Spurs match reports

Spurs 4-0 Young Boys: Bring On The Big Boys

Well the prophets of doom can stick that in their pipes and smoke it. Admittedly it was not exactly vintage, one-touch, rapier-like Tottenham, but then that was understandable enough – in defence of our heroes, I think if I had simply to catch a bus for £20 million I might be a little more cautious than normal. Still, while it may have lacked panache in places the performance oozed professionalism, efficiency and good old-fashioned, red-blooded desire from the off.  Only one Spurs team in history has competed in Europe’s elite club competition before this season, so our heroes deserve all the accolades heaped upon them, both for last season’s efforts and the thorough negotiation of last night’s potential banana-skin.


There are a handful of phrases by which we live here at AANP Towers. You know the sort, essential pearls of wisdom fashioned by time itself.  “Women – can’t live with them, can’t kill them,” and suchlike, but another such bon mot is “By jiminy, thank goodness for that early goal, ought to steady the nerves, what? (Let’s hope we don’t now sit back and invite trouble)”. And lo and behold, when Bale lobbed one in, Crouch stooped, we had ourselves the early goal and all was right with the world. I’ll never know, but I often stroke the whiskers in contemplation of what it would be like to be a good citizen of Tottenham, idly minding his own fare and wandering along the High Road at the exact moment that a goal of such magnitude is scored, and it sounds for all intents and purposes like the sky is collapsing in on itself. The perfect start, at which instant White Hart Lane became so excited it pretty much went ‘bang’ in a puff of smoke.


Life Minus Modders


Back on the green stuff (au naturale, rather than the dastardly tenth-generation macrofibres, or whatever the deuces they used out in the Wankdorf Stadium) we controlled the game in a very careful fashion. To his credit, from first whistle to last Sergeant Wilson bore his fangs like an illegally-bred fighting mutt, and this midfield bite was welcome, our heroes following his lead and pressing the Young Boys (if you pardon the phrase) high up the pitch. However, the deficiency of a midfield bereft of Modders was evident. Hudd’s passing, long and short, is joyous to behold, but neither he nor Palacios are the type to run with the ball from the centre. As a result there was a slight dearth of central creativity, and several symptoms of Crouch-itis in the team, as a number of long-balls were launched up to the gangly one (although he did a topping job of shielding the thing like a new-born babe while it was conveyed from heavens to turf), while the heart always thumps upwards against the mouth around these parts when we play those square balls across that 10-yard space just in front of our back-four. This, however, is somewhat hypercritical, for in truth, in the game of their lives our heroes were barely threatened.


Young Boys for their part adopted some curious tactics – leaving the 6’ 7” striker unmarked at corners, time-wasting when trailing 2-0, etc. I was going to commend their right-back for doing a generally sound job on Bale, in not allowing the handsome young Welshman unrestricted access throughout to the yawning wide expanses of greenery in that particular corner of the Lane – until it dawned on me that His Royal Baleness actually provided the assists for all four goals, and got the right-back sent off. And that on what, for Bale, was a relatively quiet day. For all their attacking prowess last week, Young Boys, even when 3-0 up, looked porous at the back last week, and having excelled themselves on home turf they were no match for us this time. Pot Three awaits.




For a start, I lost my delightful, gleaming Tottenham Hotspur flag within about 30 seconds of kick-off, trampled into the dirt several rows in front of me. Of arguably equal importance on such a momentous night, Gomes hobbled off halfway through. Some need to be mown down by an Uzi before signalling for treatment; our loveable net-minder is not of that near-invincible breed. Should a butterfly sneeze in his direction Gomes signals to the bench for Florence Nightingale and 24-hour care, so when he winced and limped his way to the dressing-room at half-time I raised an eyebrow in scepticism. Time shall tell I guess, but back in the day I suspect that Gomes had a leading – and non-lupine – role in his school production of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.


Also disappointed in the boy Defoe. Bluntly, he cheated. Admittedly he had the good grace to look long, hard and incredulously at each of the numerous officials before celebrating, but I don’t like to see Spurs players deliberately breaking the rules to gain an advantage. Mind you, his curious natterings about “destiny” beforehand now seem to make a bit more sense.


However, irrespective of the officials’ call, his finish was classic Defoe. If he does require surgery, it will do him the world of good to have such a clinical finish under his belt while he twiddles his thumbs and heals.


Elsewhere On The Pitch


After last week Young Boys evidently thought that BAE was the susceptible heel within our mighty Achilles, but the headbanded one brought his A-game and did not allow them a sniff. Dawson also banished the memories of last week with an imperious display, while Hudd purred his way through the game.


Que Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be Will Be


And so to the future. ‘Arry has hinted that he has no intention of dipping into his humungous new transfer kitty, but I have my fingers firmly crossed that this is fabrication of the highest order. Now that our participation is guaranteed we are running a Mission Impossible-esque race against the clock before the transfer window is closed, bolted and has curtains pulled across it for good measure. With Gallas on board I’m not sure a centre-back is still a priority, but a top-notch striker, capable of leading the line in vacuo would be mighty handy.


The draw for the much-vaunted Group Stages also awaits, and for some reason our non-existent Champions League pedigree lands us in the third of four pots. So be it. Some are hoping to avoid the big guns and thereby ease our passage to the next phase, but here at AANP Towers we are fervently beseeching the clueless UEFA suits to hand us the cream of Europe so that we can welcome to the Lane the finest kickers of a pig’s bladder currently roving the planet. Any one or two from Barca, Milan, Inter or Real would be just dandy. Because that is the company we can now keep.

Spurs preview

Spurs – Young Boys Preview: A Glory Glory Night At The Lane?

Audere est Facere? Tonight it’s Aut Vincere Aut Mori – kill or be killed. Do or die. Damn well strain every sinew on pitch, while we scream ourselves hoarse in the stands, and keep it going until we’re in the Champions League group stages.


The rabbit-in-headlights approach of the first leg was vaguely understandable, but as every other game we play these days seems to be the biggest in our recent history, there should be no stage-fright this time. No dodgy surface either. Tonight, instead, we’ve got the pristine White Hart Lane carpet, floodlights, the Champions League theme tune and a 36,000-strong choir singing the slow “Oh when the Spurs…”.


For all the time I spent patiently trying to explain the permutations to my female colleagues last week in the aftermath of the first leg, the nub of the matter is that just about any win will do. Admittedly we are the sort of team uniquely capable of winning 4-3 and thereby knocking ourselves out, but broadly speaking victory will suffice. And while the complete disintegration of order, game-plan and sanity in the first 30 minutes last week was a tad difficult to stomach, I’m secretly actually happier knowing that our lot have to go out there and attack, rather than, say, try to protect a one-goal lead for 90 minutes. Remember ye the 5-1 thrashing of l’Arse, when we went into the game facing a 2-1 deficit, psyched ourselves appropriately, scored after 2 minutes and didn’t let up thereafter.


’Arry’s seems to have the right idea. Castigated in some quarters for an over-adventurous mentality in the first leg, there is no point in sitting back this time, so his tag-line tonight is the rather exciting “Swarm all over them”. The absence of Modders does not exactly aid the cause, while my admittedly sparse medical knowledge has me querying the wisdom of sanctioning Defoe’s involvement when he is apparently in need of groin surgery. Nevertheless, we should have plenty at our disposal. Ye gods be praised for the return of Ledley at the back, while we look like scoring every time Bale touches the ball, and Pav demonstrated last week the value at this level of a striker with a touch of class, even on an off-day. Add to that the return from injury of Keane and Giovani, the fact that Lennon makes his CL debut and an already promising start to the season from Hudd, and we have ourselves an impressive cast-list. I fret a little that the absence of Modders may mean that Sergeant Wilson starts, but given the need for goals I suspect ‘Arry will look elsewhere – to Kranjcar perhaps, or maybe even Jenas (if it came to it I think I would prefer an immobile Modric to a fully-fit Jenas, but it’s ‘Arry’s call).


So how are your nerves? I presume I’m in a minority of approximately one, but in all honesty I’ve rarely felt as confident about a Spurs game. We’ve spent the last 12 months playing some fantastic football, particularly at home: do it again tonight and we will be fine. Admittedly the colour will drain from my face if we go into the final 15 with a 2-1 lead, but things really are set up frightfully well for us. Young Boys had a glorious opportunity to put us out of sight last week and blew it; while it is scarcely conceivable that our mob could play as badly. As mentioned above, even the one goal deficit at kick-off ought to work in our favour, in terms of our mentality.


Just the thought of hearing the Champions League theme tune five minutes before kick-off has me in goosebumps. I know it’s almost a legal requirement at this stage to be practically paralytic with nerves, but I can’t wait for this, potentially a real glory glory night at the Lane.

Spurs match reports

Young Boys 3-2 Spurs: History Repeating Itself?

Well first of all, a history lesson: in our first ever European Cup tie, back in 1962, Blanchflower, Mackay et al travelled to Poland to play Gornik, under the auspices of Bill Nick, and promptly found themselves 4-0 down at half-time, before scoring two late goals. Back at the Lane in the return leg we won 8-1… (That and just about everything else in our history can be read about in AANP’s book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, now a tenner on Amazon, ahem).So that, ladies and gents, is the Champions League, Tottenham style. Despite the fact that players, management, fans, pundits and just about anyone remotely connected with the club had spent the entire summer banging on about the Champions League, our lot looked to be taken completely by surprise by the whole experience. Everywhere we looked players were discovering new and exciting forms of ineptitude. Daws and Bassong spent the first half hour diligently practising their Corluka-running impressions, and by half-time had given some near-perfect examples of that running-through-quicksand look. If there is a physical opposite to Velcro, Pav appeared to have wrapped himself in it in the first half, as the ball flew several yards away from him every time he tried to control it. And so on. Giovani looked lively in the opening stages, but the rest of them ought to have worn sixes and sevens on the back of their shirts. Action in places, but not the merest semblance of plot.

And yet, even despite the sudden presence of Larry, Curly and Moe in the Tottenham defence, the feeling around these parts persisted that we would at some point sneak an away goal or two and have plenty to play for in the second leg. From the outset, although our hosts were merrily waltzing through our back line, there were some fairly straightforward indications their own defence was far from watertight, with Giovani and Defoe spurning a couple of early opportunities. A more seasoned CL outfit may well have slammed the door in our faces and lobbed the key into the Rhine; instead, for all the euphoria of their early blitz Young Boys seemed oblivious to the fact that in European competition a miserly defence at home is paramount.

We May Have Ourselves A Scapegoat…

Presumably much will be made of the plastic pitch, but from the comfort of the AANP armchair it is difficult to know quite how great an impact that had. It may have had a psychological effect, or it may have meant that any pass over 20 yards fizzed off the surface and away, but whatever the reason, the introduction of Hudd, and the short passing he brought with him, certainly seemed to aid our recovery. Passes under 10 yards looked like they were easier to control, and for a period either side of half-time the players appeared to warm to the task.

By and large however, they made it look like they were running across a minefield rather than an artificial pitch. Ought not these chaps, whose entire lives have been geared towards mastering the dark arts of a size 5 football, have been capable of adjusting to Astroturf pronto? Perhaps, but AANP is reluctant to chastise our lot on this account until I’ve walked a mile in their astro boots. Moreover, injuries sustained by Defoe and Modders suggests that beneath those artificial fibres lurked some malevolent daemon of terra firma. No doubt our heroes will be a darned sight happier on the green, green grass of home. 

A Word On Our Glorious Leader 

We’ll Be Fine

An inauspicious start then, but better things should await in the second leg. No doubt we rode our luck yesterday, as Young Boys could have hit five or six but for some schoolboy (sorry, couldn’t resist) finishing. Nevertheless with Ledley quite possibly to be restored to offer some almost motherly reassurance and organisation at the back, plus Aaron Lennon waiting in the wings, and Gareth Bale yet to make an impact on the tie, I sense that our opponents have blown a good opportunity to give themselves a much more imposing lead.

So, unusually, panic is nowhere to be seen at AANP Towers. If we hit a level remotely near the standards of last season I back us to cruise through, particularly at a throbbing, floodlit White Hart Lane. It may of course all go pear-shaped again (recall ye our UEFA Quarter Final home leg to Sevilla, a few years back, when after an encouraging 2-1 away leg defeat we cunningly conceded twice in the first ten minutes at the Lane to set ourselves a Herculean task), but I personally draw inspiration from the class of ’62, and their christening of Tottenham’s European adventures with the concession of four first-half goals, before proceeding to a 10-5 aggregate victory. Gifting the opposition an early lead, and generally doing everything in our powers to complicate the uncomplicated is a peculiarly Tottenham trait, as proudly displayed today as five decades ago. One-nil may suffice next week, but I suspect that our lot will find a vastly more complicated means of progressing.

Spurs preview

Young Boys – Spurs Preview: Enjoy The Moment

Ah, Champions League Tuesday. I could get used to this…Admittedly it’s only the qualifier, but this is still Europe’s premier club competition. That music still blares out at the start, and the nifty, starry football logo is still sewn into the shirt sleeves. After all these years of hurt it feels like Moses finally making it to the promised land (if the Israel of biblical times were full of the best footballers in the world, and plastered with obscenely-priced advertising hoardings, and admittedly if Moses hadn’t died just beforehand).

Sunny Optimism 

Team News 

We ought to be quite capable, on paper and indeed on grass (or synthetic fibres, or whatever it is tonight), but with Daws’ shaky England debut last week still fresh in the memory, it seems conceivable that nerves may play a part tonight. Of our current mob Gomes and Crouch have CL experience, most of them toddled off on various UEFA Cup trips in lilywhite a few years back and just about every one of them has played internationally – but this is a different kettle of fish. Still, even if things go a little awry tonight, over two legs we ought to prevail.

Sod The Scoreline – Enjoy The Moment 

While every man and his dog are aware of the importance of begging, stealing or borrowing our way into the lucrative™ group stages, I reckon I could happily die tonight just as soon as I see our lot march out to that Champions League theme tune. Given that we’re not going to win the entire competition (although after reflection last night I reckon we have a better chance of winning the Champs League than the Prem), tonight I plan just to relish the moment. Years and years of false dawns, kamikaze defending, managerial changes and incessant baiting from gooners have all been leading up to this moment. Where Blanchflower, Mackay and Greaves first went, back in the ‘60s, now it’s the turn of Dawson, Bale and Defoe. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.

Spurs news, rants

The Week’s Doings At Tottenham Hotspur…

It’s hardly been the most frenetic week in recent memory, but as the hour-glass gently edges us towards 2010/11, the look-outs atop the parapet of AANP Towers have assembled in the boardroom to deliver their findings on the week’s happenings.Young Boys (Snigger)

It’s the draw that had a nation of headline-writers treading mighty carefully. Whatever fates befall us over the course of the next nine months, we can weigh it up against the good fortune meted out on 6 August 2010, when the Champions League gods decreed in their wisdom that our path to the group stage depended upon conquering these relative minnows of Switzerland. The White Hart Lane dignitaries duly trotted out the usual platitudes (you know the sort of gubbins – “Any team at this level will be difficult” et cetera), while various straight-faced Spurs officials have also been at pains to point out that they beat Fenerbahce in the last round, so let that be a lesson to the lot of us.

The veracity of such points cannot be doubted, but the fact remains that this could have been a jolly sight more difficult. It is a glorious chance, and having beaten Chelski, l’Arse, Liverpool and Man City (home and away) last season, we ought to be capable of steering past this lot over two legs.

Fare Thee Well Adel Taraabt 

One or two may wistfully wonder what might have been, particularly if, say, injuries elsewhere had allowed him a run in the starting line-up à la Pav last season, but we at AANP Towers wish him well with a fairly ambivalent wave. I somehow suspect that in a couple of years time he’ll pop up in the Champions League for someone or other; however, for the time-being it’s the slightly less glamorous headlines generated by a £1 million move to QPR.


Eusebio Cup Champions 2010, Apparently 

‘Twas with a mixture of pleasure and relief that AANP noted young Gareth Bale galloping down the left in precisely the manner with which he ended season 2009-10; while on t’other flank Aaron Lennon was similarly lively. The brow occasionally furrowed at the ease with which Benfica every now and then scythed through our central areas, but we emerged victorious, and picked up a peculiarly shaped ornament at the end of it all, as is our pre-season wont. With Ledley putting in a 45-minute shift slightly closer to home, this week can probably be filed under the heading “Satisfactory”.