Spurs match reports

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

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

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

Defoe – Accurate

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

Life Without Lennon

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

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

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

Boxes Ticked 

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


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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

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

Spurs transfers

Kranjcar to Spurs – A Triffic Transfer

I feel like Mr Pink after the dust settles in that brief, but oh-so-memorable shoot-out. I’ll just tip-toe around the bloody mess, pick up the case full of loot and hot-foot it out of here.The bloody mess is Bentley to Man City, Petrov the other way, David James splattered all over the place, and even Anton Ferdinand, sitting lifelessly on a chair minus an ear. Transfer rumours shot to pieces, in the blink of an eye.

The case full of loot is Niko Kranjcar. Okay, maybe not a case full of loot, but it’s the first time the club has really personally apologized to me for selling Steed. I graciously accept the apology. It’s not perfect, but it’s a valid offering of peace.

I quite like Kranjcar, from the bits and bobs I’ve seen over the years. He’s not amazing, but he’ll do his best to fill the gap left by Luka, and thereafter he’ll be a cracking option in the squad. Instinct is to go forward rather than back or sideways (sounds logical, but remember ye Jermaine Jenas?); more of a

bona fide left-side man than Keane; eye for goal; cheap and cheerful. That’s a lot of boxes ticked. Triffic signing.Pardon me while I indulge in a personal whim, but I particularly like the fact that he isn’t a traditional, touchline-hugging winger. It’s just a little guilty pleasure of mine, but I much prefer “wingers” who cut inside and play a short ball on the floor. Before you know it the whole pitch seems to be alive with movement. Everyone is making cute little diagonal runs, interchanging positions, giving defenders ten things to think about all at once.

I probably ought to confess that I’m no I’m no Kranjcar expert, so feel free to storm in here, thump an irate fist down on my table and start righting wrongs I’ve just written, but the occasional MoTD highlights of him pleaseth me.

Truth be told, I’m also rather glad that we didn’t sell Bentley and didn’t buy James. (I have no opinion on Petrov). However, there remains an itch, mid-way down the back that is impossible to scratch, and it will continue to bug me for months on end. If something happens to Palacios we’re in trouble. All other eventualities we will cope with somehow, but Palacios is the cornerstone of this operation. ‘Arry has made all the right moves in the transfer market so far – not least in signing Palacios in the first place, and even in bringing in Chimbonda at a time when a real defensive crisis threatened – so I’ll just tell myself that he does have a plan for life without Wilson…


The invitation is still open to share your memories of White Hart Lane legends, in anticipation of Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book that rather does what it says on the tin. Feel free to add your memories of Jimmy Greaves here, of Jurgen Klinsmann here and Clive Allen here

Spurs rants

Modric, Palacios, Jenas, Hudd – The Midfield Conundrum

There’s a great big Uefa Cup-shaped hole in my life at the moment. Instead of working myself into a frenzy of midweek worry, pessimism and nerves, I’ve been at a loss for something to stimulate the usual heart palpitations. Had to resort to half-heartedly watching Liverpool in the Champions League, throwing stones at small garden animals and generally twiddling my thumbs.Listening to England’s heroic failure in the Test Match served as a gentle reminder of the life of a Spurs fan, but generally this cold-turkey approach to the lack of Uefa Cup has not been a bundle of fun. However, I have endeavoured to use the time constructively. With no cup games, midweek distractions or ineligibility mazes to navigate we have the opportunity to settle upon fairly consistent team selection over the remaining ten games in the season. The permutations in defence remain numerous, but something approaching repetition has occurred across the middle, with Lennon on the right and Modric wide left, flanking Jenas and Palacios in the centre.

The Midfield Conundrum 

First things first – no-one in their right mind would question the eligibility of Palacios for a central midfield berth. Not to put any pressure on the lad, but if I ever bump into him I’ll pull out a pen-knife and scratch the words “our saviour” all over his face, but backwards, so that he’ll be reminded every time he looks into a mirror.

With that out of the way I turn to Jenas. Is this really the man we ideally want complementing Palacios? He has the appropriate attacking mentality to go alongside Palacios – far better him than, say, do-do-do-Didier. However, to put it diplomatically, he has not exactly made mind-bogglingly stunning progress since his emergence as a precocious under-21 starlet all those years back. (There, I did it – a full sentence about Jermaine Jenas without any hint of rage or vitriol. I demand a gold star).

More pointedly, deploying Jenas in the centre shunts Modders out to the left, where his impact is undoubtedly diminished. In the grossest practical terms, he’s got less pitch to play on when assigned to the wing. He may weigh less than his own shadow, but the guy is patently a class above the rest. Give him a central role, the freedom of the pitch, the freedom of North London. Our team ought to be built around him.

A Modric-Palacios centre would therefore leave us needing someone on the left. I’ll resist the urge to grumble about the sale of Steed, dagnabbit, and instead examine those who are still keeping the bench warm at the Lane. Brylcreem Bentley, Three-Touch O’ Hara, the genetic experiment that is Bale – even Jenas himself… Personally however I’d give young Giovani a run of games and see what he’s made of, but I get the impression that ‘Arry would rather organise six fixtures a day for the rest of the year than let Giovani establish himself.

Scarily, if no solution is decided upon, by default we’ll end up with One-Trick Downing this summer, fro around £13.9 million more than he’s worth. For that we could buy back several Steeds, or, dreamily, maybe even pinch Joe Cole.

Hypotheticals aside, the question from now until the end of the season revolves around what is preferable – Palacios-Modric in the centre, and A.N. Other wide left; or Palacios-Jenas in the centre and Modric wide left? I vote for the former.

Where Does This Leave Hudd? 

I fall into the latter camp, regrettably so as I have minimal patience with fat people (JUST EAT LESS). When he first emerged I had Hudd down as Carrick Mark II, a player who could feint his way out of trouble with a dip of the shoulder, pick passes dripping in gold and strike a shot with the force of an exocet missile. Far too often however, his passes go astray, although a healthy portion of blame here should go to team-mates’ lack of movement.

Still, the frustration remains. He’s not a tackler, runner or dribbler, and does not have the energy to compensate for mistakes. He most certainly has the capacity to boss games, but too often this only seems to happen when  we’re already two goals up (whereas, for example, Modric seems to dictate games far more regularly). Hoddle or Ginola may have been deemed by many to be luxury players, but they were regularly genuine match-winners too. How often have we said this of Hudd? How often are we likely to say this of Hudd, particularly in the bigger games?

Strange how I have found myself mulling this point because of the absence of European football – the precise stage upon which I reckon Hudd is best suited. Lovely bit of irony with which to wrap up. Tally-ho.

Spurs match reports

Sunderland 1-1 Spurs: Unknown Territory

Confusion reigns amongst the great and good of Tottenham after yesterday’s draw, with no-one quite sure how to react. Typically, reactions at the Lane must be of massively unrealistic expectation or miserable pessimism and criticism, as previously articulated. There is never any middle ground.The draw at Sunderland has therefore baffled everyone.  A one-one draw, in a gentle, early-March, mid-table encounter simply does not incite any passion. It leaves us 5 points off both relegation and Europe. Neither here nor there. Confused middle-aged men have been forced to stifle their foul-mouthed tirades, because it really wasn’t such a bad result. Earnestly schoolboys have opted against delivering their deluded predictions of glory, because a serene draw with Sunderland does little to suggest we’ve evolved into world-beaters. Instead, worried children turn beseechingly to their parents for guidance, for there is no obvious wild over-reaction to give to yesterday’s result. This is unknown territory for a Spurs fan.

I’m as clueless as everyone else. I have season tickets on both the We’re-Doomed and the We’ve-Turned-The-Corner bandwagons, and am happy to alight one and hop onto the other with shameless fickleness. This time though I find myself stranded, in the middle of the road. On days like this it does not even feel right to lay into Jenas.

Whatever the expectations prior to kick-off, the team deserves credit for salvaging a draw away from home, having conceded such an early goal. The frustrating use of Modric on the left continued, with the presence of Steed in the opposition ranks heightening the irritation. Aaron Lennon maintained his record of drawing a yellow card from his opposing left-back, without producing any final product of particular menace. The incongruous combination of the lumbering Corluka and the fleet-footed Lennon on the right has me eagerly checking Alan Hutton’s rehabilitation programme. Gomes invoked the ghost of autumn 2008 with a good old-fashioned flap. Keane’s second goal in a week  continues to eradicate memories of that whole Merseyside foray, while dredging up again the issue of how he and Defoe will fit together.

Interesting to observe that so much of Sunderland’s creativity emanated from ex-lilywhites Steed Malbranque and the rotund Andy Reid, who appeared to have ambled onto the pitch directly from his seat at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In fact, Andy Reid struck me as what would happen if Steed ate someone whole. Kenwyne Jones, a Tottenham target past and, presumably, future was solid, aerially adept and generally unspectacular. In fact the whole game was rather unspectacular, but nevertheless left us all with smiles on our faces, the last-minute equaliser naturally feeling loosely like a victory.

In keeping with the peculiar gentleness of yesterday’s game, there now follows a brief lull until our next fixture. No midweek cup games, no ineligible players, no moaning from ‘Arry about how unfair it all is (although one suspects he’ll find a way). Ten games left, and with it still not obvious whether we’re moving into a European chase or relegation fight, the season continues to simmer away nicely.

Spurs preview

Sunderland – Spurs Preview: Not Good Enough for MoTD

A bit of a bonus game this. Somehow, amidst the hurly-burly of all those cup excursions, we’ve earned ourselves a game in hand – and the opportunity to haemorrhage blood from the nose by hitting the dizzy heights of tenth, within five points of West Ham in the likely Uefa spot of seventh. Even more excitingly, with ours being the only Premiership fixture tomorrow, does this mean that we get an entire Match of the Day to ourselves? Crumbs, they can show the entire game! Sunderland-Spurs would normally be tossed out to Tony Gubba to paint a tedious shade of grey, but if we’re the only game we’ll get the brilliant Steve Wilson, and his impeccable combo of excitement and reason!Alas, it’s not to be. They’re not giving us Steve Wilson. They’re not even giving us Gubba. There will be no MoTD at all this Saturday. They don’t deem our game sufficient to keep the programme on air this week. The ignominy.

More mundanely, the match itself – nigh on impossible to predict. This season, and indeed just the last few weeks, has seen on display every one of the multiple personalities of that strange schizophrenic beast that is Tottenham Hotspur 2008-09. Woeful defeats to Burnley and Shakhtar; creditable draws against l’Arse and Man Utd; impressive wins against Stoke, Hull and Boro. Gazing into my crystal ball the only words that appear are “”.

The trip to the north-east will throw up some friends past, present and quite possibly future. I personally vetoed the summer sale of Steed, but unbelievably it went ahead anyway, and he might well offer a pointed reminder of what we’re lacking on the left. Teemu Tainio I expect to make less of an impact, if he’s even fit, while Chimbonda is unlikely to be the most popular man in the stadium come kick-off. Nothing new there, then. The most interesting sub-plot will be about eight foot ten and playing up-front for Sunderland. A good chance for all of us to get 90 minutes of Kenwyne Jones and make some snap-judgements about whether he’ll be worth the £14 million odd we’ll probably bid for him in the summer. Don’t’ strive too hard to impress us, will you Kenwyne?

And Now For Something Completely Different… 

Little Miss Ronaldo (to Taylor): “You’re rubbish.”
[Pretty subjective, but if anyone is entitled to make that call it’s probably the World Football of the Year]

Taylor: “Yeah? Well you’re ugly.”
[Genius! Talk about touching a nerve. Take a bow son]

Little Miss Ronaldo: “You’re still rubbish.”

Taylor: “And you’re still ugly.”

Impossible to read that without smiling. I can’t help thinking Ronaldo went home and cried all night into his pillow after that. Heart-warming stuff.