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All Action No Plot's Michael Lacquiere's Take On Things..
2 years ago
Lilywhite Grumblings Post-Norwich & Pre-Wigan
The table continues to suggest that life is actually tickety-boo, but the brow furroweth with fresh earnestness around these parts, because hanging on for a narrow victory/draw, in games that ought to have been stopped after an hour for sheer cruelty to the opposition, now sits alongside inane twitterings and naughty-business-with-good-looking-but-vacuous-reality-TV-models on the list of favoured past-times of our heroes, with Maribor, Southampton and now Norwich providing recent evidence of this dubious trend.
This recurring business of taking the lead and then embarrassedly retreating and practically rolling out a red carpet for the opposition to wander back into the game, whether they want to or not, is frightfully sporting, but does have the dubious side-effect of leaving the army of lilywhite support wrenching out their hair and boiling their own heads in sheer, unabated frustration.
What the dickens goes in their empty heads when they finally take the lead is quite beyond my ken, but for those perusing the interweb pre kick-off today – and I’m sure most of them do indulge in a spot of AANP while they go about their pre-match rituals - for goodness sake chaps, next time you have a mediocre bunch of rag-tag overweights and amateurs down on the ground, kindly whip out your medical encyclopaedia app, locate the blasted jugular, grab hold of the nearest weapon or stabbing implement and thrust repeatedly until blood spurts all over your garish green boots and the opposition are nothing but a twitching, bloodied, defeated mess.
And Don’t Think You’re Escaping Without Blame Young Man
Our glorious leader hardly covers himself in glory either, for his enterprising tactical approach of bringing on extra defenders when our opponents are ready to crumble, just to make sure that everyone realises the official party line is ‘We’re-One-Goal-Ahead-Of-A-Weak-Team-So-Rather-Than-Take-The-Game-By-Its-Neck-Scruff-And-Deliver-A-Thrashing-Let’s-Barricade-Ourselves-In-And-DEFEND-FOR-OUR-LIVES’. Which is not really the Butch and Sundance modus operandi. Just telling the troops to keep going and score again would probably do the trick, instead of this bizarre reversion to skin-of-the-teeth mode every time.
‘Twas noted by an onlooker after my last witterings that a hidden agenda lurks within the corridors of AANP, to unroot AVB, hurl him from the top floor and reinstall ‘Arry. To reiterate my response, the assorted denizens of AANP Towers tend not to roll thusly. ‘Give AVB a few years’ is very much the mantra being hummed morning, noon and night around these parts, after which we can assess if his range of party tricks extends beyond looking uncannily like a stubbly Vertonghen.
A troubling observation of the early days of his reign is undoubtedly that the fare peddled by our heroes these days has all the gung-ho action-packed content of a dreary black and white arty French film with subtitles, which strays somewhat from the blitz of attacking excitement to which we have been treated in recent years – but one imagines that this will be righted soon enough, particularly when Dembele returns and Adebayor is available again. The trade-off of VDV for Dempsey/Sigurdsson continues to look like shoddy business however, and I will take some convincing otherwise.
So Wigan roll into town today, and top of the wish-list at AANP Towers is that once our lot finally take the lead, they jolly well knuckle down and look for more. The frantic final 10 minutes plus injury time is not big and not clever.
2 years ago
Southampton 1-2 Spurs: As Straightforward As It Gets With Out Lot
Top four after a quarter of the season - and in a team sans Dembele, Kaboul, Adebayor, Parker, BAE and Lloris - there ought really to be few grounds for grumbling. And yet… Asking any Spurs fan not to grumble is like asking a 1920s dandy to stay in for the afternoon and peruse some Descartes – it rather flies in the face of that whole raison d’etre jamboree. Thus it transpires that top four though we may be, one jolly well hopes that AVB’s tactical genius extends to more than these slightly desperate attempts to cling on against teams skipping around the relegation zone. Our glorious leader can hardly be judged on 10 or so games, but performances to date have hardly been of the ilk of the majority under ‘Arry.
First Half Fun
In that joyous first half of course things were so entertainingly one-sided it seemed almost cruel, and the two-goal lead was the half-time minimum. Recent mumblings about lack of fluidity were merrily shoved back down the AANP gullet as Hudd had a whale of a time in those midfield acres, Bale did his usual thing and Lennon’s form continued to be as sparkly as many can remember in his lilywhite career.
The use of Lennon in particular in that inside right channel also has the merry side-effect of unleashing the increasingly angry young Master Walker to gallop up the flank, and while his form this season has not quite been what it was, one imagines that opposing left-backs would rather he just stayed in his own half and picked his nose.
Second Half Regression
So all tickety-boo by the break, prompting ill-advised musings in the AANP cranium as to whether this might be the day on which we racked up four, five or more. Wrist-slappings have been duly administered for such churlish optimism about our heroes’ capacity to get from A to be in the simplest manner possible.
Naturally enough, what followed was not the hiding of Southampton lives, but the gradual regression of our lilywhite lot (or black and grey quarters, or whatever the blinking heck that pyjama outfit is supposed to be. Quite what relevance those colours have to anything in our history is beyond me. Honestly, young people these days.).
Presumably the AVB order was not to drop back ten yards en masse and be a distant second to every other loose ball (at least one jolly well hopes that that was not the AVB order) but in the finest White Hart Lane tradition they certainly contrived to make dashed hard work of it.
Whatever the problem was, poor old Livermore did not seem to be the solution, but in calmer moments of reflection one expects he will improve in time. The overall contribution of Dempsey also remains a little mysterious, and Sandro has some way to go before he can be classified as Dembele-esque (although that close-range, near-decapitating head-block certainly go the juices flowing – good lad).
Plenty of room for improvement then, but one way or another we are picking up these wins, which is the nub of the thing I suppose. Not exactly comfortable though, is it?
2 years ago
Southampton - Spurs Preview: Do Buck Up Now, Chaps
Sniffing around the Top Four is probably just about where we would have wanted to be when the clocks changed, so bravo to our troops, but if focus is switched from the numbers to the pittering and pattering of multi-coloured boots on lush greenery then the outlook is not quite as rosy. Wins have been won, but by and large in slightly unconvincing fashion, with sparks of fluid attacking genius all a bit too rare.
A fixture against second-bottom Southampton, whose shipping of goals left, right and centre is turning into a trademark feature, ought to give our heroes a chance to find some fluidity. Dembele-lessness continues, which means the slightly less energetic frame of Hudd will be lumbering around the centre, but he has it in his armoury to boss the game, particularly against one of the division’s weaker outfits. Elsewhere Adebayor’s injury means that Defoe will again be the lone man in attack, but Bale is back and that alone ought to be enough. For all the adages and pre-match comments for the press, anything less than victory would represent shoddy work. Over to you, chaps.
2 years ago
Maribor 1-1 Spurs: The Half-Hearted Amble to Glory Continueth
Still not really clicking, which is just about grumpily bearable against the European champions, but a darned sight more irritating against Slovenia’s finest. The lack of cutting edge in attack had me thumping my head repeatedly against the nearest wall from around midway through the first half. Injury to Adebayor was a shame, for this game had ‘Two-Man Attack’ scrawled across it in the sort of chunky font normally reserved for unintelligible graffiti. Elsewhere a couple of campaigns were given more scarcely-needed impetus, as the ‘Without-Bale-And-Dembele-We’re-Worryingly-Impotent’ brigade were given a second boost within a week, while the ‘VDV-And-Modders-For-Sigurdsson-And-Dempsey-Is-A-Slightly-Rubbish-Trade-Off-When-You-Think-About-It’ movement, which first stirred into life in August, is gaining credibility by the game.
‘Twas a night on which, given our lack of personnel to play two up front, our deeper midfielders Hudd and Sandro might have shown more attacking urgency. Lennon too just seemed too dashed nice as he went about his business, seemingly reluctant to embarrass his hosts by tearing them to pieces and instead settling for that pause-and-limply-pass-infield routine that is inevitably met with sighs of relief all round amongst the opponents.
Here were a few moments - the lad Falque shook things up a tad on his introduction, and young Masters Caulker and Naughton put in decent performances, but ‘tis rather depressing to clutch at such straws after a bland draw against this lot. Having banged on about what a glitzy, glam competition this Europa thing is, AVB needs to inject some ingenuity and ruthlessness into the training ground protein shakes, and jolly well destroy this lot when they visit the Lane for the return fixture.
2 years ago
Chelsea 4-2 Spurs: Who Knew A Baby Could Cause So Much Trouble?
Some would possibly consider it poor form to wish a thousand violent and irreversible curses upon the new baby Bale, but new mewling, puking wretch will have a few things to answer for as it comes of age. (As luck would have it AANP’s latest newphew was born in Wales a couple of days earlier, so will be instructed to steal Bale Jr’s crayons by way of retribution, at the earliest opportunity). Every inch the modern man, our handsome young Welshman ignored the folk who churn out his millionaire’s salary each week, and instead prepared for kick-off by scarpering off to the homeland to witness the debut of the fruit of his loins. One can hardly prevent such lunacy I suppose (although as Ms AANP pointed out, come the birthing hour in her native land of Modric the menfolk are consigned to the waiting room anyway, while the fairer sex do the hard work).
So with Bale’s gallops directed elsewhere, and Moussa Dembele already out injured, the game was practically ceded before kick-off. Minus Bale and Dembele our heroes looked fairly bereft of attacking ideas in the first half in particular, particularly given the curious game-plan of carefully rationing Aaron Lennon’s involvement to an absolute minimum. Hudd retains possession well enough, but he does tend to do things rather slowly, and the breakneck counter-attacks on which we have been brought up consequently petered out prematurely, epitomised at one head-scratchingly baffling point when Dempsey opted to spin round and dribble back towards halfway.
Having struggled to put two passes together in the first half our lot did buck up a bit in the second, but AVB will have to earn his corn to solve this little tickler, because without our two leading lights the supporting cast do look decidedly less potent. Matters were exacerbated somewhat by our lot’s complete impotence in the face of Chelsea’s slick passing triangles. Be it their back-four or that jolly dangerous attacking triumvirate of Oscar, Mata and Hazard, there were far too many occasions when that horrible mob simply six-yarded their way out of trouble and right up into our area.
Elsewhere on the Pitch
The returns of either BAE or Kaboul cannot come quickly enough, as Gallas chipped in with his now customary sprinkling of lapses. A handy chap to have around the squad, days like yesterday suggested that the visit of the league-leaders is not really the time to be relying upon his creaking limbs. The sooner Kaboul or Vertongehn can replace him in the centre, the better.
Dempsey and Sigurdsson also still look a bit too much like squad players at the moment; and young Master Walker presented the world and his Twitter followers with the most bizarre brain meltdown in the closing stages to seal our fate; but at least Defoe remains in fine fettle, responding to his controversial axing from the AANP fantasy team with the sort of predatory strike that had AANP Senior murmuring something about Greaves. Seeing Torres fluff his lines at t’other end only made it sweeter.
Irritatingly, the nagging suspicion remains that at full strength we would have fared a darned sight better, but such is life, and by the time Match of the Day started we were still in fifth, which was an unexpected bonus. Already this season we have played worse and won, so one rather hopes that Southampton will feel the wrath – and joys of fatherhood – of the lilywhite heroes next week.
2 years ago
Spurs - Chelsea Preview: Little Concern For The Chap On The Touchline
This horrible lot again. Revulsion levels for Chelski were upped to a shuddering maximum over the summer, when they scandalously denied us our champions league spot by somehow flouncing off with the shiny European pot last summer (the moment of their winning penalty – and our champions league elimination – as seen through AANP eyes, was thoughtfully captured hither by a chum while on stag in Portugal).
Just about every article printed over the last 24 hours has lathered on interminably about AVB, his former mob, his current mob, the clash of his former against his current mob, and every other AVB connotation at which one can wave a jolly large stick. But really, for the faithful who troop along to the Lane at lunchtime the nub of the thing is whether our lot outscore t’other lot, with relatively little concern for whichever chap wears the suit on the sidelines.
While four consecutive wins is, statistically, about as fine fettle as we could wish for, the on-pitch stuff has not quite been the very model of fluency. A Terry-less Chelsea provides opportunity, particularly with our handsome young Welshman approaching top form at a gallop, but Messrs Sandro and Dembele will jolly well need to have their defensive hats well secured, as the opponents will have all manner of shiny, expensive foreign types charging at our high defensive line.
Aside from the media frenzy about his former employers, AVB will have to focus on the day job and make one or two sizeable calls regarding personnel. The choice of goalkeeper for a game of this magnitude likely to resonate along the N17 corridors (and while ‘tis neither here nor there admittedly, saving a Cesc Fabregas penalty midweek was a smart move from Lloris, a couple of weeks into his Tottenham career). The other point of interest will be in attack, where Adebayor is by all accounts now back to fitness, and may be deemed a more suitable option as pressure-release in a game like this, despite Defoe’s barely containable gusto of recent weeks. If AANP were in charge the two of them would start, but alas being in charge is a make-believe world in which Gazza’s career would have been saved, 2unlimited would still rule the airwaves and drastic re-writes would have been ordered of the scripts of both Alien 3 and Terminator 3.
Having already bettered Man Utd, through that curious mix of brio and last-ditch defending, our heroes already have one sizeable scalp displayed proudly on the mantelpiece, and that same combo will presumably be required again today. A fifth consecutive win would make this one of the cheeriest crises of the modern era.
2 years ago
Idle Musings on Spurs vs Greeks and Villains
Panathanaikos 1 – 1 Spurs
A curious one, that Greek escapade, to the casual observer at least, as our heroes seemed determined to sleepwalk through the entire episode. Possibly considering the whole Europa evening school beneath them following the vanquishing of more illustrious foes in Manchester days earlier, or maybe distracted en masse by that curious ‘Adebayor Power Horse’ advertising hoarding that kept flashing up, our heroes determinedly flicked the dial to ‘General Apathy’ and half-heartedly ambled their way through the motions – into the lead, back to parity and ultimately rather clinging on somewhat, all the while giving the impression that unless the nearest chum gave a sharp prod they might just curl up into a ball and nap for a few minutes on Greek soil.
Viewed with particular interest from the AANP armchair were the performances of Hudd and Daws, neither of whom are exactly the rocks upon which the kingdom of AVB are to be built. Alas, much though I wanted Hudd in particular to outshine all around him and produce a performance to be immortalised on youtube under the title ‘Ruddy Hudd Masterclass in Dreamy Technique’, it was a rather hit-and-miss affair, with some inch-perfect, raking diagonals interspersed with the odd misplaced pass, against a backdrop of slightly tubby huff and puff.
As for Daws, ‘twas his pros and cons all neatly packaged into one handy ninety-minute demo. A towering, heart-and-soul header for our goal, followed by leaden-footed sluggishiness as the opposing striker disappeared into the distance and equalised, the unfortunate truth was that it justified AVB’s decision to shunt him well down the queue of Premiership starters. In this era of indecently young mangers, high defensive lines and manic work-rates, it is easy to see why Messrs Hudd and Daws are putting in some mighty serious thumb-twiddling time on the fringes.
Spurs 2-0 Villa
Merrily woken from their slumbers by last Sunday, this was still not quite the vintage Hotspur. Once the two-goal lead was established it all became simple enough, and by the time Villa were reduced to ten it was but a merry little training ground exercise (which, the pedants amongst us grumbled, ought to have seen our goal difference upped) but for the best part of an hour there was a conspicuous lack of fluency.
The wisdom of Dempsey/Gylfi playing off the front-man remains debatable, particularly at the Lane against teams we expect to dominate, but if we can ease our way to victory while not at the peak of our powers then this ‘crisis’ remains most welcome.
At the other end poor old Friedel can feel a might piqued at his omission (although he may want to use the spare time to work on gathering crosses) but there is no particular grumble in this quarter over the use of Lloris. Solid enough from le Frenchman – indeed, a first clean-sheet of the league season – but it will probably require the best part of a season before we can judge the chap. No idea why ‘keepers these days punch everything though, what the devil has happened to the good old-fashioned art of just catching the bally thing?
So as we drum our fingers, teach ourselves new skills (darning, at AANP Towers, since you ask - and very handy it’s proving too) and wait for the international to-and-fro to wind down it’s four Premiership wins in a row, and a Europa campaign that has been a little unnecessarily complicated. And who amongst us would not have settled for such fare when the troops were jeered off against Norwich a few weeks back?
2 years ago
Man Utd 2-3 Spurs: Unmissable. And Yet…
Something for us all to relate to the grandchildren, what? Well not at AANP Towers as it happens, as the entire, monumental, historic tug-of-war played second fiddle to a friend’s wedding in Tuscany of all places. So if you want the lowdown on a belt-loosening five-course meal, copious amounts of a rather cheeky red and the mother of all lightning storms in North-West Italy, then look no further – but alas as to the merits of Caulker at centre-back, or Dempsey as the principal shoulder upon which Defoe could lean, the cupboard is rather bare in this corner of the interweb.
Therefore, alas, the evening’s ramblings may prove even more inane than usual – awfully sorry. However, from general scouring of the interweb I have cottoned on to the general gist of things, and frankly if one of lilywhite persuasion has stumbled their way to these pages at this hour, it could fairly confidently be assumed that they are already well versed in the various scampering of all in lilywhite yesterday afternoon.
Points of Note
‘Tis a fairly reliable maxim that the cut-pastings of the MoTD minions are to be eyed askance, but if nothing else the highlights reel reinforced the notion that young Master Bale has been paying attention when taught the principles of finishing, for in aiming for the corner he found the net with his weaker foot, and in shooting across the ‘keeper he assisted Dempsey’s winner. Here at AANP Towers we have always been rather fond of Defoe because his attitude to finishing is generally to lash the thing as hard as he can on target, without any consideration to fancy chips and whatnot, and Bale similarly bypasses superfluities when presented with a chance.
A pat on the back and congratulatory pretzel too for Clint Dempsey. Admittedly he hardly went above and beyond the call of duty in popping up in the area, but within a 4-2-3-1 it is pretty essential that he busts a gut to arrive in the area and apply coups de grace as required. The role becomes all the more important when Defoe heads out to the wings or drops deep, and the above scenarios fell neatly into place for our third. A tap-in it may have been, but the requisite gut-busting had been done in preparation.
Doubtless there are reams more to be written, but while every football fan on the planet will presumably appreciate the torture of monitoring the closing stages of a game via the medium of a regularly refreshed mobile phone webpage, it hardly translates into the most perceptive analysis. On rare occasions such as these however, it can be just as satisfying to gloss over the minutiae, and simply savour that rarest of headlines - victory at Old Trafford.
2 years ago
Spurs 2-1 QPR: The Portuguese For ‘Huzzah’
Not quite as we would have scripted admittedly, but only the most pedantic of lilywhite persuasion will grumble about the manner in which we stumbled our way over the finishing line today. To date this season, the four walls of White Hart Lane have witnessed vastly inferior attempts to wrap up the points and cavort our way down the High Road with the sounds of chortles ringing the air and three points slung over the shoulder – hence we might be well advised to thank the mid-September deities and shuffle off into the gloaming.
Partying Like It’s February 2010
Bale at left-back was the eyebrow-raiser de jour, and while not exactly an unparalleled success, the pre-match verdict at AANP Towers was a slightly sheepish nod of approval. Way back in the sepia-tinged days of February 2010, when young Master Bale was a few shades greener behind the ears, his deployment at left-back worked a treat, as the left midfielder in residence (Bentley I think, bizarrely) tucked inside creating yawning great big acres of greenery into which the handsome young Welshman duly charged, having been granted the bonus of a flying start from 15 yards inside his own half. Alas, the bally thing just did not quite click today, and with lustre distinctly lacking in most other areas there was a most conspicuous forlornness to the manner in which our heroes trooped off at half-time.
To his credit young AVB took time out from his uncanny Vertonghen impressions to rearrange the pawns at half-time, with Master Caulker introduced, Bale shunted forward into more natural habitat and Dempsey adopting something that looked suspiciously like a striking role, and our heroes muddled their way into the lead accordingly.
All of which laid the foundations for that most feared of beasts, The One-Goal Lead At Home In The Last Ten Minutes. ‘Tis a creature that has the same effect upon the current lilywhite troupe as crying women have upon yours truly – but to their credit, rather than spinning around in panicked circles and gibbering unintelligibly, they made a few creditable attempts at bundling a third into the QPR net and putting the whole dashed issue to bed. Admittedly Friedel had to hurl himself full length a few times, and Gallas made one or two of his customary last-ditch blocks, but doing things the jolly complicated way has been turned into an art form by this lot over the years, so we ought not to complain too vociferously. Three points at home, and “Huzzah, huzzah and thrice I say huzzah” (or the Portuguese equivalent) is no doubt the expostulation ringing out within the four walls of the AVB abode tonight. Hear hear.
2 years ago
Spurs - QPR Preview
A fairly straightforward drill, one would expect. Play as we have done in our last couple of games and one would expect that the QPR mob will be worn down soon enough, but AVB has already endured a rather ignominious crash-course in huff, puff and general toil against less talented but mightily committed dross. However, against Reading last week our heroes showed the world that they are beginning to get the hang of this victory malarkey, the only (albeit minor) gripe being that our dominance ought to have merited a greater margin of victory.
What might have been a chin-stroking selection conundrum in attack has morphed into a gentle, straightforward exercise in status quo maintenance, with young Defoe looking sharper than a young viking’s scythe on his first day of school. The inclusion of Dempsey in the starting line-up has elicited a lip-smack at AANP Towers, but as ever the pulse of the operation will be the almighty Dembele.
Things may not have gone to plan in late-August, but few things inject spring back into step as a two-match winning run. One rather hopes our lilywhite chums take the hint.
2 years ago
Spurs 0-0 Lazio: The Right Direction Lies Hither
More little steps in the right direction, one might muse while sipping a late-night bourbon. Admittedly patience tends to be in short supply in this cutthroat age of crazed-internet loons blogging every time the lilywhite heroes troop forth, but when trying to adopt the veneer of a long-term observer – a modus operandi presumably practised by the good pastor Levy – we Spurs-supporting folk ought probably to appreciate that the new era is beginning to take some sort of shape. The XI selected by the AVBmeister signalled in no uncertain terms what the party line is to be on Europa fare, and had the added benefit of allowing our troops another opportunity to get used to the 4-2-3-1 parade.
And a steady job they did of it too - little, rightly-directed steps indeed. But for some officiating whims we might have bounded off a goal or two to the good, but the performance alone was sufficiently pleasing, with possession a-plenty and something like a dozen shots at goal, compared to just the one against.
Not much to report on the debut front, with Lloris required to do little more than take the occasional goal-kick and surreptitiously pick his nose, while Caulker (admittedly not officially on debut) looked calm enough, and Dempsey was a jolly sight unlucky to be denied a classic attacking midfielder’s goal. Amongst our more experienced sages it struck me that both the blessings and curses of being Aaron Lennon were exemplified, as the little chap repeatedly scampered beyond his man, only to make questionable decisions or send his final ball a little awry. Bale’s worrying conviction that he really is the long-lost twin of Cristiano Ronaldo continued, while support continues to grow for the motion that Dembele’s broad shoulders are the type around which an entire team can be fashioned.
Room for improvement then, and when the stakes are higher we will presumably weep and gnash our teeth at the inability to translate superiority into goals, but this was at least an evening on which the AVB masterplan continued to gain some traction.
2 years ago
Spurs - Lazio Preview: The New Dawn Continueth
Ah Lazio, adopted Italian team of many a lilywhite who grew up imitating P. Gascoigne Esq. in the playground, and spent their Sunday afternoons settling into the sofa on to hear that chap yell “GoooLLLAAAZZZZZooooo”, before seeing Gazza turn four players inside out and then merrily burp into the camera.
Happy days indeed, and more such joyous occasions are to follow as of this very evening apparently, because the glorious lilywhites of N17 are quite sincere about pilfering the Europa trophy come May 2013, if AVB is to be believed. The new dawn really doth continueth apace.
Champions League qualification is presumably still the priority, but silverware of any sort is most welcome, and the daring combo of AVB’s commitment and our status as one of a handful of favourites suggests that actually winning this whole dashed thing is not beyond the realms of possibility.
With Lazio cheerily waving down from (jointly) atop the Serie A pile, this has assumed the status of rather a heavyweight European clash, and as such one suspects that AVB won’t go a-tinkering with too much gay abandon. Lloris can be expected to bid us all a sunny bonjour from between the sticks; injury to Adebayor means Defoe could be replaced by Dempsey, if our glorious leader is feeling particularly inventive; and the likes of Daws, Hudd and Caulker might also be glimpsed; but a team of scrawny teens last seen practising for a recorder concert this almost certainly won’t be. As Thursday night, ITV4 fare goes, this is shaping up to be quite the lip-smacker.
2 years ago
Reading 1-3 Spurs: Little Commemorative Statues
The lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn, the three-man midfield is bossing things and young Master Defoe is running riot – it may be over-stating things a might to suggest that all’s right with the world after a routine dismantling of mediocre relegation fodder, but great big exhalations of relief are being puffed by lilywhites across the land (not least, one suspects, in the household of the assorted VBs). As ever we have had to wait a few games, but the good ship Hotspur has finally lurched off on its way, and huzzah for that.
Dembele and Chums
Defoe might raise a rather piqued eyebrow, but AANP is tempted to suggest that ‘twas won in midfield. Dembele skated along this way and that, oozing regal control over things, with generous lashings of strength, control, discipline, awareness and well-judged, well-executed Viera-esque forward bursts. With Sandro a more-than-adequate Rodney to Dembele’s DelBoy, our heroes seemed mightily well-balanced in the centre, and wholesome goodness accordingly seeped forth from every pore.
Gylfi – Splitting Opinions and Defences
There have been conflicting opinions of Sigurdsson’s contribution, both at Reading yesterday and in general this season, with murmurs in some quarters that he is not quite of the standard of those around him. The presence on the sidelines of [C.] Dempsey Esquire ought to keep young Gylfi on his toes, and while in these quarters the preference would be for our American cousin in that advanced midfield role, Sigurdsson seems at least to be toeing the party line, in terms of joining in with all that midfield high-jinks and keep-ball, and gamely trotting forward to support Defoe. Moreover, while the close-range miss was a little embarrassing, the supremely-weighted pass for Lennon, which resulted in our opener, ought to have a small statue erected in its honour, for here at AANP Towers a perfectly-weighted pass inside a full-back is right up there alongside the musical adventures of 90s beat combo The KLF and the verbal niceties of Malcolm Tucker, on the list of stuff that has us tipping our hats in goggle-eyed admiration.
Marvellous Stuff From Young Defoe
Of course it would be remiss to pootle through proceedings without clearing one’s throat in honour of Defoe. His detractors will presumably continue to point to his limitations, greediness and propensity for wandering offside, but the solid counter-argument to all this was pretty evident yesterday. Possibly more impressive than the goals he scored was the one he missed, in the first half – plucking the ball out of the sky (taking out two defenders in the process) and, before the ‘keeper had had time to recall what day it was, belting it netwards with the outside of his right foot, which really is the mark of a man wearing his hat at a jaunty angle and not caring who sees. As it left his foot the sculptors of AANP Towers primed themselves to chisel out another commemorative effigy, but alas, the execution was slightly amiss, and rather a shame it was too.
Minor criticisms can be lobbed around – such games as these really ought to be wrapped up and rather boringly ended as a contest not much later than half-time, while the goal conceded was awfully sloppy. Those, however, are for another day. The priority here was really just to despatch this mob and trundle our way up the table.
2 years ago
Reading - Spurs Preview: Some Early Over-Reactions to the AVB Era
This is becoming a tad farcical now, no? That a new manager will pop the inherited squad in the shredder and redesign the whole bally thing is inevitable; but tasked with matching or bettering the Top Four the latest shiny new project of Messrs Levy and AVB has not so much gone off the rails as just stalled on the start-line, while everyone else has tootled off ahead in a puff of smoke.
The growing number of restless natives wandering the streets of N17, with burning spears in one hand and mocked-up severed AVB heads in t’other, ought probably to remember that Rome was not built in a day. Nevertheless, even an aedificator XI handpicked by Romulus and Remus would be expected to cling on to home wins against one of Norwich and West Brom, transition process or not.
The WBA and Norwich Debacles
To watch our lot dominate WBA without scoring (at least in the first half) was frustrating enough, but at least the murmur in the stands was “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. New boss, new kit, but while the same problems were evident (possession to goals ratio) our heroes at least zinged the ball around with the aplomb of yore.
However, seeing them crumble under a West Brom assault in the second half, and then achieve the exalted status of being outplayed at home to Norwich, has elicited a few embarrassed coughs from the masses in the White Hart Lane stands. It’s not really the all-singing, all-dancing whirlwind into the Top Four that was advertised on the campaign leaflet, what?
As with the script of Terminator 3, this 4-2-3-1 business sounds rather exciting and on paper it appears to tick various important boxes, but the poor lambs doing the business out there on the pitch have seemed less and less comfortable with their lot with each passing minute.
Sandro and Livermore are both firm favourites at AANP Towers, but they are not exactly providing flashes of ingenuity to leave flummoxed opponents pummelling the turf in confusion, nor, if I may be so bold, are they really fulfilling their combined raison d’etre, of nipping in the bud any planned opposition attack on the lilywhite goal. Out wide, the young whippets formerly known as Lennon and Walker have been spotted aborting their forward sprints mid-dash, and spinning round to pass the ball backwards while desperately trying to remember the instructions and long words of AVB. Egads.
In one 45-minute cameo that Dembele chap has unwittingly volunteered to be leader of the post-Arry revolution, and while VDV/Modders-out-Fulham-midfielders-in might seem a rummy piece of bargaining at first glance, it ought to work out well enough. Both Messrs Dempsey and Sigurdsson can do convincing impressions of a more sprightly VDV; while the inevitable loss of Modders was never going to be compensated for by a like-for-like replacement. Instead, it is not too controversial to suggest that Dembele is a slightly different kettle of midfield fish, and with such galvanising qualities as drive, strength, dribbling skills and the capacity for an awesome beard it is fervently hoped that the revolution begins at his size eights.
Thus do we find ourselves locked in our first relegation battle of the season, of all things. Teething problems they may have been so far, but the time has probably arrived for our heroes to tighten their cravats, slick back their hair and jolly well tear Reading apart.
Avb has a few selection dilemmas, from Friedel-or-Lloris to Defoe-or-Adebayor, via Dembele and Dempsey. Whatever the personnel we ought to be strong enough to prevail, but alas such has been the sentiment in all three games so far. Just do the decent thing and outscore them today, eh chaps?
2 years ago
Newcastle 2-1 Spurs: That Familiar Gloomy Hue
Ah, gloomy hue of disappointment, how I’ve missed thee. After the dashed unfairness that was Chelski pilfering our Champions League spot with the final act of last season, a couple of months on and our heroes were straight back in the groove, slinking off home with nothing but empty hands and slightly hurt expressions, when they deserved to hold aloft the carcass of a freshly captured point.
Merrily, smatterings of cautious optimism can still be detected if one squints a little and tilts the head sideways. The 4-2-3-1 rather forces our heroes to trot hither and thither, and the end result seems to be a healthy degree of off-the-ball movement and various options for the man in possession. The midfield five (for want of a better collective noun) seemed pretty happy with life in their respective roles, and galling though both conceded goals were, we were hardly scythed to pieces by the Geordie mob. Indeed, a couple of minor adjustments of the radar might have had us wandering in a half-time with a two goal lead to throw away - although as my old man the venerable AANP senior is always quick to point out, they only deserve credit for hitting the woodwork if they were aiming for it (and that would betray a slightly rummy approach to the game, what?)
That said, there was of course plenty to satiate the doom-mongers in our party. Defoe fought the good fight jolly well, but six foot three and fourteen stone he most decidedly isn’t, which leaves Daniel Levy 11 days to thumb through his wallet or start intravenously injecting Defoe with spinach and oily fish to turn him into some sort of Drogba reboot.
Messrs Lennon and VDV made a solid joint effort for this season’s prestigious Softest, Most-Ill-Advised, Worst-Timed, Never-Going-To-Get-The-Ball tackle, although my Spurs supporting chum Ian later opined that their clumsy clanking had begun outside the area. All rather moot now, one might sniff.
AVB’s Choices of Personnel
Young AVB will presumably spit out his dummy and bawl for a lollipop unless AANP affords him some column inches, so I oblige by questioning a couple of selections – notably the choice of Gallas ahead of Vertonghen. His prerogative, and Gallas performed steadily enough - I would just be interested to hear the rationale.
Elsewhere, the omission from the entire matchday squad of Hudd bodes ill and leaves me awfully concerned. AVB has some history of ostracising folk, and given that our new formation allows for a ball-playing central midfielder or two it would be a dashed shame if a rope were tied around the significant frame of Hudd and three burly chaps from the nearest building site were tasked with slowly hauling him out of the doors and along the High Road before slapping a note on him that read “fao Martin Jol”.
Neither was Daws anywhere to be found. Injured, does anyone know? In truth, loveable and huggable though he may be, Daws has never quite been the very embodiment of reliability, but this was again, nevertheless, an eyebrow-raising call.
The Long Game
Rumour has it that Season 2012/13 will be, in common with every single one of its predecessors, a marathon rather than a sprint. This accords rather neatly with the AVB era, which does appear to be something of a long-term project. As such, issues such as supplementing the forward line and bundling Modders out of the exit will eventually be resolved, and the Top 4 may or may not be on the agenda this season, but in the longer term one can begin to see the blurry outline of a plan.
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