason duly gave up trying to make themselves heard and discreetly slunk out of the stadium. It was neither the time nor the place for that sort of behaviour.  Instead it is the time for giddy over-excitement, the time to kill the fattened calf and start making our outlandish predictions about next season.The business of getting far too carried away comes as naturally to Spurs fans as that whole inhale-exhale routine. Typically it occurs in the idle pre-season months, to the merriment of rival fans the length of the country, but this sequence of – let’s face it – title-winning form, has us all dispensing with moderation and stampeding towards unrealistic dreams of glory.

Over the last few weeks we’ve all desperately tried to restrain ourselves. The win at Hull? Limited opposition. The thrashing of Boro? Far from flawless performance.

Then things started to get out of hand, with the win against Villa. That was hugely impressive, and left us all scrabbling a little desperately for reasons not to get carried away. Deep inside we became convinced that we were showing form worthy of the top six and better, but such talk remained strictly taboo. Company policy had us all under strict orders that the only topic to be broached was that of avoiding relegation.

Ledley was the first to snap, spouting off this week about how we ought to push for the top four next season. We tutted and clucked, even though in our heart of hearts it’s what we all wanted to say.

However, now that we’ve beaten Chelski – and deservedly so – the shackles have been removed. Let’s not beat about the bush here – we’re fricking awesome!  ‘Arry made a few apologetic post-match noises about not being out of the danger-zone, but no-one believed him, and I don’t think he even believed himself. Chelski are one of the teams that the big Italians and Spaniards are trying to emulate. By the old playground-conker rules, that means that we’re now the envy of Barcelona and Milan. Nine games to go, all eyes on seventh spot. The international break will now rather irritatingly disrupt our momentum, and possibly bring injuries, but we can worry about that later. There’s a warm glow at the Lane, and nothing should prevent us from basking in it.

(Reason and restraint have reappeared at AANP Towers, urgently trying to point out the folly of such excitement at one good month of results, but they have duly been gagged, and banned from the premises for trying to spoil the party).

Gold Stars All Round 

My cap is also doffed in the general direction of Gomes. “Much-maligned” is a prefix now gathering dust, for the big man’s save from Terry was worth a goal yesterday. Back in the glorious 2005-06 season under Martin Jol (blessed be his name) I considered that, between them, Ledley and Paul Robinson did the equivalent of scoring one goal per game, through some unlikely last-ditch tackle or point-blank save. Gomes has now started doing the same. He may still grimace and wince and cry like a baby every time a flea sneezes on him, but I’ll accept that he’s a bit of a fairy if he can continue in this vein.

Oh what the hell, why not? So drunk with pleasure am I that I’ll even lavish praise upon Darren Bent. He will never look like a £16 million striker, but he worked tirelessly yesterday, in the “unsung hero” role, allowing more illustrious and talented peers to hog the headlines. It feels a bit like praising the rubbish fat kid in the school team for showing “good effort”, but Bent should just graciously accept the compliment and go back to Spurs Lodge to work on his finishing.

The bubble will burst, we’ll all be whingeing again soon enough, but for now let’s just enjoy the good times. Keep it going after the international break, and we’ll all be going on a European tour.

Spurs preview

Spurs – Chelsea Preview: A Dirty Secret

As the visit of Chelski approacheth the time is probably right for me to confess my sordid little secret – I don’t actually hate Ashley Cole.Controversial Indifference About Ashley Cole 

The reason for this is probably his level of performance in an England shirt. Generally, he keeps his head down and gets on with things when he’s wearing the three lions. Few histrionics or whinges, unlike some of his international (and club) colleagues. He’s a very solid left-back, pops up with his fair share of last-ditch tackles and goal-line clearances and, as befits the 21st century full-back, he also provides an extra attacking outlet by bombing up the wing.

I feel like I’m dodging rotten tomatoes as I write this, but tomorrow I’ll probably direct my abuse elsewhere. The allegations of greed and infidelity don’t particularly bother or concern me, as they merely suggest that he’s a member of the species homo footballens, completely oblivious to the true nature of life on earth. These players are signed as young teenagers, have the annual GDPs of small African countries waved at them before they’re 21, have hot ladies tripping over themselves to snare them, and have never touched a 9-to-5 job with a bargepole.

Little wonder then, that they grow up with pound signs in their eyes, and a penchant for a bit of skirt, within wedlock or otherwise. Even Saint Gary of Lineker was at it, back in the day. I’m not condoning it – Cole’s a rotter for messing around that minx of a wife – but he’s not alone in living on a completely different planet from the rest of us. 

Bile Towards The Rest of Them 

Drogba for example – built like a boxer, yet cries like a girl who’s been called nasty names. For goodness’ sake, take it like a man. And by “it” I mean everything that comes your way. I’ll never forget the sight of him tumbling like he’d been shot under a tap from Zokora at Wembley last year, picking himself up to score the free-kick, and then comfortably supporting two or three team-mates who jumped on top of him.

Terry seems to think that being an England player cloaks him in immunity from punishment. Quite why he is England captain is bewildering. A role model he most certainly ain’t – unless the asbo generation are seeking inspiration – and neither is he the best player in the team, or even the best player in the pair of centre-backs. That business of him giving a rousing speech before the Croatia game a couple of years ago, also had me spitting feathers. If the team wanted verbal inspiration then the poet laureate ought to have been hauled before them; but the entire business of pre-match speeches by the captain struck me as ludicrous, and entirely worthless once the whistle blew for kick-off. Honestly, if the players weren’t sufficiently psyched for a crunch game like that I hardly think some pearls of wisdom from John “Byron” Terry would have done the trick. And after all that fuss we were rubbish anyway.

I’ll resist the urge to go through the entire Chelski team firing off bile-soaked rants. You get the point. Unlike Peter Kenyon. Not so long ago Kenyon fastened blinkers to his head and quite earnestly banged on about turning them into the biggest club in the world by 2014. Without either an illustrious history or a massive long-term fan-base they will never be categorised as a true great of the English game. I can imagine Kenyon staring blankly at me as I try to explain this, then picking up a bag full of coins and shaking it at me, by way of counter-argument.

’Arry’s CV, Lennon’s Contract 

Lennon against Cole is likely to be critical to the outcome of tomorrow’s game, on which topic, three cheers for young Lennon for putting pen to paper. Wise move, son. It would be convenient at this juncture to forget quite how worthless footballer’s contracts are, and instead breeze into the Lane tomorrow on a wave of goodwill and optimism.

Spurs rants

Spurs Reserves – By Far The Greatest Team The World Has Ever Seen. Honest.

The official Spurs website is astonishing, a propaganda machine almost Orwellian in its slant on life. On the sun always shines, the good guys always win and there is no third-world poverty. In fact, there’s probably no third-world at all, in this planet of fuzzy smiles and merry unicorns. There is just White Hart Lane and the Spurs Megastore, in which FIRST TEAM PLAYERS make GUEST APPEARANCES (fans please note – only two pieces of memorabilia per person may be presented for autographs).Earlier this week Spurs reserves beat Chelski reserves, and our official club website practically wet itself with excitement. I say Spurs “reserves”, but this was not the usual selection of earnest young kids who will eventually be shunted off on loan to Orient before being tossed aside on free transfers without getting a sniff of the first team because we’re too busy blowing £14 squillion on some sub-standard midfielder from Middlesbrough.

No, this reserves team consisted largely of our subs bench from the last couple of weeks. Chimbonda, Bale, Hudd, Bentley, Pav, Campbell (with a guest appearance from Rocha, who not only is still alive, but is still, apparently, making a living as a footballer).

An objective observer might regard the 4-0 win (by our multi-million pound team, against a Chelski XI featuring such luminaries as Ofori-Twumasi, Ahamed and van Aanholt) as perhaps not such an amazing feat. Not that this minor detail – the truth – was going to stand in the way of whichever crazed zealot is in charge of

However, whilst deciphering the newspeak I raised an unhappy eyebrow at some of the finer details of our GLORIOUS WIN – for two of the goals were scored by young Fraizer Campbell.

Campbell in the Reserves: The Case Against 

But the reserves? That should be the place for our own, permanently-contracted players, to get up to speed. For example, playing Campbell meant denying a chance to young Obika, who looked rough around the edges but pretty darned promising on debut vs Shakhtar a few weeks back. The reserve game vs Chelski, in which the result really did not matter, would have been a great chance for Obika to learn alongside Pav, Hudd et al. Instead, a Man Utd striker, for whom we have little further use, was given the full 90 minutes. I’m typing this with just one hand, because with the other I have made a small clenched fist of displeasure. Not full-blown rage, but definite displeasure.

“? ???? ????????” 

However, I can’t help feeling that Pav, Bentley and Hudd would have muttered sullenly under their breath when informed of team selection for this game. When Pav was banging them in for the Ruskis in the shop window of Euro 2008, he would not have been dreaming of a Monday night reserve game in an empty Leyton Orient stadium. Leaves me wondering what the Russian is for “transfer request”. Google translate might have the answer, because sure as hell won’t.

It’s the flip-side of having a (relatively) settled first XI which is producing decent results. The non-starters, while together comprising a mighty fine (and expensive) subs’ bench, will get little more action than ignominious reserve games. No matter how ecstatic the reaction of, I don’t think those guys will be too chuffed about it, and the exit door could therefore see a lot of activity come the summer.

Spurs match reports

Villa 1-2 Spurs: Best Result of the Season?

I’m willing to make a placard, but a whistle and go on a little march along the High Road suggesting to the world that this was our best result of the season.Before you all go spluttering coffee over you computer screens and rolling in the aisles, consider the evidence. Sure, we have raised our game and earned draws against the top four – but those were fairly anomalous results, swiftly followed by apathetic defeats to teams that might well in the Championship in few months time.Wins against the teams at the wrong end of the table were always welcome, but frankly it’s a little embarrassing to get too excited about a win against a team of Sunday-leaguers and students. Like Hull, bless. For me, the real acid tests of our ability have been the games, particular those away from home, against Villa, Everton, and to a lesser extent Man City or even West Ham.

Bizarrely, we’ve taken maximum points from these away days so far. I’ll discount the Man City game, as that turned on a red card, and we haven’t yet travelled to Goodison, but the win at West Ham was a fitting result for a very impressive performance – and yesterday’s against Villa, falls under the same category, but with a bit more treacle on top. Solid defensively and creative going forward, against capable opponents. Far from just a backs-to-the-wall Alamo effort. Second half in particular we were in charge for long periods.  It bodes well for next season.

Where Did It All Go Right? 


Rocket Science

A stat popped up on the screen yesterday noting that in all four league games in which we’ve led at half-time we’ve gone on to win. That can now read five in five. Here’s the technical bit  scoring the first goal forces the oppo to commit men forward. Genius! Maybe they’ll try that every week. It leaves great big open spaces of green, upon which Lennon and Modric gaze with the greedy glee of the Hudd let loose in a cake factory. All wonderfully reminiscent of the all-action-no-plot days of 5-1 wins and the like. So rocket science it most certainly ain’t, but the fact remains that we look mighty impressive on the counter-attack – best facilitated by scoring first.

Jenas, Jenas, Infuriating Jenas

One of his better days, and it still had me screaming at the TV and searching for someone defenceless to strangle. The burst into the area for his goal was reminiscent of Scholes or Lampard, and reminded us all of how good Jenas has often threatened to be. Credit also for his role in the second goal – having lost possession he tracked back 30 yards to win the ball, thereby starting the move which led to Bent’s magnificently-executed finish. I happily acknowledge Jenas’ work-rate and attitude – both first-rate.

And yet, “Jenas” remains a modern-day byword for infuriating, exasperating and the senseless infliction of violence by the infuriated and exasperated upon passing simple-folk. Which Spurs fan hasn’t burst into a torrent of the most foul-mouthed abuse upon seeing the lad sprint 60 yards, do the hard work and get into position, only to pass instead of shoot, or miss an open goal, or miss the ball completely and tumble over?

As well as that, he simply concedes possession too often. I was on special Jenas-Watch yesterday, and although he had some excellent moments around the oppo penalty area, his ability to misplace six-yard passes around the halfway line remains frightening. As mentioned above, I think we’re benefitting from a settled team selection, but in theory I’d still prefer Palacios-Modric in the centre and someone else out left.

Defying Physics

Corluka. The lad defies physics. Visually, everything about him suggests that he’s as slow as an overweight sloth that’s been shot with horse tranquilizer. His legs just don’t move that fast. Watch Bent or Zokora – or, obviously, Lennon – and see how fast their legs move. One of the strange abiding memories in my head is of England-Switzerland at Euro 2004, when we scored our third – Beckham played the ball down the right, and Gary Neville shot into view, his little legs going like the clappers (0.25 on this clip). Corluka’s legs never move that fast. The dictionary defines the term “lumber” as “to move like Corluka”. And yet he’s always on hand to help Lennon on the right. They’re an amazing combo, and were brilliant yesterday. Trying to understand it is making my head hurt.

Date For Your Diaries

Credit to ‘Arry for taking off Didier. Yep, that’s right. On the 16th day of the third month, in the Year of Our Lord 2009, AANP Towers bestowed a shiny gold star upon the lapels of ‘Arry’s jacket.  Our glorious leader may put the “Ary” in “mercenary”, and may blame everyone else for anything that goes wrong, but his substitution was brave and possibly saved us the game.

Although I rather like do-do-do-Didier at right-back, he was being ripped to shreds by that pesky Ashley Young. If Zokora were a dog I’d have marched up to Villa Park myself, pulled out a gun and shot him (to end his misery, not just because I hate dogs). It took bravery – and a yellow card – for ‘Arry to yank him off the pitch a good ten mins before half-time. A pat on the back, sir. Pats on backs all round, in fact – although not for Jenas. I just can’t, I physically can’t.