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All Action No Plot's Michael Lacquiere's Take On Things..
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Bolton 1-4 Spurs, Plus A Timely Catch-Up On Recent Events…

Heavens above. AANP ought to have known better than to wave away the whisky for five minutes while real-life gubbins intervened, but since I last tapped at these keys there have been debacles against Chelski and Norwich, followed up by rather professional dismantlings of Blackburn and Bolton. What to make of it all? Charge your glasses and follow hither…

Spurs 1-5 Chelski
Cast your minds back to Wembley if you will. Lest ye need reminding, all sorts of indignation flowed around the streets of North London, and quite rightly so, given that Chelski seemed to be awarded a goal for the fairly innocuous achievement of having a shot charged down in the area; but such is life, and of more concern at AANP Towers was the ease with which Chelski took their other four goals.

Rarely have our heroes performed with such gusto as when racked with the injustice of life and the refereeing decisions it produces, but equally notable was the decision taken en masse to give up the whole bally thing as soon as we went 3-1 down. Naturally enough Scott Parker can be spared too much criticism, fighting the good fight all the way to the 90th minute and beyond, but to see the rest of them collectively slump shoulders and exhale with 10 minutes remaining and the situation by no means irretrievable was dashed bothersome.

Qpr 1-0 Spurs
The usual ills, with which we have become depressingly familiar in recent weeks, were paraded in all their glory against this rabble - plenty of possession but precious little invention; a complete and resolute absence of off-the-ball movement; the mind-boggling determination to stick Lennon on the left and Bale on the right – but when the ever-reliable Brad Friedel gets an attack of Gomes-itis it really is time to remove oneself quietly and go for a lie-down.

Spurs 2-0 Blackburn
Jolly well more like it, and not a moment too soon. A pedant – and they are hardly a dying breed here at AANP Towers – would continue the season-long grumble about our profligacy in front of goal, with a 2-0 scoreline hardly justifying near-100% possession and 19 shots on goal, but given the travails of recent weeks perhaps we should just quietly sacrifice a small rodent in gratitude to the gods of Champions League qualification, and be grateful for what we have.

Sandro generally comes across as a good egg. Perhaps bereft of a couple of well-tightened screws, and not necessarily a chap you would entrust to feed your goldfish, but certainly not lacking in enthusiasm and dedication. This has at times manifested itself in wildly mistimed tackles, but on Sunday he struck all the right notes – winning every tackle with a merry crunch, surging through half a dozen challenges and straight down the heart of the Blackburn defence and at one point almost snapping the crossbar. (On top of which he dealt with the potentially awkward scenario of on-field vomiting most adeptly, by simply taking a deep breath and continuing to stretch every sinew for the lilywhite cause.)

Yes, ‘twas only Blackburn, but mediocrity of opponent has hardly prevented some insipid performances from our lot in recent weeks. In the absence of Parker, Sandro’s was a most useful contribution, and a most professional performance from our heroes as a collective.

Bolton 1-4 Spurs
What a difference an Aaron Lennon makes, particularly when the Brains Trust stumbles across the most novel idea of parking him on the right, winding him up and releasing him. From the off he was a blur of little legs and jazz hands, which provided a handy cue for the rest of our heroes to pile forward on top of their hosts and provide a few nostalgic reminders of that glorious era, Ye First Halfe of This Season.

And how right it all looked, with Bale galloping down the left, Modders yanking strings hither and thither in the centre and VDV always on hand to roll possession along. Lennon may not have necessarily been the outstanding performer, but his very presence on the right seems to provide stability to the fabric of the universe, and as a serendipitous side-effect it also gives our Starting XI a useful balance. Oh that ‘Arry had invested in a reserve right-winger in the January sales (or simply retained Master Pienaar).

Admittedly there was a wobbly 15 minutes at the start of the second half, when the incessant bombardment from the skies threatened the general serenity of things, but unlike against QPR and Norwich, our superior class and technique was translated into net-bulging. Witness Modders’ goal, and the weight of his pass for our third. Such moments deserve to win games, and the best Bolton could offer in return were the elbows of Davies.

If there is a point of concern from our two recent wins it appears to be Danny Rose’s continued ignorance of the basic tenets of playing left-back, playing football and the very principles of physics that govern the behaviour of a moving ball. By the start of the second half even his own team-mates seemed to think twice when he availed himself for a pass.

However, with two games left it is to the credit of our heroes that they have recovered from those self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the feet, and hauled themselves back to within a whisker of that ‘orrible lot down the road. Good grief, this might even come down to goal difference.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs - Chelsea Preview: Cometh the Creaking-Limbed Combo

The lucky blighters of mid-80s Los Angeles had the A-Team, the ungrateful denizens of Gotham City had a giant man-bat with a handy penchant for pugilism, but when we have a problem with which no-one else can help the slightly alarming solution being wheeled out onto the Wembley turf is the creaking-limbed combo of Nelsen and Gallas. In fairness, Gallas has yet to let us down, and has generally raised his performance level in direct proportion to the occasion; while Nelsen- well he made a good tackle against Bolton. And played in the World Cup. And looks, ahem, experienced.

The concern however is that neither could be quite guaranteed to outsprint Vedran Corluka over 10 yards, so how they will fare against the resurgent Chelski forward line is a worrying prospect. Rarely has the absence of human behemoth Younes Kaboul been so keenly felt. However, cometh the hour, cometh Messieurs Gallas and Nelsen. Immortality beckons if they play their cards right. (Well maybe not immortality, but a trip to Wembley. Again.)

Aside from defensive deficiencies the concern is a little broader, in that the whole ruddy lot of lilywhite heroes have developed chronic impotence when it comes to the delicate matter of outperforming opponents and trundling back to N17 with victory ballads ringing through the air. The return of Parker ought to help, and having awaited his return as if he were some sort of body-arted second Messiah, I think ‘tis fair to suggest that we are due a performance of scintillating ilk from Aaron Lennon. Where there is Modric, Adebayor, VDV and Bale there is hope, and, perhaps most pertinently, a couple of weeks ago we jolly well outdid Chelski in all areas bar net-rippling.

Poor form or not, in a one-off at Wembley this could prove quite the ruckus. Victory would not only place us within touching distance of the glittering jug, but it might also prove something of a stimulant for our Champions League push. The alternative is frankly too ominous to contemplate.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs 1-2 Norwich: Tardy Musings on the Latest Debacle

(With apologies for the now customary tardiness – who knew saving the world and getting the girl would leave so little time for the finer things in life?)

The implosion continues apace, which I suppose if nothing else provides a degree of comforting familiarity for us long-term lilywhite sufferers. After the anomalous blip that was the over-powering of Swansea, we are back on the more familiar territory of stutter and mishap, at least in terms of outcome. In truth I thought that while far from our best we did enough going forward to have outscored Norwich – a tad more composure, determination or just plain luck would have brought goals for Bale and BAE notably.

Mind you, if a little slipshod in attack, we were blinking well awful in defence. Ledley, Ledley, Ledley, what are we to do with you now? For years I would vehemently protest that even if only fit for 10 games a season, they were worth near enough 10 clean sheets. These days however, something has gone awry. Maybe it’s his age catching up on him – or indeed all those boozy nights on the town, the little scamp – or maybe it’s the cumulative effect of an awful lot of 90-minute appearances this season. Frankly, speaking as someone whose progressing years leaves me just wanting to don the slippers and stay in of a night, Ledley has my sympathy.

But then again, my job doesn’t involve propelling the mighty Hotspur back into the Champions League, and our esteemed club captain is displaying worrying fallibility when it comes to the old raison d’etre. Once the quickest of the back four he is now the slowest (at least until Nelsen comes waddling along), and that fabled ability to read the game and anticipate danger before it has begun to gestate is a little redundant when he is left hauling to the floor decidedly average opposing forwards. Moreover, last weekend his penchant for calamity seemed to have infected those around him. A sorry state of affairs.

The absence of Parker did not help Ledley and chums either. Young Livermore is a midfield enforcer in the making no doubt, but the heir apparent could still do with a few lessons in the noble art of Scott Parkery. The retreat that preceded Norwich’s winner provided the most glaring indication that the indefatigable gusto of Parker was sadly absent.

So it’s woe and gloom, alas and alack. By jove, somebody somewhere jolly well needs to do something, but until then we switch our despondent gazes Cupwards, for all the joys that will bring.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs - Norwich Preview: Five Things I’d Ruddy Well Like to See From Spurs Today

If there is a crumb of consolation to be neatly divided out between the thousands of frustrated lilywhites worldwide, it is that we do at least have our Tottenham back. When ten points clear in third, it would have been far too straightforward simply to have wrapped things up with neat efficiency and weeks to spare. Instead, doing it in heart-stopping fashion, and quite possibly facing up to final-day disappointment of some sort – is so quintessentially Spurs it almost makes the chest swell with pride, albeit in between the howls of frustration and vituperations of unholy fury.

Norwich are being led our way this afternoon, and it would be jolly pleasing if the aforementioned frustration and fury could be unleashed upon them like a pack of ravenous alien queens, coming out the walls, impregnating them via the mouth and bursting out from their yellow shirts to run amok. Such a scene would be quite the panacea after the frustration of Sunderland away. And while on the subject, a variety of other remedial measures spring to mind. Goodness me, this is starting to feel suspiciously like a list of Things I’d Ruddy Well Like To See This Afternoon…

1. An Early Goal
We all know the drill – Norwich sit back and soak it up, as our lot send the possession levels rocketing towards triple figures, and Messrs Parker and Friedel are near-redundant throughout. All this could be avoided if we score early, forcing the visiting blighters to abandon the Defend, Defend and Defend Some More approach. Score early and I would happily wager we’ll be at least two up by the break, such are the joys of picking off a team that actually bothers to venture forward.

2. Or Late A Late Goal
Birds do it. Bees do it. L’Arse, Chelski, Utd and City do it, so can our lot please learn the slightly devious art of sneaking a late, late goal when we need it most.

3. Play Defoe
As opposed to having both Sandro and Parker picking their noses and watching from afar while we camp around the opposition area.

4. Make A Change
Ideal though it would be for ‘Arry simply to get it right from kick-off, things that are broke do indeed need fixing, and quite frankly the sooner the better. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – but giving Defoe eight minutes against Sunderland was most infuriating.

5. Three Points
A draw away to Sunderland could vaguely be excused on paper and whatnot – failure to beat Norwich at home would require someone’s head on a plate. Beat them, chaps.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Sunderland 0-0 Spurs: “Death to Football”, & Hitting the Byline

On an introductory note, I would first like to take the opportunity to shake my head and indeed c**k a snook at M. O’Neill Esq. supposedly one of the brightest middle-aged things British football management, but who today lent his signature to the Petition for Death to Football. Defend, defend, defend and try to score from set-pieces – and all in front of their home fans? For shame, Mr O’Neill, for shame.

For their part, our lilywhite (or luridly purple pyjamaed) heroes tried the short passing game, but with barely an inch of room amongst the ten-man Sunderland defence it was all rather futile and frustrating. The situation might have been helped by more off-the-ball movement, as too often our lot rather dwelt in possession for want of options (although according to the Sky Sports commentators the grass was too long for a good wholesome passing game – not one for which I can vouch, but so be it).

In such circumstances as these, and the nights of a thousand relegation strugglers sitting deep at the Lane, an option that pops into the otherwise vacuous AANP cranium is for someone to sprint to the byline and pull back the ball. With Sunderland’s defence happy enough to face forwards and head clear, it would at least have been an interesting socio-demographic experiment to see how they fared when turned towards their own goal by someone bursting to the byline. Just a thought.

In the end Lennon appeared, we enjoyed a full 8 minutes (gasp!) of two upfront and the poor, deprived Sunderland fans worked themselves into a state of hysteria every time their lot passed the halfway line.

Other Points of Note
Not sure I’ve ever seen so many passes misplaced in a Premiership game (a product of the long grass?); Kaboul’s ongoing crusade to become the hardest man alive by sheer strength of heading continued apace; Sandro’s abundant enthusiasm just about expiated for a complete absence of finesse; and Brad Friedel will rarely have had less busy afternoons away from home.

Immensely frustrating then, but from now on the opponents become weaker – statistically at least – and while this may well herald more ten-man defences it ought also to bring about some three-point hauls. Have yourselves a good Easter, we meet clink glasses again on Monday.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Sunderland - Spurs Preview: How Many Aaron Lennons Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Just the one Aaron Lennon – he holds the bulb and the universe revolves around him, n’est ce pas? Not to cast aspersions on the young blighter’s character you understand, he seems a most charming young fish (now with added maturity – witness the disappearance of his go-faster diagonals in his eyebrows). The crux of the matter is of course the balance he adds to the progressive part of our team, not to mention the fact that he jolly well adds the final piece to a quite jaw-dropping six-part smorgasbord of attacking delights in lilywhite.

With two games in three days there is fairly slim chance of Lennon and his paper-thin hamstrings appearing – and then rapidly disappearing in a puff of dust and blur of heels – both today and on Monday, so there arises ‘Arry’s first conundrum, while the other usual decisions loom large – VDV or Saha, Ledley or Gallas (that this question even arises is reflective of these changing times), two or three in the centre et cetera. Whatever the options, the facts are that a lip-smacking, eminently winnable final eight games is now well upon us. Wins, wins and yet more wins will almost certainly propel us above that ‘orrible lot down the road (who this weekend are entertaining Man City). If ever there were a diem to be carped, this is it.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs 3-1 Swansea: Tactical Successes All Round

Thank you, thank you - AANP is happy to take the credit for this long-awaited upturn in fortunes, having all week told anyone within earshot of a cunning Eight-Stage Plan to guarantee we finish fourth. As it happens, the first stage – Win The Next Game – is identical to the following seven stages, but it was nevertheless with some pride that yours truly watched our heroes effect the plan to perfection. Perfection, I tell ye.

Swansea – Eminently Likeable
However, before basking in the glory of my tactical masterplan, it seems only right to heap all manner of praise upon our vanquished foes. Employing their ‘keeper virtually as an eleventh outfield player, as a sweeper under strict instructions not to go long at any point, Swansea resolutely passed and passed and passed, even when under pressure in defence. The way the game is meant to be played dagnabbit (note ye well Tony Pulis and any Stoke fans in the wrong part of town). Admittedly Swansea’s almost religious dedication to the passing game landed them in a lot more trouble than it was worth, as they repeatedly lost possession in their own half, but nevertheless, today football was the winner. Actually, Spurs were the winners, but as long as l’Arse lose out I don’t think anyone is grumbling.

‘Arry’s Tactical Success
Having executed a roll of the eyes so grandiose the little orbs almost tumbled out into the hinterland, on hearing of the selection of both Sandro and Parker in midfield, AANP is content to admit an error, for ‘Arry’s selection worked a dream in the first half. With our front men treading dangerously close to arrest for harassment of the Swansea back-line, the midfield selection gave Parker the licence to push up and press whomever was next in possession for our guests. Many times and oft therefore, did we pickpocket the Swansea midfield and merrily lay siege to their goal, and by half-time the lark had joined Bale on the wing and all was right with the world.

Then in the second half, when the scores were levelled and a tad more urgency was needed, ‘Arry gambled successfully again, removing Sandro, bringing on Lennon and switching to 4-4-2. Ah, is there a sweeter sight in Christendom than Lennon scampering down the right wing, jazz-hands dementedly a-whirring, while just over the horizon our handsome young Welshman lingers on t’other flank, eyes up his full-back and lets out a meaty laugh of doom?

Lennon’s contribution may have been brief, but it was time enough for a couple of darts, a crucial assist and a glimpse of the future. A glorious future, in which our children run freely, the lion sleeps with the lamb and the remaining seven stages of our march to 3rd place are successfully completed by virtue of having Bale on one flank and Lennon on the other for the rest of the season. Onwards! Thirdwards!
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs - Swansea Preview: Here Begins The Eight-Game Renaissance

Finally, tidings of genuine optimism and joy. Of our eight remaining games the highest-placed opponent is Sunderland, while l’Arse still have to face Man City, Chelski and Stoke (on top of their bonus defeat to Adel Taraabt and chums yesterday).

Our remaining games won’t win themselves, and in recent weeks the absence of Lennon coupled with central deployment of Bale has hardly helped matters. However, against weaker teams, the formation appears to matter a little less – witness how Bolton were passed to death in midweek by the combo of Bale, Modders and VDV behind Adebayor. Our heroes are beginning to purr once more, and as luck would have it, are due to face a whole phalanx of opponents with track-records of helplessness in the face of purring.

Swansea to be fair are one of the most attractive teams in the division (their manager, that Rogers chap, the next-but-one Spurs manager in my mind), but with home advantage our lot ought to outpass and outscore them. One game at a time and all that gubbins, but the Excitement Dial at AANP Towers has been rotated up a whole notch and a half – third place is back on the radar.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Chelsea - Spurs Preview: No Lennon, No Balance, No Hope

“He’s not available, ” declared our glorious leader of One Aaron Lennon and his jazz-hands. “Other than that we’re not too bad”. Which is laudably upbeat I suppose, but a bit like Sigourney Weaver concluding that although she has looked on as the alien wiped out two entire crews, tormented her waking and sleeping thoughts, indirectly forced her to shave her head and then ruddy well gestated inside her – other than that she’s not too bad.

I do of course overstate the case a tad. An orthodox four-man midfield - with Bale sticking to the left touchline and Walker manfully galloping the gallop of two man up and down the right - would probably offer the balance that we lack when Lennon sits things out, but nevertheless you get the gist. In the little man’s absence we have lacked shape, balance and a clear plan of how to outscore the opposition from minute 1 to 90.

Tough enough against Everton and Stoke, but faced with the prospect of a trip to a now officially resurgent Chelski, the denizens of AANP Towers have taken the unanimous, executive decision to shudder to our very cores. While genuinely upbeat that our final eight games really could bring us eight wins, the current trend of woe, brought about by a combination of Lennonlessness and opposition teams hitting tip-top form, looks for all the world like it will continue at Stamford Bridge.

Team News
Adebayor is also a likely absentee, but other than that the usual suspects will take to the field, start brightly, take the lead, then sit back and ultimately cave in to two late Chelski goals, at least one of which will be highly dubious. I would advise ‘Arry stops his blasted tinkering with the midfield and desperate shunting of square pegs into round holes, but nevertheless envisage him selecting Bale right, Modders left, with Parker and Sandro/Livermore in the centre (and VDV off Saha/Adebayor up the top). Delighted though I would be to gobble down double helpings of humble-pie come the final whistle, I approach this game with the same gloomy air of foreboding that accompanied a Sven-selected England team trotting out in a major tournament quarter-final. Grab what you can chaps, and then scarper.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs 1-1 Stoke: The Pointless Meandering of Bale, & Other Grumbles

Full-blown, undiluted apoplexy does not translate particularly smoothly into the written word, so ‘tis perhaps just as well that after a good night’s sleep and couple of early morning whiskies AANP is now in slightly more philosophical mood than at the final whistle last night, when the denizens of the South Stand took time out from making rude gestures at the Stoke fans to stare in horror and cover the ears of the nearest small child while I emitted an unmistakeable, loud tut. Accompanied, I’ll have you know, by a shake of the head that had been brewing from nigh on the first whistle of the evening.

Mercifully, a degree of perspective has settled upon me in the alcohol-fuelled haze. I recall now that on perusing the fixture list a few weeks back, Stoke at home and Chelski away appeared the trickiest of the remaining engagements. With the ilk of Norwich, QPR et al to come thereafter, a slightly cheerier sequence of results beckons – to which end a point against Stoke might not be so bad in the final analysis.

By Golly Last Night’s Proceedings Did Make The Blood Boil Nevertheless
Still smarting from their ludicrous victory over us earlier in the season, my expectations for our esteemed guests were lower than the belly of a particularly depressed rattlesnake, and sure enough their goalkeeper began his time-wasting routine over goal-kicks in the very first minute. After which, they adopted an admittedly well-drilled 9-0-1 formation and bedded in, adding nothing of value to the lives of anyone in the stadium, and pausing only to catapult the ball Crouch-wards. Little wonder that their unfortunate fans include a rugby song in their repertoire.

As for our lot, the usual concerns wearily paraded themselves. Despite creating our last two goals from the left wing, and generally looking like he had the beating of their right-back whenever it took his fancy, Bale was again allowed to spend his time meandering fairly pointlessly wherever the dickens he liked, as long as it posed minimal attacking threat. The memory of his burst through the centre against Norwich several months back has faded; his urges to go central should now be the exception rather than the rule.

On t’other flank the absence of Lennon continues to have ‘Arry et al scratching their heads and staring blankly at the teamsheet. Niko Kranjcar was the beneficiary of the pre-game coin toss to decide who begins on the right, but appeared to be labouring under the burden of an invisible elephant strapped to his back throughout his 45 minutes. Slower and less interested by the game, he seems hell-bent on bidding us “Doviđenja‏‏” come the season’s end, and has now even slipped behind Ms AANP on my list of favourite Croats. The ignominy.

‘Arry’s England Credentials To The Fore Once Again
The inevitable half-time switch of Defoe for Kranjcar, with VDV moving wide-ish, at least made it feel like we had 11 men on the pitch, but the general air communicated by our heroes was that they lacked width, shape or any sort of fool-proof masterplan. For this our glorious leader ought to take some responsibility, instead of yet again inciting the chagrin of the great and good of AANP Towers by offering the unparalleled post-match insight that “It’s difficult to put your finger on”.

Inspired by this cunning tactical nous, our lot invested oodles of huffing, puffing, corners that failed to clear the first man and ultimately a general mentality of frenzied panic, the combination of which at least rescued a point. However, with possession apparently in excess of 70%, and the usual two dozen attempts on goal, it ought to have been more. Most frustrating, and now that blasted lot from down the road are crowing once again. Time for another whisky methinks.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs - Stoke Preview

So the football resumes tonight, and it may be, for the players in particular, that having another game so swiftly will be the best way of dealing with Saturday’s events. It would certainly be understandable if the atmosphere at the Lane tonight were a little subdued, but the news of Muamba’s ongoing recovery is positive. One imagines that it is not only in this small corner of the interweb that prayer continues for him, his family, friends and those caring for him.

Team News
Adebayor and Ledley are reported doubts, and with Chelski looming in a few days one imagines that the latter in particular is not worth risking tonight. One Aaron Lennon will presumably miss out again, causing all manner of upheaval across the midfield, as standard.

A curious innovation during the brief playing time on Saturday saw Gareth Bale occasionally adopting the novel position of a left winger, even producing a devil of a cross to create a goal. The boy may just have a future on the wing.

It is not the most important thing in the world, far from it, but a win tonight would do our lot the world of good, for various reasons.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs - Bolton Preview: A Break From Our March Towards Doom

This, I am reliably informed is a desperate situation. Quite possibly the desperatest. Handily glossing over the fact that our three consecutive defeats have been to three teams who, for one reason or another, stumbled upon optimum form just as they took to the field against us, the people have spoken in their lilywhite hordes, and this run of form is now scientifically proven to be the most wretched thing in history. Still think we can finish third? A thousand sneering glances in your direction! Forget about our form over the entire season – look at our last three results! We lost them all! People are tweeting and everything! If you’re not bashing your head against a nearby wall and itching to dust off the “’Arry Out” placards from a couple of seasons ago, you have clearly become drunk on common sense. The season is heading irresistibly towards meltdown, and anyone who tells you otherwise has had their judgement clouded by a reprehensible fog of perspective.

“Owen Coyle For Spurs” – Yes, I Really Did…
Mercifully somebody somewhere thought of the children, and as a result we handily now get to punctuate our inexorable march towards Premiership doom by trampling our way past Bolton in the Cup. Back at the start of the season yours truly demonstrated his sagacity on all subjects football-related by wisely opining that Owen Coyle should be lined up as an outside bet for the next Spurs manager, a sentiment that is now hurriedly dismissed with a loud clearing of the throat and murmuring of “I probably meant that Swansea chap. ”

Once upon a time Bolton existed solely to acquaint the ball with the clouds; then they became rather trendy and pretty, stringing passes together and whatnot under the auspices of Coyle; but now it seems their raison d’être is to make a beeline for relegation. Quite the opportunity then, for our heroes to advance ever closer to faux glory at Wembley.

Injuries (That Matter Not)
Poor form or not, our lot should make light work of this. The exhausting and fairly futile search for a solution to the absence of Aaron Lennon is set to continue, the little man still sore of hamstring. Adebayor is apparently also a doubt, and Ledley is unlikely to be risked, but even allowing for these absences and one or two others, elimination here would be an affront to decency.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Everton 1-0 Spurs: The Strange Quirks of ‘Arry’s Job Description

I do hope that ‘Arry’s comments to his players behind closed doors differ quite significantly to those offered to the gentlemen of the press. After the draw with Stevenage he piped up that he knew they would play that way – rather begging the question why he, as manager, did not therefore do something to pre-empt it – and now after games against Man Utd and Everton he has professed himself clueless as to how we failed to do any better. All of which strikes me as an easy way to earn a few million pounds per year.

In fairness, one appreciates his point on the basis of a second half as one-sided as a midfield sans Aaron Lennon, during which we had one effort after another, a string of corners and quite possibly became the first team ever to record possession of over 100%.

The first half however was not the prettiest sight. At one point the commentators on the deplorable ESPN (honestly, I switched on to watch the football, not random camera shots of some idiot in a wig and blue clown’s nose. What the deuces? Just show the football, you cretins) noted that ‘Arry was exhorting the troops not to sit so deep. Well, quite. Pick both Parker and Sandro in the centre and the chances are they will indeed err on the defensive side of things. Meanwhile confusion made its masterpiece in midfield, in the absence of any semblance of shape or fluidity. Bale resorted to delivering crosses on the right wing with the outside of his left foot, and Modders forlornly wasted his talents out on the left wing, while my eyes sat me down for a long and honest chat about the legitimacy of forcing them to watch such a shapeless mess.

Kaboul Learns From Last Week’s Mistake. Well, Not Really
The eagle-eyed may have noted that the goal itself came about when Kaboul charged in and sold himself with all the over-eagerness of a first-time lady-of-the-night – a decision presumably prompted by the criticism he received for backing off for United’s second goal last week. Heartening though it is to see Kaboul living by the mantra of the t-800 (“The more I interact with humans, the more I learn”) he is still a few correct decisions away from being the pinnacle of defensive magnificence. But progressing nicely, and on a day of general grumpiness ‘twas mildly cockle-warming to see his reaction to Saha hitting the post (check out a replay if you can), and to see him lying flat out and distraught on the turf at the final whistle. Good to see he cares.

Defoe’s Big Chance
Elsewhere, Jermain Defoe finally got the chance to stray offside for a full 90 minutes. To this amateur observer he did as good a job as anyone else, constantly giving the Everton defenders food for thought, and generally working the goalkeeper whenever the faintest whiff of a chance wafted his way – nobody else in lilywhite offers that. That said, his next tattoo really ought to be Law 11 of Assocation Football, preferably etched backwards across his forehead, so that every time he looks in a mirror he reads precisely what it is to be offside. Heaven help us.

The Aaron Lennon Factor
Ultimately, this latest minor catastrophe appeared to revolve around the lamentably absent Aaron Lennon. Admittedly, yours truly would probably be among the first to chide the young man should he misplace but one cross or choose the wrong final-third option when he returns to the team, but, as is commonly the case, his value increases in his absence. Without him the whole midfield was reshuffled, to ill effect, and we struggled to string three passes together in the first half. ‘Tis a problem that ‘Arry must solve tout de suite, and the issue of right-wing back-up (along with reserve left-back) probably ought to be addressed in the summer.

More generally, there is cause for concern at our heroes’ recent inability to slip back into the groove of lightning quick one- and two-touch passing, accompanied by busy off-the-ball movement. Bale and Modders look a tad jaded, no longer possessed of so many sudden bursts of pace and ingenuity, which may be a consequence of the lack squad rotation earlier in the season. A few consecutive wins would soothe the nerves and dispel the fears, but at present AANP has officially adjusted the state of its brow to “Furrowed”.
[account-removed] 2 years ago
If anyone's seen the latest Sherlock Holmes movie "A game of Shadows", you will understand when I say this game was lost in the managers' mind itself. Moyes had a plan set right and the players dug deep to execute them, while Redknapp persisted with "go out and do your thing" with Bale on the right and Modric on the left. They obviously didn't. Bale isn't a right sided midfielder, and Modric isn't a left sided midfielder. What more proof is required apart from the last few weeks that they simply cannot function there? Instead of losing our advantage of having lennon on the right wing, and trying to march on with a wobbly right winger in the form of either VDV or Kranjcar.... We've opted to destroy both wings as well as stifle any creativity in the middle. Our main strength is our midfield, and we've done everything possible to nullify it by shooting ourselves in both feet and right inbetween our feet, just to make sure.

I cannot stop but admire Moyes and Everton. They are all makeshift players who've failed in other leagues/teams, apart from the likes of Fellaini and Baines. Yet, they fight. They fight like a team that wants to prove itself week in and week out. Credit has to go to them for wanting this more than we did. They are deserved winners. My respect for Moyes has gone up even more.

I agree with the article on a few accounts though. Defoe has been dangerous, but is taking offside lessons from our other proficient striker. Kaboul has made the same mistake twice in a row, which is a worry. He's normally been our rock, but with Dawson missing again (can't the lad catch a break apart from broken bones? Get well soon, Daws!), we're now looking at Gallas who's had a nightmare season to step up when King cannot play. Nelsen, with all due respect, is not match fit nor is he good enough to be a top 3 defender, even as a backup. We should be grooming youngsters there, not have another player who's brittle and on the wrong side of his 30s.

I wonder about one part of the article. Do we even have any right to think about a replacement/backup for next season? Where have we used our backups this season? Bassong and Corluka sent away to enjoy themselves along with Pienaar in the stage of the season where we typically do our worst. We have no Right back nor Left Back cover. Rose should have been the one sent away on loan and Walker should have been slowly integrated into the team in a rotation policy with Corluka. Our fetish of pace and derby debut scorers might cost us dear.

On a final note, we've seen Modric, VDV, Bale.... All suffer a burnout last season around this time. The lack of rotation and over reliance on them has cost us 4th. If we can hold Kaboul liable for 2 mistakes in a row in 2 weeks, shouldn't the manager be accountable for 2 massive mistakes he's had a year to learn from? These weeks have given us more to worry about than ever before
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
I love those two Sherlock Holmes movies....

Agree with you in everything, Magneto. The thing is, earlier in the season when Modric and Bale were full of beans we might have gotten away with that line-up. This is unfortunately not the case now.
Regarding off-sides, I read before the Everton game that Adebayor had the most off-sides in the Premier League with 44.

I don't want to sound ungrateful because Harry Redknapp has done a good job with the team. He has very much pursued the Tottenham way of playing attacking, entertaining football. However he has also shown that he has his flaws and limitations. So I do belong to the part of the fans who think it would be great to let Harry follow his dream and coach England, while we get a slightly new direction with a new manager. I don't think we can expect any more next season than what we're getting this season. To take us that possible last step up as genuine title contenders, while we also fight strong on other arenas (domestic and European cups), is going to be for another, different type of manager. So hopefully that would leave the frustrations some of us as Spurs fans too often have felt with Harry to the general English football fans with the media scrutiny that follows the England job. For many Harry has become this entertaining character of whom they just are too blind to acknowledge his shortcomings. David Moyes could absolutely be an interesting possibility as new Spurs manager.
[account-removed] 2 years ago
I do not mean to say Redknapp offered us nothing. Like you've mentioned, he's taken our principles on board and taken us back to where we were before he came in from a potential disaster. I also agree that next season wouldn't turn us into title challengers, nor the season after. If we can cement a consistent champions league spot and maybe a top london club spot till we get our stadium, we can truly push on from there. It is possible to imagine that happen, and that's amazing for us with our stadium limitations.

I think most people are starting to realize Redknapp's limitations, and the FA stepping in would give us some money to hire a new manager who'd take us that next step forward. We need someone who can keep egos in check, and who can work with Levy's style of buying players. I feel so short sighted, but I cannot fathom getting anyone but Moyes. A season ago, I was making a case for him to take up the spot as the next manager for Manchester United, so to even consider him with us turns me into a little kid ready to open his birthday present!

All this said, if Moyes is not a possibility, what options do you see us have now? Benitez is one *shudder*. Can't seem to find anyone else. I've been told to keep an eye out for the Borussia M'Gladbach coach, Lucien Favre as an option. What little I see of his is quite amazing. Appointed manager in Feb 2011, saved the team from relegation, and in this season is consistently in the ECL spots. He also could have ties with Ter Stegen, who'd be a perfect keeper to go after
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Everton - Spurs Preview: Bad News for Fans of Traditional, Pacy Wing Play

Four points from our four big games (Liverpool, Newcastle, l’Arse and Man Utd) is a tad below par, and the gap to the ‘orrible lot down the road has shrunk accordingly, but even the most pessimistic, nihilistic doom-mongerers of our clan are struggling to whip themselves into a genuine frenzy regarding our two consecutive defeats. Disappointing for sure, but not much more. That said, the phlegmatic approach would dissipate sharpish if our cheery odyssey were to unravel further at Goodison today. Losing to l’Arse and Utd is understandable, but our Top Four (Three) credentials darn well demand that normal service is resumed pronto – and continued in the coming weeks. Battling draws at mid-table teams are tommyrot now – we need to return to that swift, fizzing passing style, and the games will win themselves accordingly.

‘Arry’s Lexical Ambiguities
David Moyes has celebrated his 10 years in charge at Everton (crikey) as anyone would, by striking a gentleman’s agreement with our glorious leader, to the effect that Monsieur Saha will not feature today. However, ‘Arry has indicated that there is one small caveat to this agreement – in that it will not apply if he decides to pick Saha after all. Apart from stretching the definition of “gentleman’s agreement” beyond anything any self-respecting lexicographer has ever previously contemplated, the selection of Saha would be jolly rotten luck upon Jermain Defoe, who could probably score a five-minute hat-trick, solve the economic crisis and cure cancer within one substitute appearance, only to find himself overlooked again in the following game.

Injury News and the World’s Slowest Makeshift Right Wingers
On the injury front that poor blighter Michael Dawson and the various bits of ligament floating around his leg are out for the season, which makes the return to squad duty of William Gallas frightfully well-timed. If you pardon the cruel bluntness, of greater concern for this afternoon’s jamboree is the absence of One Aaron Lennon and the balance he provides. It seems a lifetime ago now, but once upon a time Bale and Lennon would scamper up and down the left and right wings respectively, allowing opposing defences barely a moment’s rest. These days Bale and his ego roam wherever they please in the ongoing bid to become the new Cristiano Ronaldo, to occasional devastating effect, but quite often to the end of a cul-de-sac. In the absence of Lennon we will presumably attempt once more to use absolute stasis rather than breakneck speed on the right wing, via the heavy legs of VDV or Kranjcar.

That aside, the usual striking concerns need to be addressed by ‘Arry; someone needs to get the crayons out and give the back-four some nice illustrated examples of the causal relationships between ball, opponents, net et cetera; and glory be, Scott Parker returns to the middle. It has been the best of times (Newcastle) and the worst of times (l’Arse) in recent weeks, but champagne football has been our norm this season, home and away, and a return to this vintage would suffice today.
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Spurs 3-1 Stevenage: (Tardy) Ends, Not Means

Stumbling over the ball, chasing shadows and conceding possession with almost religious fervour while the scoreboard flashes the eye-watering message “Spurs 0-1 Stevenage” is not really a recommended means of achieving an aim as menial as making a cup of tea, letting alone winning some sparkly silverware, but more wizened sages than I have it that for such competitions as this the ends will justify the means. Hence, if our lilywhite heroes set about making the quarter-finals by the novel method of beginning a football match by abandoning football, then this is tickety-boo as long as they progress in fine.

For the most part this season has been a rip-roaring blur of one/two-touch play and zippy off-the-ball movement. Exceptions have been rare – Liverpool away, Chelski at home, l’Arse away. To this list of luminaries can now be added Stevenage, bizarrely enough.

While the outcome was never really in doubt, and the chuntering amongst the masses was of the more frivolous ilk during that first 20 minutes, that a team comprising VDV, Lennon, Bale, Kranjcar and Defoe could find it quite so difficult to string three passes together certainly prompted the occasional scratch of the cranium. However, life became cheerier and the quality of football a tad silkier once lilywhite noses were in front. Should Ledley, Parker or A. And. Other hoist that great silver jug aloft in May, AANP will do its best to desist from interrupting the ticker-tape fêting of our heroes in order to chide them for three messy halves of football against Stevenage.

Standard Stuff From Defoe
Precious little of value can be gleaned from a formulaic victory against lower-league opposition, but AANP always cherishes those fleeting glimpses of young Master Defoe. Uncannily instinctive and gifted finishing? Check. Look of incredulity that there exists in the game the Offside Law? Check. Doing just about all that can reasonably be expected of him – and a tiny bit more – in his limited game time before being shunted back onto the bench at the weekend? Check. Eyeing up a move away from N17 this summer, simply so that he can gambol across a football pitch, anywhere, in anyone’s colours, just as long as it be on a regular basis? Oh golly…

Oh Danny Boy
Young Danny Rose, on t’other hand, is fast tumbling out of favour at AANP Towers. Physically incapable of delivering a decent cross with his left foot(where “decent” may be defined as “eluding the first blinking opponent in his way, for goodness sake”), and seemingly unable on pain of death to use his right, the vast oceans of goodwill earned by that goal are rapidly drying up in this neck of the interweb. He has time on his side I suppose – use it wisely, young man – but for the remainder of the season I would gladly see him confined to the shadow of BAE’s eccentricities.

If you’ve made it this far down I congratulate thee. In their entirety these musings could probably be summarised thus: We progressed; the minutiae matter little.



   
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