For the World Cup, you understand- not just as means of deporting unwanted stock- before anyone throws Jenas in the hat.
My spidey sense is tingling. Just ninety-nine days until the country’s workforce start thinking seriously about the possibilty of taking a month off work, building a fort in the living room and splurging the joint account on a television big enough to block out the sun. Yes, we’re edging closer, folks. The World Cup is thundering over the horizon like a black rhino on the Serengeti.
But what of our lot? With plenty of English talent knocking about the place these days, any mere mortal would assume that little ol’ Tottenham would have much to say about Capello’s final squad of twenty-three. Crouch did his chances no harm last night with a- let’s face it- game changing shift. Before his raw-boned frame was put in the mix-up, England looked shoddy at best. Our Peter gave them some much needed focus while notching his international scoring record above and beyond the hallowed goal-every-other-game yard stick. He’s in, you would think.
Defoe and Lennon, too, you’d hope. On the back of Walcott’s befuddled offerings- injury permitting- I would suggest they’re both firmly in the Don’s plans.
But what of the rest? Dawson, Woody, King, Huddlestone…Bentley?
I’d take Dawson over Upson or Lescott any day of the week.
But what say you?
If you’re one of the few people who haven’t read All Action, No Plot before, the first port of call is a good dressing down and a ‘where the flip have you been?’ As most of you will testify: I’m no expert, but I know a first-rate blog when I clap eyes on one. And AANP is the cat’s whiskers. Thoughtful, witty, insightful. In short, a consistently good read which probably appears on every ‘Best of the Spurs Blogs’ list out there.
He’s only gone and penned a bloomin’ book.
It’s called Spurs’ Cult Heroes and it goes on sale this weekend from all good outlets:
“Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has been blessed with more than its fair share of wonderful and entertaining players in its long and illustrious history. From goalscorers such as 1901 FA Cup-winning hotshot Sandy Brown through sixties goal-getter supreme Jimmy Greaves to 1990s saviour Jürgen Klinsmann, glamour has always been part of being idolised at Spurs. But so too has being something of a controversial maverick. Fake-boob wearing Gazza was as daft as a brush. The sublimely-skilled Glenn Hoddle was ignored by England, while Argentinean imports Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa both became embroiled in controversy surrounding the Falklands War. “
In Spurs’ Cult Heroes, Michael Lacquiere tells the remarkable tale of the club’s 20 greatest fans’ icons and discovers the true stories about exactly what double-winning Dave Mackay said to Billy Bremner whilst grabbing him round the throat, which legend dented the FA Cup in post-match celebrations, why Gazza once turned up to training plastered in GBP50 notes and whether David Ginola’s acting career was worth it. Not to mention the debate about why hairstyles play such an important part in being adored at Spurs.’’
I can’t yet claim to have glanced at one page of the 220-odd within. But, as a Tottenham fan- alive to the pleasures of reading, if it’s half as good as what comes out of AANP Towers every week, then it’ll be a cracking bit of work. I think I’m right in saying there’re pictures, too.
So probably best to pre-order a copy now.
All the ‘clicky’ vitals are listed below.
Here we go, then, careering into the jaws of March with but a wafer thin mint between us and the chasing pack. We’re clinging on, good people, that’s for sure. With knuckles white as semi-skimmed milk. We’re clinging on.
A titanic win at The Lane on Sunday; the magnitude of which will hopefully become clear at a later date. When the table has a decidedly finished look about it, and we’re perched triumphantly- heads above water- breathing lungfuls of clean, Champions League air. Oh, I bet it tastes good up there.
Let’s be honest, Everton had ‘trouble’ written all over it. And it wasn’t just the testing make-up of the opposition. News of an airborne virus floating about camp days before kick-off had many- including myself- in a state of panic. I imagined an afternoon of bedlam as men of various age and nationality waddled about the park, holding their breeches, doubling over in misery as bombs of vomit and faeces exploded about their person. Like the aftermath of an all-you-can-eat raw chicken buffet. But there was no such sign of it. Corluka and Palacios- the allegedly worse stricken- had barn-storming opening forty-fives. Neither demonstrating any hints of fatigue or queasiness.
I imagine the Pavlyuchenko Fan Club has gained a few more members this weekend; the monthly newsletters alone are costing a fortune in stamps. Harry’s got his ‘From Russia With Love’ badge hidden under his lapels ready for the Cup Final. Bless. Another game and another impish bit of finishing from Mostovskoy’s favourite son. Give him a yard or two and he really doesn’t mess about, does he?
In the other most improved corner, Gareth Bale is continuing to have a revival pretty close to miraculous. What warms me most to young Baler is– attack-wise – he’s completely fearless. He’s constantly got his skates on; hugging the touchline, cutting inside. All roads lead to the opposition’s box and the swiftest route to goal. Direct or otherwise. He must be a nightmare to play against. That monkey is now not only off his back, it’s evolved into a super-human breed of full-back. Darwin would be tumbling off his stool at the rate of such progress.
And finally. Luka Modric. My how it’s nice to have to you around. Just a magical bit of work from him. After pulling a rabbit out of a swamp-filled hat last week, it must’ve been a relief to stretch his legs on something a little more horizontal. Not that anyone could get close to him, anyway. For forty-five string-pulling minutes, the Croatian was as lively as popping candy; neat passing, deft touches, all rounded off with a nifty twenty-yard curler just shy of thirty minutes.
Devised, assembled and finished in Croatia.
Thank our lucky stars that the shop window of World Cup 2010 has the shutters firmly down on Modric and his fellow countrymen this summer. We must do everything in out power to keep hold of that one.
In the meantime, Tottenham retain 4th.
Blimey. It’s gone all biblical.
Plague and pestilence hits North London. The Lodge has been closed down, cordoned off and presumably slapped with a big red cross to ward off pedestrians who may’ve inadvertently strayed into the epicentre. What next, frogs raining from the heavens?
Okay, so it’s probably not quite as dramatic as all that. Call it artistic licence.
The extent of the damage is uncertain; but damage there almost certainly is. Palacios and Corluka appear to be among the worst hit- both spending far too much time emptying various orifices by the sounds of it. Nasty business, that. The two look to be in some doubt for the weekend’s vital, potentially sticky, tie with Everton. (Yeah, a toffee/sticky pun. I went there.) Whether the bug’s merciless hand extends any further, or, indeed, becomes anymore severe is difficult to guess. It may well have already. If it’s gone all epidemic on us then you’d imagine Harry would be doing his best to downplay the body count as much as his twitchy poker face will allow. Sunday lunchtime. We’ll find out.
So, wading through soiled bed sheets and stratospheric temperatures, we look forward. It may be a bit hazy, but we must endeavour to do so. Everton at home. In the scheme of things, a mammoth game. Team selection will no doubt be reliant on whoever turns up; be it first-teamers or anyone with a pair of boots and can-do attitude. Either will be most welcome. All eyes on the Pavlyuchenko/Redknapp soap opera. While the plot thickens like a good gravy, you just can’t take your eyes off it. Hints and murmurs suggest- vomit permitting- Pav will start on Sunday. An opportunity for the Russian to make good on the faith we’ve all invested in him. Just keep scoring and we’ll keep investing.
David Moyes’ lot are on a charge at the moment. Opal Fruit League dumping aside, Everton have been going like the clappers; pumping wind in the sails at the most critical time. Chelsea and United are among the most recent scalps- neither would argue that they were victims of burglary. The Toffees outplayed them both. Sticky customers are…sorry…I’ll stop now.
Three points is what we’re after, then. But under the circumstances, a draw wouldn’t be terminal. Actually, scrap that. I’ve become fluent in loser talk. Virus or no virus. We need a win.
Have a prosperous and sickness-free weekend.
And so it continues.
If we’re fighting a war on two fronts, this is the Pacific leg; not quite as important as what’s going on in the mainland but vital nonetheless.
It’s that time of the week again, folks. An F.A Cup replay. And a quarter-final with Fulham awaits.
I think it’s fair to say we’ve lost our way in the Cup in recent years; two seasons in the wilderness and the almost guaranteed likelihood of drawing Man Utd in the early rounds has somewhat blunted our mojo. A shame, really, as it’s a competition in which we have a glittery, trophy studded history. Eight times winners, lagging only, behind our annual nemesis, United, and those tarts from up the road. But it’s been nearly two decades since our last taste of triumphant in a May final. 1991. Hummel were just wrapping up the end of their manufacturing deal with us and Paul Gascoigne was at the height of his powers. A life time ago.
The F.A Cup, then, has taken on new significance this year. No relegation battle to arrest our priorities, or any testing Euro-pot scuffles in some dark pocket of Southern Moldova. No Carling Cup final to prepare for, either. (Again, we have United to thank for that). So it seems we’ve got just enough hands free to navigate ourselves along the treacherous road to Wembley. And, with three of the big-hitters falling early, it really ought to be something we could manage.
As we’ve so often found to our cost, Bolton shouldn’t be confused with easy pickings. In laymen terms, they’re a bastard of a team to turn over. Home advantage is a blessing as we do decidedly better work on our own turf than we do at the Reebok; a ground where we can’t buy, steal or barter for a win.
Team selection is one to ponder. Pavlyuchenko, by rights, should be a no-brainer. His resourceful efforts on Sunday were just terrific; more than enough to deserve a chance to repeat the trick. After all, the last time we played Bolton at home- Harry’s first game in charge- Roman scored what turned out to be the winning goal. And before that we only had two points from…
Well, you know the rest.
2-1, I reckon.
A Super Pav double.
What say y’all?
Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen…
In other news, Aaron Lennon’s broken nether regions will require further inspection today. According to those in the know, a second tear has been located, which, rather troublingly, caused the lightning-heeled wingstress to keel over in training on Monday. Harry Redknapp, in all his wisdom, said this for Sky Sports:
“He was close to getting fit, but has had a bit of a setback.
“Hopefully it should not put him back much from where he was, and he could still be fit in a couple of weeks.”
“At first the diagnosis was he could be back in four or five weeks but you never know with these groin problems, they can take time and he has had a couple of setbacks.’’
Well that’s a kick in the groin- to excuse the unfortunate phrasing. I guess we’ll find out later the measure of things; with any luck it’s just precautionary. As the season reaches its turbulent apex, his is a face we could do with having around. Otherwise we’ll be asked to install yet more faith in the talents of a reinvigorated David Bentley. And I’m not sure if we’re all quite ready for that.
Come back soon, little man.
Alright, hands up. Who had some pre-match jitters going into this one? I know I did.
I was all but ready to write the obituaries. Typical, we score eight in one half at home then can’t score once in ninety minutes at their place. These bloomin’ relegation strugglers, they keep doing us over with their 10-0-0 tactics…blah, blah Who was that keeper? Gordon Banks?…yadda, yadda… I knew those flash b*stard wouldn’t cope playing that in that swamp.
And so on.
Thankfully, we needn’t have worried. It appears we are made of sterner stuff than we might’ve thought. In a torrid afternoon in the Lancashire, sleeves were rolled up to the shoulder- revealing homemade tattoos of bulldogs and machine guns- and the game was taken by the jugular. The pitch, as to be expected of one moonlighting in rugby league, was a nightmare. I’ve seen meteor sites with fewer divots. But it didn’t stop our capable herd trying to do things the right way rather than opting for the ‘ping it to the tall one’ method that such an occasion might have called for. Defying the laws of physics, we passed it fairly proficiently. The ball bobbled, slowed, stuck, but it was Tottenham doing their darndest to keep it on the deck and make a game of it. At times it was ugly- hideous, even. But like all good Disney villains, there was some beauty in there somewhere.
Modric’s cameo was a delight. It was like watching someone do an oil painting in the eye of a hurricane. It’s a wonder they’d even managed to stretch the canvas let alone paint a masterpiece. A blistering shift from the Croatian; quick thinking, quick footed and quickly get his name back on the team sheet for next week. If not sooner.
Grumbles from Wigan? I’ll say. It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the residents of the DW after Defoe’s conspicuous offside. I’m sure there’d be plenty of bile spewed over the internet’s forums and messages boards had we been on the receiving end. (Replay the game, find out where the linesman lives, take his family hostage, etc.) Lord knows, we’ve had our fair share of refereeing meltdowns. But, while it’s hard not to feel sympathy, it’s even harder not to be a little bit grateful when the decisions do go your way. In short. Stuff ‘em.
Super Roman Pavlyuchenko. He’s like a persistent ex-girlfriend. Despite all the hints- changing the locks, turning off all the lights and pretending we’re not at home- we just can’t get rid of him. He spends most of his time either moaning or, according to ‘Arry, yawning his way through training sessions, yet he garners more applause in twenty minutes than Darren Bent could in twenty orbits of Jupiter. Didn’t it just warm your innards to see Gomes, Modric and the like ambush him with bear hugs after the game; Defoe tore onto the pitch like an enamoured teenager. Then, as the crowd chanted his name, his fingers traced the symbol of his affection in front of the lingering Sky cameras.
Oh alright, then. We love you too.
A gritty away win, then. Perhaps even more significant than the nine goal trouncing at The Lane. Not only can we play some eye-catching stuff when we put our minds to it, we aren’t, as David Pleat once confirmed, a team of pansies. Well most of the time, anyway.
Back in the race.
Good morning, hello and welcome.
It’s probably safe to assume this might not unfold quite as it did last time around. Not that we’re a different team than we were three months ago, just the likelihood of us scoring nine in one game again is verging on the improbable, if not the down-right impossible. In fact, the odds in favour of such an event would almost certainly reach numbers that my brain would have trouble computing. Leaving me with that look of deadness about the eye which would cause onlookers to think I’d suffered an aneurism.
We don’t need nine goals on Sunday, or, indeed, a performance of such indulgence. Merely a win. Nothing fancy- just a harping back to the days of August and September when three points were the norm rather than the abnormal. Before someone took sandpaper to our wooden strikers and blunted them. In short, we need a war-cry, not an apologetic cough in the face of Martinez’s Wigan. Let’s get this season back on the rails.
Good news, if ever I heard it, comes in the form of a successfully rebuilt Aaron Lennon whose impeding homecoming looks set for the weekend. An operation, we’ve been informed, wasn’t needed after all- a relief for all concerned. Particularly Lennon, whose anatomy’s most delicate part they were planning on carving. Just terrific. Possibly not so for Wigan. I was informed a few days ago that Erik Edman had since moved on from the DW- in no small part thanks to his Barry Chuckle shift at our place – so it’ll be someone else’s job to keep shackles on the motor-footed one. Here’s hoping six weeks on the shelf hasn’t dulled his powers.
No team talk from me, then. Or any suggestion of what Harry’s team selection might be. Just fingers firmly betwixt in hope. A win, a win, a win.
Anything else might just bring on that aneurism.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to Wembley, it seems, is littered with potholes big enough to hide Tom Huddlestone’s lunchbox in. Another round and another case of being tethered to the docks rather than plain sailing in its bountiful, calm waters.
The good news, of course, is that we’re still in it. Rather less so is that Bolton are too and we’ve got another testing rendezvous to put in our diaries before we can even think about a quarter-final at The Cottage. Or further still.
A replay it is, then.
As will probably be the resounding sound-byte for the campaign, we could’ve done much better. A wobbly cack opening forty-five spent almost exclusively in our own half was followed, to some relief, by one injected with considerably more urgency. As a result, we were treated some sporadic bouts of eye-catching ‘pingy’ football and some decent chances to turn the game on its noggin. Thankfully at least, one was taken courtesy of Jermain Defoe’s rapacious instinct for a bit of space and the quickest route to net as he thumped home a timely equaliser. I don’t know what’s come over our resident goal-smith; years of work on the training ground, refining the art of eye-of-the-needle finishing, seem to have been usurped by means of putting a good old fashioned pair of laces through it. He can generate the power of the cosmos through that right-foot and I genuinely fear for anyone who’s daft enough to get in the way.
A foot like a traction engine.
Elsewhere, there were some familiar plots unfolding. Mainly in the confines of the eighteen-yard box. Just when Gareth Bale had shirked that unwanted jinxed simian off his back, the whole team appear to be under the grips of another. Penalties. England are better than us at penalties. Keane has rolled in a couple, albeit with the conviction of an ME sufferer, but in they’ve gone. A dreadful scuff from Thudd at the weekend- preceded by a run-up reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote scuttling on thin air over a canyon- one to be added to the ever growing list of twelve-yard fumbles we’ve notched up over the course of the season. The aforementioned Bob needed several attempts against Everton in the Carling Cup, Defoe went one better (or worse) against the Toffees and twanged his effort against Howard’s legs before repeating the trick against Leeds. And now Tommy, to the surprise of few, has done likewise.
The right honourable Kaybee dug up some interesting quotes on here earlier, straight from the lips of our fleet-footed Welshman via Global News:
““We don’t practise penalties really and it’s disappointing we missed one but things like that happen.
“Tom was down to take it before the game and he was unlucky. Will we practise them more now? You never know.””
What, not ever?
Seems a trifle odd.
The long and short of it, then, is that we’ve found another means of shooting ourselves in the foot, in the form of no-one in the team being confident taking penalties. While it hasn’t cost us in any kind of terminal sense, (every occasion we’ve missed we’ve drawn rather than lost) it is becoming quite a nuisance. When I hear the ref blow up for a spot-kick I want to feel excited by the prospect, not awash with a sense of deflation that we’d have a better chance scoring direct from a corner.
Still, Spurs are on their way to Wembley…
We’re just taking the scenic route.
I blame Paul Merson.
With the Sky Sports cameras whirring last night, Paul gave his thoughts on the game ahead. They’ll rip them apart, he told us assuredly, absolutely tear them to pieces. Really? Did he know something we didn’t? Were Wolves planning to field a team of chimpanzees? It would appear not. The trap he fell into, of course- and he should know better being an ex-Gooner- is that no matter how much of a banker it looks from the outside. Never bank on Tottenham. It’s the first rule of Fight Club.
I didn’t see the game, so I can only piece together what unfolded from hearsay and online match up-dates watched through my fingers. I think I’m right in assuming it wasn’t the prettiest ninety-minutes since the inception of time. Certainly not one for the history books. Plenty of invective spewed over the returning Kaboul and ‘Arry’s team selection which looked, for anyone’s money, puzzling from the start. More of that in a minute. I did hear that Jenas had a good game, but- and I’m not being at all facetious here- I couldn’t honestly tell if it was said in sarcasm.
That alone, I guess, tells its own story.
I devoted much of yesterday’s post bemoaning Mick McCarthy and his questionable approach to team selection; something which now does little else but ping egg into my face and drip down between the keys. As far as I can work out, our next League game is ten days away. So why, pray tell, did Modric and Palacios find themselves benched? Particularly Wilson, whose combative talents would’ve gone down a storm against such thrifty opposition. I find it baffling that he didn’t start. Correct me if I’ve missed something.
Anyway, more later if I get a chance to see the highlights and, importantly, I can bring myself to watch them. I expect if I do it’ll be in the style of Alex in A Clockwork Orange; eyes clamped open, bound to a chair, fighting the urge not to vomit every time Crouch spoons one wide.
Keep the faith.
Someone’s got to.