Spurs transfers

Spurs’ Transfer Window Doings Get The Thumbs Up

Believe it or not, back at the start of the transfer window most of the talk at the Lane was whether or not Stewart One-Trick Downing would dip his right shoulder, dart out to the left and pitch up in N17. Seems an age ago now, n’est-ce pas? And who would have possibly imagined back then, as we mixed over-strengthed home-made cocktails on 31 December 2008, that the mid-winter spending spree would end with Defoe, Keane and Chimbonda back in lilywhite? AANP peers back through the January transfer window and tries to make sense of the madness.Players In 

Pascal Chimbonda: Villainous human being, but versatile defender of good quality. Smart thinking, ‘Arry.

Wilson Palacios: Who knows? Haven’t seen enough of him to give an opinion, but hearsay suggests that this is a midfielder who can pass and tackle, pure and simple. As such, he ought to be the best thing since sliced bread, although on reflection, sliced bread really ain’t so special, presuming you possess your own knife. I digress. If the hype is true, Palacios will be our most important signing in years.

Jermain Defoe: Might not be the complete all-round striker, but by golly he can shoot – on target and with venom in his ickle size sixes. We need goals, he scores goals, value for money, QED. (see

Robbie Keane: Controversial. In purely footballing terms he’s a good buy – but it’s so much more than a purely footballing buy with Keane (see

Players out:

Hossam Ghaly: Probably in everyone’s best interests. We may be childish to hold a grudge for so long, but at least we can’t be accused of fickleness with this one. Unlikely ever to be re-signed.

Paul Stalteri: Served his purpose as a propaganda tool for ‘Arry, who gave him a squad number to show what a motivator he is, then never played him and sold him at the first opportunity.

Cesar Sanchez: Aka “that Spanish goalkeeper”. Might be world class for all we know, but I get the impression ‘Arry would have played Aaron Lennon in goal before picking this chap. He rather sums up the Wendy Ramos reign.

Still at the Lane… Just: Giovanni dos Santos: Alright, he’s only played about 5 minutes of football for us, but it would have been a mighty disappointment had his transfer to Pompey gone through. He’s young enough to improve, he presumably has flair (having come from some Spanish outfit called Barca), injuries have deprived him of a chance to prove himself and he’s supposedly a left-sided attacker. Commons sense suggests he needs another year to bed in and show what he’s about – so we can expect him to be jettisoned straight away in the summer.

Aaron Lennon: Ooh, I’d have caught a small tropical bird and strangled it if we’d traded off Lennon to Liverpool in a swap for Keane, as mooted in some circles. He may never be the player his promise suggests he ought to become, but he’s undoubtedly been one of our best in this season of general mediocrity.

Jermaine Jenas: Hilarious rumours of a move to Inter collapsed when it emerged that the basis for the story was that Jose Mourinho had picked him in his fantasy league team back in the summer. It makes much more sense.

David Bentley and his hair: Seems we can’t go selling off all the mirrors in the changing room just yet. Bentley was reportedly being offered as a slab of meat in any one of a number of deals (Keane, Jones, Downing) but with a loving flick of his fringe he’ll remain at the Lane for several months yet. His attitude has improved this month, it would be nice to see his form pick up proportionally.

Darren Bent: Despite his two-goal salvo at the weekend, despite the injury to Defoe, despite ‘Arry’s protestations that really he rated him all along , the feeling nevertheless persists that poor old Bent will be out the door first decent offer we get. That charming combination of an earnest, well-meaning attitude combined with chronic and almost comical displays of inability have started to remind me of Fawlty Towers’ Manuel.

Missed Targets 

Stewart One-Trick Downing: Was within a whisker of becoming ‘Arry’s first signing. His supporters claim he would give the side natural balance; his detractors – including yours truly – claim that he’s just not particularly good, and certainly not £15 mil worth of good.

Kenwyne Jones: Still yet to see him play (beyond MOTD highlights) but in theory he would have been a good idea, being a striker with a bit of physical presence. Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia became so flustered he threatened to start crying and tell his Mum if we continued to pursue him, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this story re-emerge in the summer.

Stephen Appiah: Did I imagine all this? Does the guy even exist? Newspapers, magazines, websites and flies on walls were unanimous in claiming that Appiah was having trial after trial with us throughout January – yet deadline day came and went, and there was no news on the chap. Not a murmur. A bit like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects – supposedly a bit important, but no-one’s seen him, no-one knows where he is, and like that… he’s gone.

Quaresma: Might have offered balance on the left, might have proved too much of a big girl’s blouse for the Premiership. Either way, he’s at Chelski now so we can all hate him.

The AANP Verdict 

In the style of Joaquim Phoenix’s character in Gladiator, on careful consideration I give this transfer window a thumbs up. Cudicini, Chimbonda, Defoe and (just about) Keane each represent good bits of business on their own criteria; while the failure to buy Downing strikes me as a lucky escape, and the retention of Giovanni (albeit by accident rather than design) pleases me. Having initially moaned about how difficult it is to buy decent players in January, it doesn’t surprise me that ‘Arry ended up splashing out the annual GDP of a small, third-world country, but I’m breathing a little more easily now than I was a month ago.

Spurs preview

Spurs – Burnely preview: What an Opportunity

What an opportunity this is. While pundits, players and ‘Arry will trot out one cliché after another about the risks of playing a rubbish team in a cup blah blah blah, there’s no escaping the fact that Burnley over two legs is a glorious opportunity for us to get to Wembley. Yes, they knocked out Chelski and l’Arse (kids) en route to this semi; and yes, we’re an underperforming outfit these days. Nevertheless, this is a team in the division below us. Moreover, should we have a bad day, or should they produce a particularly inspired performance, we have a safety net by virtue of the fact that this is a two-legged tie. Even at my most pessimistic I can’t see us messing this up, not over two legs.Defoe is to be paraded before kick-off, like some sort of circus attraction, which ought to whip the crowd into a frenzy. I’m also confident that this spirit of goodwill will give birth to a ripple of applause when the dastardly Hossam Ghaly’s name is read out, which ought to be sufficient to drown out the odd isolated boo. If we get a goal in the first 30 mins the roof will come off (I know, I know – there is no roof) and we’ll produce a breathtaking, all-action-no-plot display to give us a six-goal cushion for the second leg (or, more realistically, both crowd and players will settle back into a dangerous level of complacency which we’ll come to regret in the return leg in a fortnight’s time). Either way, I’m confident we can put the tie beyond doubt tonight, especially if Burnley commit men forward in search of an away goal.

Team news is that Assou-Ekotto and his blank stare and mentalist afro is suspended, as is Jenas. I can think of worse news in the build-up to a game. More worryingly, Ledley is stuck together with safety pins and sellotape again, but Dawson has rediscovered his form in recent weeks, and Woodgate completes a sturdy looking centre-back pair, while Gomes is in tip-top form in goal. The absence of Bent leaves us with limited striking options, but with Modric and Lennon looking dangerous we’ve got goals in us.

A little depressingly, this is the highlight of our season, and as such I expect a very strong performance – and hopefully something like a two-goal win. Or is that too optimistic?

Spurs news, rants

Hossam Ghaly – Burying the Hatchet

Forgive and forget – that’s the new motto at Spurs as injuries and suspensions leave ‘Arry with little choice but to draft the dastardly Hossam Ghaly back into the squad.


I have to confess that I didn’t actually boo Ghaly when he prepared to come on vs Wigan. This is primarily because I wasn’t even at the ground. However, as I listened to the jeers on the radio, I nodded my head in agreement, and as such I’m guilty by all-action-no-plot association. Mea culpa, folks.I’ve never really been one to boo my own player. I’m happy enough to dish it out to an opponent, in panto-villain style (Berba, take a bow son), and I guess I’ll boo the entire team off the pitch if they’ve been useless. I’ve sure as hell flung up my hands in exasperation and turned the air purple as the likes of Jenas and Doherty have repeatedly conceded possession and missed from inside the six-yard box. This however, merely confirms that I am a Spurs fan and I have a pulse.

If I were a player myself I’d be chuffed to hear the fans sing my name, a little nonplussed to hear the fans sing their hatred of a different team and pretty darn annoyed to hear a team-mate getting booed by his own. With a big cup game tonight, and whole-hearted support needed a la Seville 2007, the moral of the story, kids, is clear: let’s not boo Ghaly any more.

That said, I’m hardly about to roll out the red carpet for the lad. Aright, the whole episode was 18 months ago or more, and nobody died. However, in these days of minimal loyalty and over-paid players, I don’t think it’s asking too much for 90 minutes worth of effort and respect towards the fans. Ghaly certainly forgot about the latter during his strop, in front of thousands of people who shell out a hefty amount each week for the club. He’s made the right noises with his apologies, and hopefully he’ll put in some good performances for us – but does anyone really think he cares about Spurs?

I’ll politely applaud his name tonight, I won’t give him stick – or nod approvingly if others do so – but if he expects a hearty pat on the back and songs in his honour he can go buy a hat and eat it. No chance, sonny-jimbo. I’m just doing this for the good of the team. (No doubt the lad will be mortified to read this. That’ll learn him).

Spurs match reports

Spurs 3-1 Wigan: More jeers for Ghaly, Cheers for 4-4-2

Football fans are often accused of fickleness, but there is a rather unfortunate consistency about our treatment of Hossam Ghaly.

It is well over a year since he pulled off his Spurs shirt and flung it on the ground, incurring the wrath of fans throughout the stadium and beyond. Yesterday, as he readied himself for his first substitute appearance since, the N17 regulars began spitting feathers at the sight, and ‘Arry thought better of it. It appears that young Ghaly may have played his last game for Spurs. 


I’d imagine that there was nothing malicious in Ghaly’s act of throwing away the shirt. Bear in mind that he had just suffered the ignominy of being substituted having only himself entered the fray as a substitute. He must therefore have been most irked at life in general and his manager – Martin Jol (blessed be his name) – in particular. In front of 36,000 people, that’s pretty humiliating.Oh, that he had instead vented his displeasure by grinding his teeth, or kicking a water bottle, or burning a small annoying child. We’d have understood that, maybe even sympathised and surely moved on.
But pulling off the legendary lilywhite shirt and tossing it to the dirt, proud cockerel and all, could diplomatically be described as an ill-advised move. In an age in which fans pay astronomical prices for their 90 minutes of torture, and in which working-class supporters  feel increasingly distanced from the multi-millionaire prima donnas who take to the pitch, the lack of regard for the badge, the very identity of the club, was a pretty poorly-constructed plan of action from one of the players. 
Understandably, many will regard the booing of fans over a year later, as a childish over-reaction. Fair point. But offensive it ain’t. It’s an expression of disapproval, to which, I think, fans are entitled.

Having spent every spare minute of his press conferences over Christmas twitching and complaining about the size of his squad, ‘Arry will now presumably have to do without Ghaly. I can’t really say that my heart bleeds for the player – he presumably feels hard done-by, but the oodles of cash pouring in every week will soften the blow, my sympathy dwindling in direct proportion. If he wants a sympathetic ear, he should pop down to the south coast and have a nice warm cuppa with one Sulzeer Campbell esquire.

More tactically…

 Every time ‘Arry’s played 4-5-1 I’ve bemoaned the lack of support for the lone striker. Yesterday it was 4-4-2, and he entrusted holding duties to Zokora alone, with Modric the attacking half a central midfield pair. Now a slightly cumbersome win against a second-string Wigan team will have very few (outside All-Action-No-Plot Towers) singing from the rooftops, but I’m much encouraged.

Whether or not Zokora and Modric are a sufficiently strong central pairing to cut it in the Premiership is an entirely different kettle of fish, and frankly I suspect they’re not. Still, the tweaked formation, and its success, give ‘Arry food for thought.

Not too pleased about the emergence of yet another alice-band in the ranks though. Lose it, Luka.