All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

The All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs This Season

Old hat it may be for everyone else, but here at AANP Towers we bounce around the walls like toddlers on a strict diet of fizzy drinks and E-numbers as we await the start of our Premiership season. Still, rather than pacing the corridors, rubbing hands together in feverish anticipation until tomorrow night, it occurred to me that the time is rather ripe for making public the various musings that have echoed around the walls of AANP Towers all summer. By golly that’s right – in no particular order, it’s the All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs’ Coming Season!1. Solve The VDV Conundrum

This one moonlights under the crafty pseudonym “Get Our Strikers Scoring Again”. While he has more talent than the rest of our forwards put together, the uneasy truth may be that VDV’s presence has rather discombobulated our strikers. Like gravity and the temperature at which water boils, that Messrs Pav and Defoe prefer playing within a front two is a scientific truth. Indeed, given a weekly starting-berth and a 4-4-2 one imagines that both would be capable of hitting 20 goals a season (although maybe not alongside each other). However, playing as the lone striker supported by VDV suits neither.

The solution we’ve been screeching from the stands for over a year is the purchase of a striker capable of playing on his own, Adebayor now apparently having displaced Llorente and Rossi atop that particular list. Be it a new signing, or somehow shoving VDV into a 4-4-2 – or even as my Spurs-supporting chum Ian recommends, shoving Bale up top – we really need our strikers to hit 40+ goals between them this season.

(While there is the Crouch option, which does sporadically bear fruit for VDV, my fragile mental state is such that I may eat my own brain if I have to endure another season of his headers flying off a random angular point of his cranium and looping gently into the Paxton.) 

A moot point admittedly, because if he comes ambling towards us making a heart with his hands it means a you-know-what scored by you-know-who, and we would all gratefully accept one of those each week. Nevertheless, one can hardly imagine Bruce Willis skipping off with heart-shaped fingers after capping a bad guy, or Mike Tyson acting similarly after pummelling some poor blighter back in his hey-day. Tyson bit off people’s ears dagnabbit, and while that might be a tad extreme, I hope that this season Bale produces something a bit less akin to an eight year-old girl celebrating the creation of a daisy-chain.

3. Kyle Walker to Prove He Can Defend

Having existed on a right-back diet largely comprising Vedran “Usain” Corluka and Alan Hutton last season, hopes are high for young Master Walker, particularly after his loan at Villa somehow ended up with him being shoe-horned into Fabio’s England squad. I confess I barely watched Villa last season, but Walker’s U21 exploits this summer made interesting viewing: plenty of youthful brio when flying forward, but defending remains a crucial – if oft-overlooked – facet of being a defender, and on this topic the jury at AANP Towers wandered out and is yet to return. Harking back to his occasional Spurs appearances a year or two back (Bolton/Blackburn away?) he looked promising enough, but a hardly the finished article, a soft penalty numbering among a couple of mistakes.

He will get his chances, particularly in the Europa League, and looked impressive enough against Hearts, which might help answer the crucial question: can the lad defend? Until that one is answered I’d quite happily go with Kaboul at right-back.

4. Pav to Stop Whingeing

When the mood takes him he’s a mighty fine player, one who seems to delight in scoring spectacularly from 25 yards rather than anything more mundane, but goodness me, Pav acts like a big old baby at times. He was not built for a 4-5-1, nor has he had a consistent run in the team, so one sympathises, but every time a butterfly sneezes near him he squeals and goes down, and whenever a pass is placed a couple of yards beyond him that look of pained anguish is etched across his face, tears seemingly just around the corner, and arms inevitably a-flapping. For goodness sake sir, life is not fair, it’s the same for all of us – just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

5. Hudd to Speed Up 

6. Fewer of Those Goalkeeping Clangers

Oh to have been a fly on the wall during transfer negotiations with Brad Friedel. Presumably he has not joined with the intention of warming those comfy-looking seats on the sidelines all season, yet Gomes appears the custodian as we chug along towards the belated season opener. Nevertheless, Friedel’s arrival can be interpreted as a shot of Jagerbomb at the Last Chance Saloon for Gomes: no more flapping. And that incorporates the fumbling of straightforward, straight-at-yer shots approaching with all the power generated by a sedated kitten, as well as general flailing at corners. Early signs, from the friendly vs that Spanish lot and the Europa game vs Hearts are not entirely encouraging – Gomes’ shot-stopping looked decent but one can almost hear the panic bells ringing in his head as a set-piece is delivered in his direction…

7. Don’t Sell Niko Kranjcar

A

dmittedly the opta stats would probably reflect that Pienaar covers about three times as much ground as Kranjcar, but while he may be a tad, ahem, languid, the Croat has undiluted magic in his boots, and given our struggles to break down rubbish teams last season he may have delivered that je ne sais quoi for which we searched in vain. On his rare opportunities last season he delivered a couple of belting strikes, and in midfield against the admittedly rubbish Hearts last week he looked imperious. Still, when Bale was absent ‘Arry seemed willing to try everyone but Kranjcar on the left, and the signing of Pienaar was about as unsubtle as it gets when it comes to ‘Arry’s plans.8. Joe Jordan to Eat Someone

Literally. Deep down he must be dying for a fight, and having restrained himself against Gattuso last season maybe, just maybe, Joey Barton or Arsene Wenger may push him just a bit too far on the touchline this season…

9. Finish in the Top Four 

10. Owen Coyle to Take Over When (“If”) ‘Arry Leaves Next Summer 

Controversial one this, not least because, as the pedants amongst you will have noted, an a wish-list for this season ought not to concern itself with next season. However, the chances are that when Fabio scrams in summer 2012 ‘Arry will cry God for England and St George. I admit immediately that my knowledge of up-and-coming European bosses is negligible, but of the British lot Coyle impresses me. All sorts of caveats here – not least that he’s unproven at a big club, with the cash, egos and whatnot – but he turned Bolton from a loathsome long-ball team to one that plays jolly decent passing football. Just a thought.

Spurs 2-0 Sunderland: Keane’s Contract & Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge

A curious one, this. Back in the days of yore, when Luka Modric limped off against Birmingham, I don’t think anyone foresaw things panning out quite this way. Robbie Keane undroppable, wingers treated like lepers, long-ball upon long-ball. We’re muddling through, but the sooner both the Croatian genius and Lennon return, the better.It’s A Legal Requirement 

Not that Keane is necessarily the fall-guy for the derby defeat last week – just about everyone was culpable that day, and any one of 11 could have been dropped. However, the 4-3-1-2 adopted by ‘Arry seemed at best a curious choice at kick-off. With Bentley, Bale and Kranjcar all left shivering on the bench, the various members of the White Hart Lane Detective Agency were each reaching the same conclusion – it was done to accommodate Keane.

I suppose that in ‘Arry’s head prior to kick-off it must have seemed a thing of genius – something like a midfield diamond, with Hudd pulling the strings at its base, and Keane working off the little-and-large front pair. On paper it had everything.

Wide-Boys

On grass unfortunately, it was an unsightly mess. The creative nous of Jenas, Hudd and Palacios extended to the all-too-familiar procession of long balls into orbit for the beanpole. As I craned my neck for the umpteenth time, the same point kept nagging away: why don’t we go wide? Alas, the question took me back to a scene from the cracking Red Dwarf

 

CAT: Why don’t we drop the defensive shields?
KRYTEN: A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don’t have any defensive shields, and two, we don’t have any defensive shields. Now I realise that, technically speaking, that’s only one flaw but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

To the left and right great swathes of turf lay unsullied by human feet, our wingers having been pointedly omitted altogether from the game-plan. The only semblance of width came from full-backs BAE and Charlie, neither of whom have ever exactly been fêted for their capacity to bomb up and down the flanks. With no genuine wingers on the pitch, too often we ended up back on board the long-ball train.A Gold Star To Our Match-Winner

Uninspiring stuff then. The early goal was a bonus (coming, incidentally, from a rare cross from the flanks) and we had reason to bow gratefully to the White Hart Lane woodwork.

Keane and Hudd are the names on the scoresheet, but make no mistake, Gomes was our match-winner. A penalty save makes for an obvious headline, but it was one of a number of cracking saves in each half, worth a couple of goals. If things aren’t clicking in midfield (and they rarely do at the moment, without Lennon and Modders) it’s mightily reassuring to know that that the last line of defence is on top of his game. What a difference a year makes.

Darren Bent’s Comedy Show Returns To The Lane 

Gloriously however, it was a return to the bad old days for Dazza. There are goals, and wins, but with all the history and pre-match hype, Gomes’ save from Bent’s penalty – and the mini-carnival it prompted in the stands – ranks as one of the highlights at the Lane so far this season.

Perhaps a little harsh on young Mr Bent to be tormented quite so mercilessly (references to Sandra Redknapp amongst those gleefully raining down after the penalty miss), given that he top-scored for us, rarely sulked and generally beavered away in lilywhite. Nevertheless, it was riotous fun, and after having seen Bent perfect the look of disbelief through numerous hopeless misses in lilywhite, it was most satisfying to see him strike that pose once more, in opposition colours.

Darren Bent’s Twitter Revenge 

(It does not seem coincidence that no sooner do I resume the mockery of Monsieur Bent, then the AANP

Twitter account gets hacked, with spam fired off in all directions in the good name of AANP. Sincere apologies if you were one of those on the receiving end; the problem, I think, has been resolved.)

Crisis Over
The penalty save may have been the turning-point, but the half-time switch to more orthodox 4-4-2, followed by the introduction of Krancjar for Keane, also helped steady the good ship Tottenham. By the end of the game we were even putting together the occasional slick passing move.

And a random point of note – w

hat on earth is that party-trick Assou-Ekotto keeps showing off? The one where he leaps horizontally three feet in the air and scissor-kick volleys backwards? It’s very fancy, and actually turned out to be quite effective, just rather a bizarre sight.It’s the mark of a championship-winning team to win when not playing particularly well. This was not vintage Spurs, but the win hauls us out of our crisis (relax… I jest). The three points do keep us very much in the hunt for fourth, and performances will improve as our key attacking outlets return. While it is always exciting to see what whacky strategy will be deployed each week to make up for the absence of Modric, I think we’ll breathe easier once the little fella returns.

 

Apologies to all who received Twitter spam from AANP this week, after the account was hacked by computer-box deviants. AANP on Twitter here – now cleansed and refreshed – and the Spurs Cult Heroes – AANP Facebook fan group here 

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Spurs – Sunderland Preview: Are Tottenham A Club In Crisis?

Are we a club in crisis? While I hate to disappoint the doom-mongers and mischievous press-men, it is a little too hasty to go down that route just yet.Come the full-time whistle we ought to have a clearer idea of where we stand. Naturally, this being White Hart Lane, moderation is not welcome. Our fortunes tomorrow will swing wildly one way or t’other, either back on track to challenge the top four, or sliding irreversibly towards mid-table obscurity and worse. Such is life at the Lane.

We’re Doomed I Tell Ye, DOOMED 

Relax. We’re Fine. Chill, Winston. 

We’re not as good as the top three, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’re competing for fourth, and will continue to do so as long as we show that the Stoke defeat was an anomaly. Until Stoke we were generally picking up points against the mid-table/bottom-half teams, and this trend needs to be continued throughout the season and beginning tomorrow.

Good News From The Fixture-List 

AANP’s Prayer For Tomorrow

After the Stoke debacle, the prayer of choice being humbly offered heavenwards is that we score early tomorrow, or at least score first. Without Modric (and possibly Lennon) we lack the je ne sais quoi to unlock a deep-lying, packed defence set on gaining a point from first minute to last (see Stoke). Score an early goal however, and we’ll be laughing. Well, maybe not laughing – being Tottenham, we’ll find a way to complicate things – but at least scoring an early goal will allow us space and counter-attacking opportunities.

I therefore find myself hoping that Sunderland have a go at us, or at least resist the urge to set up two banks of four, and then just sit back and repel. Should they venture forward (and the chances of this are obviously exponentially increased if we get the first goal) there will be a bit of space behind them to exploit. They will henceforth become putty in our hands, and we shall toy with them. As flies are to wanton boys shall the trailing Sunderland be to counter-attacking Tottenham. Then the final whistle will go and we’ll all live happily ever after, for a fortnight.

Worst-Case Scenario

We Spurs fans have turned the Ludicrous-and-Disproportionate-Howl-of-Anguish-and-Baying-for-Blood into an art-form. Another insipid defeat tomorrow would be like releasing a coiled spring of vitriol, and the hills will be alive with the sound of calls for the whole team to be sold, ‘Arry’s coaching staff sacked and football destroyed forever.

Place Your Bets

Darren Bent will score, ‘tis written in the stars.

 

As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereY

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

Arsenal – Spurs Preview: Good News and The Usual Grumble

Normally the points in this fixture are rather an irrelevance, but this time there is more at stake than just bragging rights. The sides go into the game separated only by goal difference, and the three points up for grabs could prove crucial come May. Ultimately, league position is the gauge, and this season for a change we have a realistic chance of finishing above l’Arse. Our squad is much improved, a degree of consistency has been added and player for player there isn’t much to choose between the two teams, even in the absence of our pint-sized attacking triumverate. Plus, unlike the last time we challenged them, Paul Stalteri is now nowhere near the squad. Irrespective of the result tomorrow, the gap has narrowed and come the end of the season we could well finish higher than them.I earnestly suggested all this to my l’Arse-supporting colleague at lunch today, and while he nodded politely enough he could not disguise a smirk. Which speaks volumes.

The Good News

The good news is that Ledley is back. “Good news” is an understatement, for these are almost certainly the three greatest words in the English language.

Woodgate may be available; Crouch – threatening a robot celebration if he does the business tomorrow – has a hat-trick to his name against l’Arse, in his previous incarnation as a scouser; while Bentley must have gazed at his reflection in the White Hart Lane mirrors even more adoringly than usual after his excellent performance as Lennon’s deputy on Tuesday, against Everton. Full-strength we may not be, but strong nevertheless.

The Usual Grumble 

Curiously, for a man so uniquely capable of inspiring a thousand foul-mouthed tirades from his own fans, Jenas has a rather impressive pedigree against l’Arse. A couple of years back he scored a lovely last-minute equaliser at the Lane; and a year ago almost to the day he produced an absolute blinder at the death in the 4-4 game, the sort of goal about which pundits and fans alike would been raving all season if scored by anyone who wasn’t Jermaine Jenas.

I also recall, with some bewilderment, that there was a brief period under Wendy Ramos when Jenas grew his hair and became awesome. He genuinely looked like he had indeed stepped up a level, and his feats included the first goal in the 5-1 spanking of l’Arse. It proved the exception rather than the norm in his career, but provides some cause for optimism.

Things I’d Like To See on Saturday: Absence of Kamikaze 

My wish-list for this week therefore comprises things I don’t want to see happening. Like Sergeant Wilson picking up two reckless yellow cards. Or Robbie Keane having a penalty saved. Or Gomes dropping a clanger. There would be something quintessentially Spurs about doing all the hard work and then gifting away the game on a plate, through one moment of madness.

I was going to end with a little SWOT analysis of our opponents, but then I realised I don’t actually care about them. Instead, have another viewing of Bentley’s greatest moment in lilywhite.

 

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereY

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

Spurs 2-0 Everton: Squad Depth & The Benny Hill Penalty

We’re great when we’re winning. Opponents are forced to push forward, and we duly pick them off on the break, with the clinical precision of a trained sniper (until Keane starts stumbling over his own feet). We have the players, including those on the fringes of the squad, to counter with pace and inventiveness, on top of which it makes for a cracking spectacle.It doesn’t really solve the problem thrown up on Saturday, of what to do when the opposition sits deep and the opening goal is impossible to come by; but that’s for another day. Most neutrals would verify – when we score first, we’re a great team. It was honours even in the opening exchanges last night; but once we had our goal, Everton pushed forward and we look ever more potent on the break.

Personified By Hudd 

It all worked out swimmingly, with even Assou-Ekotto indulging in some party tricks by the end of the game. Although we were well worth a two-goal victory, Everton had their chances, but, pleasingly, Gomes was equal to all of them. Dawson, again was immense at the back, while Sergeant Wilson snarled and harried like any good guard dog should.

Plenty in Reserve 

Bentley: Imagine how good Bentley and his hair gel would be under a manager who loved him and in a team which made him their focal point. No-one doubts his technique and skill, but rarely has it been put to particularly good use in lilywhite. Yesterday however, while a little hit-and-miss in the early stages, he ended up turning a performance I am tempted to label “virtuoso”.

The control was immaculate, stepovers effective, crosses generally dangerous and work-rate exemplary. Different sort of player from Aaron Lennon, but with the ickle one unavailable for Saturday, it’s nice to know that we have ourselves a Bentley in good form. He may perhaps have got a little carried away with all the party tricks but the ability to beat a man is quite a weapon to have. On those frustrating occasions when a defence needs unlocking, he at least carries the potential to jink past a defender and make some space (a quality that could hardly be attributed to Hudd). On another day, as we are all well aware, those constant Maradonna impressions will come to nothing and he will be maddening to watch, but last night it worked.

Bale: Good to see Bale looking up to speed as well, particularly in a midfield position which I think suits him better than full-back. The memories of his first few matches in lilywhite, under Martin Jol (blessed be his name), linger long in the AANP memory, so it is with pleasure that I note he turned in a good performance. A genuine left-footer on the left of midfield gave us a nice shape, and it’s a handy alternative to Kranjcar.

Pav: Poor old Pav. Not his night, was it? Suspicion, bordering on certainty, remains that we’ll be bidding him “?? ????????” come January.

Hutton: When God made Corluka, it appears that he out of curiosity he took all the ingredients and reversed them, to see what the polar opposite would look like. The result was Alan Hutton – a quick, bald, attack-minded right-back who, one suspects, does not give an awful lot of thought to defending. He did well enough, and the combo with Bentley worked well.

Would Have Been So Much Simpler If Keane Had Blasted It Into A Corner

By golly, when Hudd gets them right his shots look likely to tear the net from its moorings, yesterday being a case in point. Couldn’t help but note that his expression on scoring was that of a man who felt he had been copping unfair flak from AANP the previous day…

As for the penalty – what a glorious throwback to the days of manic playground football, when the next-goal-wins rule comes into play and all hell breaks loose amidst a ruck of bodies and two jumpers. From spot-kick to net-bulger there were six efforts on goal. Crikey. All that was missing was the Benny Hill theme tune. Poor old Tim Howard is entitled to feel a little aggrieved, after making more saves in ten seconds than your average Premiership ‘keeper will make in two full games against Stoke, and credit is due to Keane for some nifty technique in finally scoring; but that does not excuse various other moments of profligacy on his part. For the love of God, sharpen up man, before the visit to l’Arse.

Happy days then – a convincing win, clean sheet, back-slaps all round. Chelski, l’Arse and Man Utd remain in the Carling Cup, but another trip to Wembley is conceivable.

 

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here 

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

Spurs – Everton Preview: Premiership Points or Carling Cup?

If you enjoy those 15 half-time minutes when the subs come trotting out and half-heartedly ping the ball around, you’ll love tonight. Pav, Bentley, Hutton and Bale are all in line to start, as ‘Arry rings the changes with half an eye (in a manner of speaking) on Saturday’s game.

League or Cups? (Why Not Both?)

The absences of King, Woodgate, Lennon, Modric and Defoe force most of the changes upon us irrespective of the prioritising. The only optional changes ‘Arry is likely to make are in attack – where I suspect most of us would like to see Pav get his chance anyway – and in the full-back positions.

My tuppence worth is that I don’t particularly want to see Hutton and Bale in for Charlie and BAE at full-back. This has less to do with the quality of the personnel (I’m rather a fan of Bale as it happens) as the fact that our team is already mightily disrupted with all the injuries. Making unenforced changes on top of those is asking for trouble, particularly in defence, where in the absence of Ledley the players sometimes appear a little uncertain as to the names of the chaps alongside them. All members of our squad are capable Premiership-standard players, but make too many changes and the team’s performance could be as aimless as those half-time exercises.

I’ll be curious as to whether Sergeant Wilson starts. An injury or suspension to him really would give our squad for Saturday the look of a man who’s had his spine ripped from his body, something ‘Arry will presumably have taken into account. However, without him tonight we find ourselves looking towards the might of Jenas and Hudd to boss the game. Forgive me for feeling a little underwhelmed at the prospect, particularly as Tim Cahill in the opposition ranks will give us a glimpse of what we’re missing in central midfield. Still, after flattering to deceive against Stoke Jenas and Hudd owe us a good performance each.

So a rare opportunity for the squad players, and added responsibility on the shoulders of Dawson, Jenas, Hudd and Crouch. Not necessarily a line-up to have Everton quivering in their boots, but I’m pinning my hopes on home advantage seeing us through.

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

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

 

Spurs 0-1 Stoke: A Spot of Hudd-Bashing

A few weeks ago we hit Burnley for five despite not playing particularly well; this time our scratchy performance did not have a five-goal veil to mask it.Bravo Stoke

 

To their credit they did not let us carve open a clear-cut chance in front of goal, our best opportunities coming from crosses and longer-range efforts. Praise is due particularly to their ‘keeper Simonsen for the full-length fingertip stuff, and also for impressively began his time-wasting with just 24 minutes showing on the big clock.

Hudd: The Debate Rumbles On…

 

In his defence, his passing ability was rather stifled by the soul-destroying lack of movement from team-mates, and also by the fact that it is pretty darned difficult to play an incisive ball behind a deep eight-man defence.

The case for the prosecution however, will point to numerous aimless balls punted in all directions, as well a curious determination to nip in the bud any counter-attacking impetus we had, by slowing down the game or conceding possession as we looked to scamper forward.

… And Niko Kranjcar, Don’t Think You’re Getting Let Off Lightly Sonny

Like Hudd, Kranjcar is a player of good technique ( he does strike a sweet long-range shot), which renders it all the more perplexing that these two insisted on so many touches whenever they received possession yesterday. The notion of slick, pacey one-touch football seemed a million miles away, and the problem was compounded by the frequent misplacing of passes, short and long, or dawdling on the ball to get caught in possession. This was Stoke’s cue to swing a leg and hoist the ball into orbit, for Dawson to head back, and begin the process all over again.

I and 30,000-odd fellow spectators can be notoriously fickle, and the grumblings of discontent tend to filter through sharpish at the Lane when matters are not going to plan. In such circumstances we need at least to see the players looking like they are playing with some urgency, so it is perhaps unfortunate that the Hudd and Kranjcar simply bear the appearance of sluggishness, even if they are working their socks off. Both appeared guilty of rocking on their heels too frequently yesterday, in common with various other team-mates.

Energy From Lennon and Jenas

 

It appeared that salvation might come from the unlikely source of Jenas, and he deserves credit for his earnestness and energy – but Gazza Mk II he ain’t, and his willing alone was not enough to fashion a clear chance.

While I have singled out Hudd and Kranjcar, the general lack of movement was galling, and we were also undone by the players working at cross-purposes throughout. Simple give-and-goes went awry as players gave and didn’t go, or both went at the same time, or generally were looking in the wrong direction at the crucial moment; and a Stoke player duly swung a leg, and Dawson headed back, and it all began again, as the sound of weeping began to emanate from AANP Towers.

The Captain’s Armband

 

 

 

 

 

One final rant – as I’m on a roll here – is the fact that the captain’s armband was passed from Keane to Hudd to Jenas. Call it Exhibit A in the case to convince anyone still in doubt as to whether we lack on-field leadership.The Good News

 

Good news part two – we’re still in the top four, as the dropping of expected points is rather becoming the vogue amongst our rivals this season.

Good news part three – I think we’d all take a defeat to Stoke if it could be followed by a win at l’Arse…

 

 

 

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereYou can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here.

 

Spurs-Stoke Preview: A Chance To Pay Tribute To Bill Nick

Believe it or not, win this by four goals and we’ll be top of the table, albeit until Chelski conclude their evening game. Try informing your nearest Spurs-supporting chum of this fact, and the chances are that you will be greeted with little more than a nod of approval and a healthy dose of perspective. Along with our consistency to date, the general realism of fans this season has been just as startling. We are all aware that we could be on the brink of something very, very good; but equally, there seems to be a healthy realisation that we remain a work in progress. That said, we’ll all be demanding three points today.Crouch Get His Chance

 

Crouch was snapped hurling down some slightly awkward-looking shapes after last Saturday’s game, and although the media did their best to sensationalise the “story” beyond all reasonable sense of perspective, they soon tired of that, particularly as ‘Arry treated it with little more than a shrug. I suspect it’s not what the continental players do, while rugby players apparently spend their post-match hours indulging in such unholy practices as sitting in ice-baths for reparatory purposes. Nevertheless, there seems no harm in a cheery night out with team-mates, a full week before the next game. Certainly the patrons of AANP Towers are in no position to judge a man who spends his Saturday nights on a London boogie floor…

Squad Depth. Ruddy Marvellous.

Woodgate should be back in the team today, for the first time this season. While Liverpool whinge about losing Gerrard and Torres (both of whom featured in their defeat at the Lane on the opening day of the season) it is a sign of the strength of our squad that despite the absences of Woodgate all season, Modric for half the season, and the likes of Ledley, Palacios, Dawson and Defoe at various points, we are deservedly in the top four.

So, aside from three points obviously, what would AANP like to see transpire from its lofty perch?

1. A Four-Goal Win To Take Us To The Top Of  The Premiership

Being top in August is fun but inane; being top when the clocks go back is, frankly, fantastic. ‘Tis true, ‘Arry would be unbearably smug if it transpires that he takes us from bottom to top in exactly a year, but I’d still give my right arm to see it happen.

2. Goals From Woodgate and Dawson

 

3. A Clean Sheet

 

4. A Blinder From Jenas/Hudd

 

5. A Tribute To The Great Bill Nicholson

 

I am sure the fans will pay tribute to him today, it is to be hoped that the club does likewise in some official capacity – and how fitting it would be if we could end the game sitting proudly atop the table once more, as Bill Nicholson took us as both player and manager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereYou can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here.

 

Portsmouth 1-2 Spurs: Complicating the Uncomplicated

Not so much a game of two halves as a game of two thirds and a third third. We seemed to be cruising serenely after an hour or so – but then that wouldn’t be the Tottenham way, would it? Cue a wild thump of the self-destruct button, the halving of our lead and a daft sending off. The three points were eventually achieved in slightly nerve-jangling, harum-scarum style. Not for the first time I mused at the final whistle that Tottenham Hotspur ought to come with a health warning.Comedy Gold

The game could have been wrapped up within the first ten minutes, as Defoe might have a had a hat-trick. It rather set the tone, as we were the better team in the first half, and not for the first time the presence of Ledley at the back made a world of difference. A couple of weeks ago away to Bolton, in the absence of Ledley the back-four resembled a bunch of strangers – all of whom were mightily suspicious of the round white thing – but yesterday, particularly in the first half, he had things well under control. There was one scare, when a Corluka mistake left our back-four badly out of position, but let that not distract from the resulting moment of pure comedy gold from the Portsmouth forward Dindane, blasting over an open goal from a yard out, the sort of chance even Sandra Redknapp would have snaffled up.

Other than that, Pompey were reduced to long-range shots in the first half, mainly from Boateng, who seemed determined to have a crack every time he touched the ball, no matter the angle, distance or scientific impossibility. Ledley looked typically regal in rising to head home the opener, and as mentioned, we sailed through the first half pretty serenely.

Hudd and Jenas 

Jenas did not run the show as he might have done, but ‘twas notable that on the one occasion on which he burst forward he set up Defoe’s goal. There’s a salutary lesson in there – I would like to see Jenas gamble like that more often. Just take a chance man, break into the opposition area and see what happens.

Complicating The Uncomplicated

Two-nil, and cruising. In a parallel universe there’s a Tottenham team who achieve such positions and proceed to see out the game with minimal fuss and flawless professionalism. Their fortunes are charted on the Spurs blog Generous Amount of Action, Strong Understanding of Plot. Back on planet earth, with half an hour to go we did a fine job of complicating the uncomplicated. Portsmouth scored through Boateng, inevitably (seems a shame to criticise Gomes after he made some awesome saves, but he might have done better with the goal), and where once Defoe might have bitten an opponent’s arm, this time he trod on his leg, and saw red. No real complaints about the sending-off – not the most vicious challenge ever, but daft and petulant, leaving the ref with little option – and ruling Defoe out of the North London derby in a fortnight.

For five minutes thereafter we actually upped a gear, but it soon turned into a bit of an Alamo, with Dawson and Palacios thrown on for security, and the cheery sight of five added minutes of injury time. Gomes produced three top-drawer saves, the first in particular, from Kaboul’s deflected free-kick, looks better on every viewing, while we could also be thankful for another piece of truly comical finishing from the boy Dindane.

In the final analysis it is a strange game to summarise – on balance, when it was eleven against eleven we looked good value for a win, and yet we had to rely on three brilliant saves and two missed open-goals from Portsmouth. Having had the game in the bag at half-time, we almost let it slip through sloppiness and lack of self-discipline. However, despite going down to ten men away from home we didn’t capitulate, and a quarter of the way through the season we remain comfortably ensconced in the top four. Whisper it, but the 2009/10 Tottenham vintage is really rather tasty.

 

Chris Waddle is the latest player to be featured in the forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, and you are invited to share your memories of him here. As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the other featured players: Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here
(If you fancy following the progress of Spurs’ Cult Heroes you can do so on the Facebook fan group just about here)

Bolton 2-2 Spurs: One Point Gained Or Two Points Lost?

I miss Ledley. Some games we’re so rampant going forward that he is barely needed at the back, but on days like yesterday we cry out for someone to hold things together and be in the right place – as well as dealing with any aerial bullying meted out by opposition forwards. The lack of a commander-in-chief at the back was notable in the first half in which Spurs players competed earnestly with each other to be the most obliging to our hosts. To a collectively disbelieving shaking of heads amongst the faithful, our heroes stepped aside and ushered in the Bolton players through the gaping holes in defence, then tried all manner of cute passes and dribbles inside their own area.Credit to Bolton, whose play (slick on the floor as well as threatening in the air) probably merited more than their one first half goal, but our lot merrily shooting round after round at their own feet really didn’t help. One first half moment in particular sent an involuntary shiver down the spine, as Bolton’s Gardner skipped his way towards our goal, while Jenas, Kranjcar and even Palacios made such dainty, half-hearted challenges that Tinkerbell herself would have blushed. For an elongated spell in the first half it looked like a return to the not-so-distant days of Francis, Gross et al, as we switched from four-four-two to sixes and sevens, with a powder-puff midfield in front of an uncertain defence, and everyone working assiduously to throw in unforced errors whenever possible.

We really ought to have been spanked out of sight by half-time, but somehow went in level. It may have been wildly against the run of play, but it was a dapper goal when it came, Kranjcar showing good technique with the finish. Thereafter I expected us to win it. While it would be an exaggeration to describe the game as one of two halves, we were certainly much improved going forward after the interval, albeit still an accident waiting to happen at the back. We made the best of the chances in the second half but it was one of those days when every attack launched by either side looked like it might result in a goal.

”Not One Of His Better Days…” 

Nobody covered themselves in glory, but Assou-Ekotto was guilty of a particularly egregious mistake for the second Bolton goal, attempting to clear the danger through the dubious medium of psychokinesis, rather than the infinitely more reliable method of charging to the ball and thumping it clear. Davies duly shoved him out of the way and we were losing again.

Crouch had a couple of glorious late chances, one in particular where he brought the ball down, took a touch, took another touch, made a cup of team and pored over a crossword before eventually shooting wide. The sight of Hudd looking to dictate play from central defence is always encouraging, vastly preferable to the aimless thwack favoured by most other centre-backs, but he still does not fill me with confidence as a centre-back, while Bassong was caught daydreaming more than once.

And The Positives 

 

Glenn Hoddle is the latest Spurs great to be featured in the forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, and you are invited to share your memories of him here. As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the featured players: Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here

All Action, No Plot © 2011. Theme Squared created by Rodrigo Ghedin.