Spurs at the World Cup
To steal a line from the ever-perceptive and now departed Tim Sherwood: I didn’t exactly fall off my chair when discovering that Roy Hodgson had named an entirely Spurs-free England squad for next month’s World Cup. If you were being exceptionally generous you might have guessed that perhaps two of Tottenham’s number might have rummaged their way into Hodgson’s foremost thoughts; if only by the virtue of everyone else in the squad having been involved in some terrible leg-falling-off incident.
At best you’d put Spurs’ England hopefuls somewhere between Grant Holt and Jimmy Bullard in the pecking order.
Indeed, Andros Townsend is a name Uncle Roy has heard before. There might even be a half-formed memory of him stored away in some cobwebbed pocket of the England coach’s mind. There was a moustached man here once. He was quick, like the wind. Was he an astronaut? No, no, I’ve lost it.
Perhaps Hogdson could’ve been intoxicated with enough heady nostalgia from those couple of weeks in October, when Andros’ place aboard the jungle-bound airbus looked a sure thing, but injury and middling form post-Christmas lit the way for Oxlade-Chamberlain and the remarkably good Raheem Sterling.
Another possible candidate was Kyle Walker, who, while not the complete footballing dunderhead many would have you believe, still found himself below Johnson, Flanagan, Smalling and Phil Jones in the hierarchy. Even at full fitness he could’ve expected to miss out. Which tells you everything you need to know about England’s knack of harvesting limited right-backs.
It’s not all bad news for Spurs players, though. There are a handful who’ve not been quite shambolic enough to blight their chances of selection and will indeed be representing their nations this summer in piping hot, World Cup action. Even Nabil Bentaleb is going, to the nodding approval of weekend-dad, Tim.
In the sacré bleu corner, it’s Hugo Lloris. If Laurent Blanc did catch any of Spurs’ collapses against Man City or Liverpool last season, it wasn’t enough to threaten the former Lyon stopper’s position as France #1. The omens are never good for a team if their goalkeeper is in contention for Club Player of the Year, but it’s no exaggeration to suggest that things could’ve been a whole lot worse for Spurs were it not for Hugo.
Meanwhile, across the border. After a long and ultimately heart-wrenching love affair with Croatia, Belgium has now immerged as the new Nation d’Jour for Tottenham, with three of the handsome swines in the squad at present time. Despite altering states of form/interest from Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli throughout the year, all of them will be going to the World Cup with the tournament’s official dark horse. For the fans of the curioso out there, you might even see that rare sight of Jan Vertonghen looked arsed.
Paulinho made the host’s squad. There had been suggestions that the Brazilian played the last few months of the season with the handbrake on, as to not scupper his chances of making Scholari’s final 23. There’s probably some legitimacy to the claim; it’s reasonable for anyone to fear injury as long as Charlie Adam walks this earth- and playing in a World Cup in your own country is once-in-a-lifetime deal. But oddly, contrary to the accusation, Paulinho actually performed much better as the season’s end drew close. Even as the significance of each game dwindled, the midfielder’s contribution improved, looking more like the Confederations Cup Paulinho we hoped we’d bought.