Due to the horrors of the real world (new flat! new flat!), a near-lethal bout of man-flu and, most pertinently, a mightily ropey wi-fi connection, many of the AANP ramblings of recent weeks have been trapped, like the three evil types inside the glass prison in Superman 2, on a usb stick, unable to make it to the interweb. However, to ease the pain of the international break, this back-catalogue of previews and match reports will now finally see the light of day – which means that you lucky things will be able to relive all the hundred-miles-an-hour excitement of the past three weeks or so! Huzzah!
30/9/2010: Good grief. Even by our own astonishing standards this was fairly madcap stuff. As well as the five goals, three penalties, red card and various refereeing controversies (thought all three were pens myself, but mine is perhaps not the most objective view) this was also the first game I can recall in which a team has won 4-1 while looking throughout like they might just blow it.
You lot of course are well familiar with the all-action-no-plot mentality, and our heroes’ allergy to the dull and boring nil-nil draw, but with THFC circa 2010 now being given the stage of the Champions League it is a rather cheery thought that all across Europe a whole new audience rub their eyes in disbelief at the madness of N17.
Previous CL escapades have seen the sages queuing up to chide ‘Arry for not adopting a conservative approach on our away days, but this time, with home advantage and an urgent need for three points, he went with good old-fashioned, gung-ho 4-4-2. In fact, the carefully thought-out game plan of “attack, attack and bloody well attack some more” saw just about everyone in lilywhite, including Bassong and King, charging forward towards the Twente goal at one point or another.
The task was a lot trickier than might have been envisaged though, our vanquished opponents doing their damnedest to nip in the bud our fluidity. Not sure whether it was a result of this stifling, or a pre-ordained plan, but in the first half in particular young Master Bale appeared to be under orders to hang early, high crosses up in the area for Crouch to gorge upon. Not really an approach of which I’m particularly enamoured, but it brought about both the missed penalty and our opening goal, so I guess I ought keep quiet and be grateful for what we have.
If there was an occasional, unedifying tendency to sling high balls Crouch-wards in the first hour or so, I can only stand back and applaud the manner in which we adapted after VDV’s red card and the subsequent withdrawal of Crouch. The prospect of seeing out half an hour a man down – our finest man at that – with a narrow (2-1) lead, and against feisty opposition, had a whole army of butterflies hurtling around the stomach, but by golly our heroes did a grand job. The absence of Crouch removed the urge to go long, and instead, with a maturity I had dared not dream they possessed, our lot played keep-ball, looking for all the world like they were a man up rather than down. Hudd positively revelled in the situation, demanding the responsibility of string-puller-in-chief, and prompting a surge of paternal pride at AANP Towers, where we recalled with misty eyes those days of yore when we flung up our hands, called him fat and despaired that he would never make the grade.
It should probably be noted that Hudd can also consider himself a lucky boy for remaining on the pitch, for while I am do not think he actually realised he was about to wallop that blighter in the head, I think it is fair to say that The Flailing Elbow is an art-from rarely looked upon with kindness by officials. His demeanour (“Contorted Rage”), was also rather a picture, and may well be invoked when those heroes in blazers at UEFA mete out their retrospective punishments.
Jekyll, Hyde, All Action, No Plot – Van Der Vaart Had The Whole Blinking Lot
Column inches aplenty for VDV, a player who has taken to the all-action approach like a duck to water. A player of his age and experience ought to have known better than to have gone hurtling in to his yellow card challenges, but it is difficult to begrudge a man who is so determined to be at the hub of activity, and who adds so much quality. His first half volleys were sumptuous, oozing technique, and he then made a difficult goal look fairly straightforward. Lovely to see such difficult skills come so naturally to a player in lilywhite, and heart-warming too that we have in our ranks a midfielder in whom the urge to shoot is always prominent.
Bale: Now Showing Too Much Quality
Bale did what Bale does, after a heart-in-mouth moment in the first half when he appeared to fall victim to an x-rated challenge from the advertising hoardings. Wondrous stuff as always from the handsome young Welshman, except that now every time he gallops 50 yard, roasts half the opposition team and plonks the ball into the net, I glance nervously over my shoulder for the sight of Alex Ferguson marching up the High Road, cheque-book in hand. Someone tell young Gareth to tone done the quality and lie low for a while.
Elsewhere on the Pitch
Gomes’ one-handed save ought not to be overlooked; Modders was mightily effective in a supporting role, keeping things ticking over without ever really dipping into his box of attacking tricks; Ledley, as ever, looked majestic.
Two forthcoming games against Inter, while Twente and Werder Bremen squabble amongst themselves, might tip the group table upside down, but four points from two games, home and away, is the start for which we had all hoped, while the entertainment value has flown right off the scale. Nobody does all action no plot like Tottenham.
Spurs – Twente Preview
29/9/2010: The unspoken agreement in place seems to be that Premiership points can be traded off for rip-snorting Champions League performances. (I call it an “agreement”, but this does rather seem to have been imposed upon us fans by the players, without any option. Such is life). It is therefore time for our heroes to stick to their side of the bargain. If they want to amble around the pitch while Premiership minnows sneak off with the spoils, then they had jolly well better repay us – starting tonight. Insouciantly chucking away the two-goal lead in Bremen was acceptable, because apparently a point away from home in the Champions League is allowed, but any similar nonsense at home tonight would leave us with an awkward few evenings in store.
Last season we set a healthy precedent of turning floodlit games at the Lane into glory glory nights worthy of club shop DVDs, so the template is in place. A high-octane start, an early goal or two, a throbbing Lane audience – we all know the drill. Time for our lot to make names for themselves.