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."

Spurs 3-1 Man City: The Incredible Hudd (& Other Superheroes)

Quite the 80th birthday present for AANP Senior. Is there a more joyous sight to behold in nature than a tide of adrenalin-pumped lilywhites pouring forward in wave after wave of irresistible attack at a sun-baked White Hart Lane?  A spritely cheetah catching a young upstart of a gazelle and tearing it to pieces perhaps? That scene in Terminator 2 when Arnie shoots the padlock while riding his bike, then reloads seamlessly by twirling the shotgun around in his hand, and shooting another padlock? All worthy of a moment’s silent admiration, and reason if ever it existed to top up the tumbler with a fresh splash of bourbon in a gesture of unadulterated admiration – but by golly the sight of our heroes simply overwhelming the current champions in that mesmerising final 20 minutes, to the soundtrack of the most remarkable White Hart Lane din, was enough to make me smash a bottle of champagne against the side of the nearest ship, so rip-roaring were the events unfolding.

All of which came about, incredibly enough, after a dispiriting hour in which the dream looked set to die. The willingness of our heroes could not be faulted, but in the early stages ‘twas eerily reminiscent of many a Saturday evening in the nightspots of London, when AANP has attempted to woo the good womenfolk of London by delivering a ten-minute stream of unfunny bluster, before a rival cad strolls by to instantly sweep the young maiden off her feet with little more than an arched eyebrow. Thus was our valiant but slightly desperate gameplan of headless chickenry swiftly punctuated by one effortless flash of genius from Tevez, and lo – we trailed.

The pattern changed little thereafter, our attacking trio of Dempsey, Bale and Sigurdsson conspicuously lacking the nous of a Tevez, while ahead of them Adebayor gave a glimpse of a dystopian future in which teams play without a striker.

AVB’s Moment of Glory

But enter stage left the sort of managerial jiggery-pokery so barnstorming it can shoot pterodactyls out of the sky whilst blindfolded. While here at AANP Towers the suggested solution was nothing more progressive than a plaintive whinge about swapping strikers, AVB turned the universe on its head by switching from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, and unleashing the Hudd. Memories of the introduction of Jamie Redknapp at half-time in the Euro 96 England-Scotland match no doubt came flooding back to the lot of us, as Hudd instantly brought with him the perfect polygamous marriage of calmness, vision, technique and hair, giving us complete control and a nifty selection of dreamy, defence-splitting passes. The lad looked like he owned the ruddy pitch, and with Holtby buzzing around like a demented wasp ahead of him, Bale flicking the ‘Magic ’ switch on his left boot and Defoe showing the sort of bloody-minded eye for goal that Adebayor would not know if it slapped him in the face with a wet fish, all pretty swiftly became right with the world.

This does create a wonderful few conundra for AVB, around whether to select Defoe or Adebayor next up (relatively straightforward methinks); and whether to go with the brand of sorcery that Hudd delivers a little too effortlessly, within a 4-3-3, or the tireless but slightly directionless pirouetting of Parker, in a 4-2-3-1 (perchance more of a poser). These are queries for another day; now is without doubt still the time for making merry and, frankly, rubbing our eyes in disbelief. Where on earth it came from is slightly mystifying, but our heroes have got their groove back, and it was rollicking stuff.

Spurs – Chelsea Preview: No Fate But What We Make…

“The future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now, making up history as we went along. The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can, too.”
Sarah Connor, Terminator 2

 

Rather ironic sentiments from Ms Connor, I’m sure you’ll agree, given that the following two Terminator films were pretty darned awful, and her own character was promptly killed off, but one understands the point, and such buoyant optimism is shared at AANP Towers ahead of kick-off this afternoon.For the first time we go into a Chelski game with the bookies finding it difficult to choose between us (Spurs 7-4, Chelski 6-4). The bookmakers rarely get it wrong, and all things considered this is probably as good as time as there has been in the last ten years or so to play this lot. Drogba is still shaking off the ill-effects of swine-flu or some such pestilential malady, and Chelski have only scored three in their last six games, or something similar. Admittedly we ought not to become too over-excited by this, as the Chelsea Pensioners could probably stick a couple past us in 90 minutes, given our current form, but up the other end their defence has been by no means watertight, even with the dastardly John Terry restored. Our trusty game-plan, of not worrying too much about defence, and simply outscoring whoever trots out in front of us, ought to serve us well today.

The midfield will presumably be where this game is won and lost, and with VDV and Hudd still unavailable much depends on Modders. The clean-shaven Jesus has been in coruscating form, albeit a tad underrated, given the glamorous types hogging the headlines all around him, but with Lampard sitting this one out, the stage is set for Modric to assume control.

There may also be a timely return to action for Dawson, which would help stiffen things up at the back, but such is the way of things at the moment that even pre kick-off I now accept that we will concede at least one. However, with Modders back, Defoe sharp and Bale simply present on the pitch, we will, as ever have goals in us. The last 12 months have been a whole succession of marks of our progress; this afternoon should herald yet another.

Werder Bremen – Spurs Preview: An Awesome 5-A-Side Team

Even observing from across the Atlantic, AANP is well aware of the worrying signs that, for all the cheer and merriment created by our Champions League qualification, our heroes are doing a dashed good impression of a pack of mutts who have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m not quite sure how tiredness can be a factor so early in the season, particularly as many of the players had an international break, but there has been a sluggishness to our recent league form, and the forthcoming glut of CL games is unlikely to freshen up any of our heroes.

Still, we can worry about all that on Saturday. Playing in the Champions League cures all known ills, and there is probably no better way to drag the players out of their stupor than to parade them in the front of the cameras to the soundtrack of the CL theme tune and 36,000 braying lilywhites in the stands.

4-4-1-1 Again. Huzzah!

“Da more I interact with humans, da more I learn.”

So drawled Arnie in Terminator 2, undoubtedly the greatest film ever to grace the AANP Towers cinema reel, and our very own glorious leader is demonstrating a similar capacity to modify his behaviour in reaction to external circumstances. In such a manner was the 4-4-1-1 birthed, and as our heroes will be gambolling across foreign soil today, the designated away formation will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world once again. After Saturday’s periodically abysmal draw at West Brom confidence will be sky high amongst ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums that 4-4-1-1 will make us kings of Europe, and providing that Werder Bremen are no better than the WBA we should be absolutely fine.

Alas, our absentee list would make quite some 5-a-side team, with Gomes, Daws, Defoe and potentially Modders all staring forlornly from the sidelines, but the prospect of Ledley returning to the fold always soothes the savage beasts here at AANP Towers.

The addition of van der Vaart to our ranks reinforces the notion that our side is positively teeming with potential match-winners, and between them I fancy Bale, Kranjcar, Lennon, VDV, Hudd , Pav et al to grab a goal or two. However, this is no ordinary club competition, this is the Champions League – and with such power comes great responsibility, particularly at the back, where dubious defensive lapses will be magnified and punished. A point would represent a fine night’s work – on present form dare we hope for even more?

Spurs 4-0 Bolton: ‘Arry’s Newfangled Concept Works A Treat

It was just like old times, those sepia-tinged, heady days of late-summer 2009, when rubbish teams would traipse up to the Lane and be promptly destroyed, with our heroes requiring nothing beyond second gear. From the outset the only worry last night was that we might fail to turn domination into goals, but merrily this was not to be one of those wretched occasions. A job well done, and without breaking sweat.Madness I Tell Ye

The evening began in thoroughly perplexing fashion, with the announcement that Assou-Ekotto was back in the team as well as the boy Bale. Completely discombobulated, AANP and chums frantically bandied around hypotheses in an effort to get our heads around the madness. Were we about to witness 3-5-2? Or Bale as a left-winger? Or a novel – if highly illegal – use of 12 players from the outset?

As it turned out it was nothing more outlandish than BAE at right-back. Some newfangled concept known as “squad rotation” apparently (it will never catch on). We have perhaps been a little spoiled by the frequent gallops, up the length of the pitch and back, by our handsome young Welshman, and last night was a reminder that the braided one is a little more restrained in his attacking forays, but it was still good to see him back in the fold. His reluctance to bomb on and inability to use his right foot had a rather detrimental effect upon poor old Bentley, who through little fault of his own was rendered fairly ineffective, but as events transpired this was no huge loss.

Pav Still Super

The other notable selection was, of course, Pav up-front. It is perhaps a little premature to laud him to the heavens and name the new stadium after him, but in one and a bit games he has done all that could possibly have been expected of him, and certainly looks sharper in front of goal than Crouch ever did. The AANP jury is out on whether he and Defoe qualify alongside Sheringam-Klinsmann, Greaves-Gilzean and Bert-Ernie in the ranks of The World’s Greatest Ever Double-Acts, but while their partnership is hardly telepathic, it has nevertheless now become difficult to drop either.

Daws And Palacios’ Passing Master-Class

”You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction…” 

As it happened though, the rather glorious exception to this yesterday was Palacios’ hand in the second goal, a delightful pass into the danger-zone. As with Bale in the second half, it is easy to chuckle at the buffoonery of the opposition for scoring own-goals, but let us not overlook the cracking delivery of the passes from Palacios and Bale, into areas against which it is jolly difficult to defend.

The All-Star Hollywood Midfield

Amusingly, ‘Arry came over all Ocean’s Eleven in the second half, and decided to cram as many silky superstars as possible into the team, with complete disregard for such ugly notions as tackle and bite. Thus it transpired that Sergeant Wilson was withdrawn, and we were treated to possibly our prettiest midfield ever, ball-players of the ilk of Modders, Hudd, Kranjcar, Gudjohnsen and Bentley alongside one another. It ought to have made for 20 minutes of the world’s most beautiful football, but by then the game was over and they just went through the motions. Rather a shame actually.

Gudjohnsen

Or Sheringham Mk II, if you prefer. He has no real inclination to go sprinting hither and thither, but with those little flicks and disguised diagonal passes he’s clearly far too laid-back for any such plebeian exertion as running. Not sure how he would cope in the hurly-burly of a high-octane Premiership fight to the death, but as a fourth striker he seems a welcome addition to the squad. He adds something very different; will be of value in games in which our front-men find themselves isolated; is of sufficient quality to give one of the other forwards a breather as fixtures pile up (there’s that crazy “squad rotation” concept once more); and adds some much-needed experience to what is generally a young squad.

Elsewhere On The Pitch

More attacking wondrousness from our Bale, again neatly glossing over his occasional defensive deficiency. Another watertight performance from Gomes. It would be easy to ignore, but he shot-stopped and punched impeccably, and made a particularly smart save at 2-0 just before half-time, which might otherwise have made things jittery. Sergeant Wilson became the first Latin American footballer in history to fail to execute perfectly a back-heel. The boy Rose looked good, if one-footed. And so on; we did the bare minimum, and it was more than enough. Fulham away is not easy, but eminently do-able, and suddenly…

[Shameless plug alert] Victory last night means that we’ll be in the Quarter Finals on Saturday 6th March – and also means that Gary Mabbutt’s signing of

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, that same day in Enfield Waterstones, is brought forward to 12 noon. 

Spurs’ Cult Heroes, will be in shops from 6 March – but is available to pre-order now from Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in 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

Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs: A Better Result For Tottenham Than Last Week?

A better result than last week? Well, no, in a word. As a result, a draw away to Villa is ok on paper, but no reason to go popping corks and lighting Cubans. However, the performance, particularly in the second half, was without doubt one to warm the cockles. If last week was an all guns blazing Terminator 2, this was a well-constructed The Usual Suspects – different genre, but mightily impressive in its own right. 

The nine-goal fest against thoroughly clueless opponents was a fun day out, but there was a nagging worry all week that we’d struggle against a team who did not politely stand aside and usher us through. Such fears appeared to transpire in the first half hour or so, when we were second-best to too many balls – as typified by the Villa goal.Typical Spurs, No Spine, No Fight…

Those who have Spurs down as a soft touch sat back and waited expectantly – only to be stunned by, of all things, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat. Towards half-time, and every moment thereafter, we displayed a character which I had not dared think the players had in them. There before our very disbelieving eyes, sleeves were rolled up and hands dirtied, as our lot hammered away until they got a goal. Then they carried on hammering for good measure, in search of a winner. And all this, recall, not against one of the division’s less potent spoilers, but against our closest challengers for fourth. Crikey.

Feet ought to remain grounded – we did not win, after all, and Villa were curiously negative – but that glorious refusal to go down without a fight ought really to have been played out to a stirring Thomas Arne soundtrack. Fittingly enough Michael Dawson was the hero, thumping in our equaliser before presumably riding home on horseback and in full armour, with a sword in one hand and the severed head of a barbarian in the other.

Kranjcar Fast Becoming An AANP Favourite

 

Kranjcar again was superb, making a mockery of those pointless efforts to shoe-horn Robbie Keane into the left-side role. In the first half the Croat seemed to be at the hub of all that was good, raising the notion that a few weeks down the line, ‘Arry might even be tempted to dabble in a Kranjcar-Modric-Palacios-Lennon midfield. I drool in anticipation. The energy Kranjcar injected gradually spread across the team, and before you could say “We-may-be-one-down-at-Vila-Park-after-half-an-hour-but-by-golly-I-think-we’re getting-on-top-here” they were all at it – movement, patient build-up and the occasional half-chance, hinting at what was to come.I had a rant yesterday about the common Away-Team mentality of sitting back and adopting a safety-first defend-and-nullify mindset. Happily however, anyone in Tottenham ranks who suggested this yesterday was taken out the back and shot, while on the pitch we seized the initiative and pounded relentlessly at the Villa door. Another brownie point can be distributed as appropriate for the fact that there was no panicked resort to a procession of long-balls, despite the presence of Crouch up top. Yes, we did occasionally take the aerial route from deep, but this was mixed up with crosses from the flanks, attempts to pass our way in and thumping long shots.

Encouraging Stuff From Hudd 

Elsewhere on the Pitch 

Lennon was generally shackled by two men throughout, only finding any space in the closing stages – but even when not producing the goods, his presence caused panic in opposition ranks.

Bold Substitutions 

Jenas, to his credit (yes, you read correctly) entered the fray with exactly the right attitude. Previously a man maligned for his willingness to pass backwards if his life depended on going forward, he showed attacking intent every time he received the ball, looking to press forward, either via a pass or dribble, at every opportunity.

In the aftermath of the goal celebrations, ‘Arry resisted any urge to alter the planned substitution, instead ploughing on with the replacement of Kranjcar by Keane, when others may well have paused and thrown on a more defensive player instead. It reminded me of a substitution made by Martin Jol (blessed be his name) many moons back, possibly in his first game in charge in fact, when having trailed 2-0 away to Charlton, we got back to 2-2, before Jol threw on another striker and was rewarded with three points. No three-point haul today, but immense credit to all involved, for the positive mentality adopted.

 

If you like what you’ve read you can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here 

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

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