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Entries in yoof (17)


Rubin 1 Yoof and disinterested souls 0

Guest blog by Boxbat (regular over at The Fighting Cock forum).


Rubin 1 Yoof and disinterested souls 0

Redknapp picks a great night to stay at home.

There may have been a notable lack of first choice personnel on the pitch, on the bench, and in the dugout, but those that did bother to make the trip showed some good early intent – Ryan Fredericks opted for short sleeves on what I can only imagine was a brisk evening in Kazan, whilst Jake Livermore made a fine tackle in the opening stages to stop a pitch invader in his tracks.

The rest of the first quarter of the game resembled the trip to Salonika, with Spurs’ youngsters afforded time to string a few passes together but looking unthreatening at the business end of the pitch. As Rubin struggled to find momentum of their own, a repeat of the stalemate with PAOK did indeed look on the cards. Unfortunately, whilst Tottenham’s Europa League attack proved reliably toothless throughout, Rubin soon upped their game and started to look more like a team that had beaten Barcelona not so long ago. With backup full-backs Corluka and Rose both injured, Townsend and Fredericks were left with the unenviable task of deputising in defence and stopping the Russian side’s wingers. Who turned out to be their best players on the night, naturally.

Still, Gallas looked commanding on his return, Falque was lively on the right, Defoe put in a decent ball across the six yard box, and Cudicini made several excellent saves to keep the score at 0-0, so those Spurs fans who cared enough about this game to experience emotions could feel rather satisfied at half time.

After the break Gallas went off injured, Falque and Defoe faded out of the game and we conceded the single goal that, in honesty, always looked like being enough. Seb Bassong did his prospects of an extended run on the sidelines no harm with a needless foul on the edge of the area, and commentator’s dream Bebras Natcho hit a scrumptious curler into the net. Credit must also go to manager Kurban Berdyev for keeping faith with those prayer beads.

Townsend, Carroll, Fredericks and Kane all showed moments of promise going forward, but they are not game changers just yet. Nor is Steven Pienaar (at least whilst he regains fitness), whose energies seemed to be mainly directed towards conversing angrily with team-mates, opponents and officials after every foul or cock-up. I’ve spent the last couple of days defending Pav, but tonight’s game hinted at what many had suspected: whilst he can occasionally pull it out of the bag back in Blighty, he just can’t handle a cold Thursday night in Russia.

Still, Carlo kept making those saves – a MoM performance that deserved a clean sheet. It wasn’t all in vain, though, as by keeping the score down to one Spurs retained parity on the head-to-head. Qualification from the group should still be a formality, though to get much further in the competition we may need to call in some backup (i.e. not the backups...)

A minor irritant, then, but fear not: the first string are back in action on Sunday, and Harry still has his own unbeaten streak intact. Canny fella.



Spurs try Greek. Doesn't hurt.

Thanks to outside interference (baby, missus) watching our 'shadow' team play the first of our group games on an internet stream (10 seconds behind the actual live coverage) was proving to be as tricky as a eunuch auditioning for a porno. Decided it would be nigh impossible to write up a match-report myself. Considering I spent 15 minutes thinking we were 1-0 down thanks to a penalty, I thought it best to ask Twitter if anyone would be able to review. Couple of people stuck their hands up, so thanks to @DDDL_MSainsbury for this entry. I might have another match report available to share too, so in the interest of fairness will post that later if its fired across.

From a personal standpoint, the game (in the moments I caught it) hardly looked spectacular (other than Pav's shooting) but was surprised at the 0-0 scoreline. Did we get away with it or was it a shrewd selection? I can't comment. You can, so go ahead and do so.



PAOK Salonika Vs Tottenham Hotspur by @DDDL_MSainsbury

One of the more FUN things about the Europa League UEFA Cup campaign this season is going to be mid-afternoon/early-evening kick-offs. Did I say ‘Fun’? Make that annoying! After a Kamikaze blitz home from work in the Mini there is barely enough time to swap into my new (hopefully lucky) cup shirt.

The build-up to the game and pre-game coverage has mostly centred on our ‘inexperienced’ travelling squad, which makes a good story but is not entirely accurate. Our starting XI contains Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, Gio, and Pav who are all experienced internationals, as well as Livermore and Walker; who have started 1st team games for us this season, Carroll, Kane and Townsend; who all debuted in the Hearts match. The only real newcomer to the side is Falque, but to be honest I’ve been viewing him as more of a new signing for the first team, as opposed to a ‘developmental’ player. He makes his first team debut here.

The dressing room does throw up some interesting visuals though, in shirts numbering as high as #59 and #60! Out of all of these though I’d be keeping an eye out for #54 Alex Pritchard. I was really impressed with him in the Barnet friendly at the start of this season. Tidy midfielder, comfy on the ball, though so short my mate Easty and I were convinced he was a mascot at first!

Our team prepares to walk out, as the strains of AC/DC’s ‘Hell’s Bells’ blare out of the PA. This has to be a sign surely? My favourite band? Can’t fault the Greeks for their taste in anthems anyway.


1st Half:

Team starts as a 4-4-2 with Townsend at LB (out of position technically but he’s played there in friendlies and the Hearts game). Gio starts on the left wing with Falque on the right. The first 5 minutes pass almost like a training match for us, with our second/third-string side knocking the ball around and coming under very little pressure. Thought some of our shirt numbers were high, but I see that their goalie is rocking #91!

PAOK start to get into the game, bringing down Townsend in possession in our half. A period ensues of the Greek team’s players going in with lots of niggley challenges, repeatedly fouling, breaking up the game. Possession passes back and forth but there are no real clear-cut chances on either side. Our ‘makeshift’ team is performing better than I had expected us to, tidy passing, particularly between the defence and young Carroll.

A word about the Greek fans: MENTAL! Firecrackers going off, massive flags and replica shirts are being waved around in the air instead of being worn. Need to have a bit more of that at the Lane maybe? Well the shouting anyway. Doubt we’d get the firecrackers past the turnstiles? And for that matter I’ll pass at seeing many of my fellow Block 23 occupants topless as well! Come to think of it I like the match-day atmosphere at home as it is!

Kane has the first real clear-cut chance of the half, being released into the penalty area and brought down. Referee chooses to book him for simulation however? Replay shows that contact was made. Isn’t that what the 4th and 5th official is there for in these games?

Almost immediately after this travesty PAOK are down our end and win a penalty. It’s really Cudicini’s fault for coming out and stretching for the ball when the attacker was running away from goal. When are we going to learn not to commit to challenges in the box if the player is running away from goal? Lino (their LB I believe) steps up and buries the ball in the back of the net. He sprints off to celebrate enthusiastically with his team-mates BUT THE REF CALLS THEM BACK FOR A RE-TAKE. Replay shows that Lino’s stuttering approach meant that his team-mate encroached in the box before the ball was kicked. He drags the re-take wide with Carlo covering it. It's still 0-0 and a lucky escape for him and us.

Our best chance of the half follows; we win a free kick roughly 20 yards out and left of the goal. Pav sizes it up and hits a strong shot, which curls up, over the bar to land in the top of the (slightly sagging) Greek net. A cheer from our fans who think it’s in! It’s our only real shot at goal though; half time and a very even match so far even for all the penalty drama.


Half time thoughts:

I’ve been quite impressed with Tom Carroll, he’s been sitting deep and linking Defence and Midfield, as well as being comfortable in possession. Easty told me after the Hearts game that he reminded him of McEachran of Cheatski, have to say he looks a similar sort of player and hopefully can grow into a first-team role.

Gio has been full-of running and working hard for the team. He’s been swapping flanks with Falque, who has looked tidy in possession himself. Indeed they seem to link up with one another well (I know that they’re on separate flanks, but they’ve conspired to link up a few times with Falque drifting inside and Carroll filling up the space left out wide). It’s refreshing to see Gio in the team, last season I felt he might have a breakout year after his impressive pre-season? Was sadly not to-be.


2nd Half:

Uneventful start to the second half, besides the commentators referring to our away-kit as ‘violet’? Very macho? We’re also treated to a close-up of the red Summer-Moon in the night sky, which cuts to the graphic of the Europa League logo…all this time the ball is in play? Let me see the match damn-it!

Our two full-backs have impressed me, Townsend and Walker are both getting forward in possession and offering lots of width, though Walker has been caught out once or twice out of position up-pitch. In defence though they are well marshalled by Corluka and Bassong, keeping a high line playing an effective offside-trap. Impressive for players who have never played in that particular combination before? Charlie has played well at CB. Early in the 2nd-half he tracks back, shields the ball from an attacker at the byline and calmly slips the ball to Bassong for the clearance. Didn’t Harry say he’d never play him there again, as he wasn’t good enough?

Kane appears to have switched out to the left-hand side. Think we’re playing a more 4-2-3-1 with Pav up top and Kane/Gio/Falque supporting him. Unfortunately this takes Gio out of the game a bit; he’s certainly not as involved as in the first half?

Our first real chance on goal from open-play comes from Pav chasing down the keeper and winning possession from him on the right-hand side of the area, going away from goal, he plays in Falque on the right, who skips inside and hits a curling left-footer in at goal. A bit more pace or curl on it could have got us off the mark, as it is the ball goes wide.

PAOK have looked more dangerous this half, more possession in our half but no final ball thankfully. When we attack they defend deep and effectively, getting bodies behind the ball.

What follows is a pretty exciting period of play however. Best described by my notes:
60: Free Kick Pav shoots low but wide. Not enough curl. Followed by the 1st real chance for PAOK; cross from right blasted over. Close.

71: Pav goes down and looks injured? Not good! Not been spectacular but led the line and he’s held-up the ball well. He’s back up and staying on for now.

75: PAOK free kick - left of area. Tense. Low cross but Contreras balloons it over with the outside of his right foot.

80: SUB – Falque off for Fredericks

Fredericks is playing well up the right-wing. Not a bad turn of pace and fairly dogmatic when it comes to chasing lost-causes. Needs to work at getting his cross away though, he’s getting in good positions but not pulling the trigger.

82: 2 good short range efforts from PAOK. 2 good saves by Cudicini. Resulting corner marshalled out of our area. We make a quick-counter but Pav puts his shot wide.

86: free kick won by Townsend – left-hand side of the PAOK area about 25 yards out. Harry Kane fires it in hard but the shot goes over, never low enough to trouble keeper.

Maybe time to make some subs to break up play Harry?

Ref is very card happy. Books Carroll for taking Free Kick too quickly. Re-take is crossed into box but doesn’t beat the first man.

90: good save from Cudicini. More pressure from PAOK, a header off the bottom of the bar! Hanging onto the point by a thread at the moment!

Finally a sub; Parrett on for Gio. This will hopefully take up some time!

90+2: Whistle blows. Points shared.


Full-time thoughts:

The draw is a good point for our opening group game, particularly away from home, I can see the other teams in the group struggling here. We need to take advantage of our rested first team against Liverpool though or 'The Great Experiment’ will have been for nought! Not sure if I’d pick any of this side for the Liverpool game. Livermore, Gio and Falque would probably be good options from the bench for me? I’d be looking to bring them on if we look to be struggling creatively on Sunday.

Man of the Match is a hard one: Livermore played well, unspectacular but kept the engine-room ticking over. I’d pick Cudicini though. Without his saves this would have been a wasted trip, as it is we go back to London with a point from a tricky away game. COYS.




Manchester Utd yoof, Spurs targets and The Project (Part II)

For Part I click here.


Part II

Spooky - Okay, enough of the boring off the field shenanigans and boardroom politics. Let's talk a bit of football. Does it get boring winning everything, you silverware-hugging show-off you?

Scott - Honestly? No. You hear our players talking about it and I think it reflects the fans' opinion too. The more you win, the more you want to win. You get greedy for it. You win the league title, and whether that's the first time for a few years or the third time in a row, it feels f***ing brilliant. I can't claim that the last time we won the league in 2009 made me feel the same way a City fan would feel if they won the league this year, because I imagine being used to winning things takes the edge of it a bit, but no, never boring.

Spooky -
What's the gut feeling for this season then? Plenty of suggestions in the world of blogs and forums that United are over-extending themselves, masking over the cracks with one or two bacon-saving individual performances. It would be unwise to write you off considering that if currently United are considered off-key, you're still top 4 early season. Are you perhaps worried that there's not enough genuine balls deep world class quality in your side to really push Chelsea? Do you accept that you wont win the title?

Scott - I think we're going to win the league every year. We're not looking great right now but we haven't really got going yet. Nani and Berbatov have definitely stepped up to the plate, but players like Fletch and Evra who have been so important in years gone by, have gone off the boil. United tend to do well after a World Cup but it's looking to have a negative effect this time around. If we don't win the league, it's because Chelsea do, but I can't see Arsenal or City finishing ahead of us.

Spooky - So, in that case, you don't face a battle on your hands to finish in the top 4?

Scott - No.

Spooky - Do United fans prefer having to fight tooth and nail for the League with Chelsea or whomever, or do you prefer the 90s when you won everything at a canter, more or less?

Scott - Oh it's far more exciting having to fight for it. Winning the league by a point on the last day feels so much better than wrapping it up a few weeks before the end of the season. I wouldn't say we won things at a canter in the 90s though. You look at 99 and 96, with our squad spread across winning other trophies, and we just scraped through at the end.

Spooky - What do you think the fans reactions would be if you finished just outside the Top 4 and SAF was another year nearer retirement?

Scott - Devastation, I suppose. How would the fans react if we got relegated? How would the fans react if we won nothing for 10 years? I dunno. It's too hard to answer a question about a scenario you just can't imagine happening.

Spooky - Talking of which - who do the fans feel is likely to take over as Manager after SAF's retirement?

Scott - Erm, Mourinho is desperate for the job. I would rather Laurent Blanc or Pep Guardiola, and have battled long and hard against Mourinho getting the job, based on his dreadful personality and the job he did at Chelsea. He spent a f**k load of money but the team he left them with was inferior to the one he inherited. It's hard to argue with what he's achieved at Inter and is achieving at Real Madrid, playing the attacking football we require.

Spooky - Concerned about City? If not this season, next?

Scott - No. If anyone will f**k this up, City will. This is the 3rd year of The Project (TM) and they're not nailed on for anything. They've got less points this season than they did with the same games played under Hughes a couple of months before he got the sack, their best player is repeatedly talking of his unhappiness and wanting to retire, and as every transfer window passes they seem to make it their challenge to bring in a player with an even bigger ego than the ones the window before, to try and battle it out with Mancini's massive ego. They will implode sooner or later because all these stars who joined with the promise of lots of money and trophies will soon get bored of lots of money and no trophies. I think Robinho put it best at the start of this season: "When I arrived, the directors at City told me that, in a couple of years, we would overtake United, but the time has passed and nothing has changed."

Spooky - United have harvested a lot of young talent from around the world, sometimes at eyebrow raising expense (Bebe, Mame Diouf, Obertan, Tosic, Smalling). Are Utd fans concerned that very few of these appear to be worth the money paid? I know it's subjective, but it's a question birthed from the curiosity of other fans assuming United fans are scratching their heads.

Scott - All of those players are 21 or younger, so I don't know how you can say whether they're worth the money or not. Diouf has scored a hat trick at Blackburn this season, as well as scoring against Arsenal, Bebe has scored for Portugal's U-21, Smalling is doing well for England U-21 and has scored for them, Obertan is a fans' favourite. Tosic is the only one of those that didn't make the grade but we got our money back for him, so no biggie.

If we start writing players off when they're 21, we're in trouble. Ronaldo scored 9 league goals in 33 games for us when he was 21. He was a one trick pony, a waste of money at £12m.

Spooky -
On a similar note, who is the best of the home-grown Utd talent (i.e. Cleverley, King, Drinkwater, James etc etc)? Have United still got a stranglehold on the best of the country's youth?

Scott - Cleverley looks to be the business. Ravel Morrison is the next one for the future. Corry Evans (Jonny's bro) looks good, Will Keane too, and James Chester. Our youth set up is really impressive and Solskjaer helped the Reserves to be crowned champions of England last season.

Spooky - Are you worried that you have VDS, Rio, Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Berbatov, Owen, Hargreaves etc to replace in the next 2-3 years but have (i) no cash and (ii) a lot fewer decent young players making it into the first team squad than historically?

Scott - Neville, Hargreaves and Owen hardly play, so that's not such a worry. The idea is that Cleverley can fill Scholes' boots (nobody can fill Scholes' boots, he's the best midfielder the Prem has seen, but he'll give it a good crack), Chicharito, Macheda and hopefully Welbeck are options for up front, Bebe/Obertan to fill the gap on the wing. The only position that hasn't already got plans is the goalkeeper, which I imagine the club will take very seriously after the farce we endured once Schmeichel retired. There will be some money to spend though, if the players who have been earmarked for these positions aren't up to scratch.

Spooky - Berbatov and Rooney should be the strike partnership to end all strike partnerships. Why isn't it?

The casual guide to feeding squirrels by Dimitar Berbatov


Scott - Who knows? The manager can't get the best out of them and they never seem to hit form at the same time. Berbatov and Chicharito is a far more potent combination.

Spooky - Will you stop attempting to tap up and steal our players now you are so poor?

Scott -
We should really take a leaf out of Spurs' book. Levy and Redknapp never attempt to tap up and steal players.

Spooky -
Steady now. Our Daniel writes letters of an apologetic nature to the fans. He can't possibly be underhanded. What with all the donations to the Tottenham foundation. I might as well ask this so we can all prep ourselves for the inevitable knocking of the door...What do United fans think of the current Spurs squad? Which of our Lilywhites would you want at United and why? How many Utd players do you think would get into a combined Utd/Spurs side?

Scott - I remember towards the end of last season and we were still in the race, and Spurs came to Old Trafford. As the players and subs were read out over the speaker, it really hit me how many top class players you have. Probably the best squad to come to Old Trafford last season, no exaggeration. I mean, you didn't play well, but there's loads of great players at Spurs.

I like Dawson, Modric, Van der Vaart, Bale and Palacios but working out a best XI is difficult. Bale and Nani on the wings, and Modric and Van der Vaart in the centre of the park alongside Fletch (he isn't playing well this season though :S) or Palacios. Berbatov as a lone striker? I'd have Van der Sar over Gomes (WBA mistake aside), Rio and Vida over Dawson and King (even when they're not on the treatment table), Evra at left back and right back? Well, we've played O'Shea there more often than not this season, so I'd have Hutton over him. I like Rafael though.

Spooky -
Bale, Modric, vdV…all linked already. Honestly, hand on heart. Can you see yet another one of those Levy complaint letters doing the rounds on the official site next summer?

Scott - It wouldn't surprise me if Bale and Modric came to United. I can't see Spurs doing well in Europe AND retaining top 4. Something has to give. Fergie is a fan of both and I imagine both would be interested in coming. But maybe Levy won't be so f***ing retarded as to send them on a plane to Manchester though.

Spooky - You're breaking my heart over here. And finally, we might as well mention Utd v Spurs. History tells us United will win. Regardless of Howard Webb or lack of goal line technology. We tend to implode up at Old Trafford. I'm sort of confident that we could get a point or even do the impossible and win away from home against a 'Sky Sports Top 4' side for the first time in 400 years. Thoughts on the game? You've not been amazing thus far, but neither have we. In fact, we have both dug deep to win games. So, close game? Dare you predict?

Scott - Given the strengths of your squad, this should be a game to make us worry, but like you say, you don't tend to do very well against us. You'll score against us, because everyone does, but I fancy a United win. 2-1.

Spooky - I fancy a Spurs 2-1. Ooh. It's going to be a corker. Cheers mate. I guess all that's left for me to say is - pleasure as always. And make sure you d*ck City at the very least. Ta.

Scott - Only if you make sure you do the same.


And they both lived happily ever after. Well, only one of them. To find out which, watch the game on Saturday.


The End.



Spurs have nothing in reserve but plenty going forward

So no more reserve football for the Spurs. At least not during the course of the 2010 season. In its place, the club looks set to loan out players and have the rest competing in tournaments and privately organised friendly fixtures. Reasoning behind this is that the club believe it offers a better 'alternative in meeting the changing requirements of our players'.

This might just work out for the best.

Reserve team football can be a little bit of a cemetery of apologetic performances whereas if a player is out on loan, he has to be on top of his game and willing and able to impress at a far more competitive level. I'm probably being a little harsh on reserve team football because for some it’s the only way for them to prove their worth. But scoring a couple of belters in front of an empty ground isn't exactly proving much. Other than fitness and sharpness. There is no true gauge of development for a youngster because the result doesn't really matter that much and the tempo is far off being close to a proper football match.

La Liga have the right idea with their B team structure in their second division. None of the B teams gain promotion, but get to compete with other clubs.

We've enjoyed plenty of success with the kids and second eleven over the past few seasons. It's got relatively easy. So loaning some of them out is a positive step. It worked well for Adel who is a player that has to learn about composure and decision making, something that is unlikely in reserve team football. For QPR, he gets to test out the show-pony skills and learn a harsh lesson that it's not always possible to swan around thinking you are Zidane. Gunter had a successful time at Forest and Troy Archibale-Henville was immense for Exeter City.

More of these kids playing in the Championship and beyond helps them to grow in stature and us in understanding if they can ever make the grade in the Premier league. If they can't then they've spent time in the shop-window and we can move them along with relative ease.

The kids not loaned out and the players who sit on the fringe of the first team will benefit from the games organised by the club which should have more of that extra bite than a typical reserve team game played out at Orient. And please, no trips to Crawley and Stevenage.

The academy boys have already experienced plenty of success in tournaments the world over, although having them size up against other English academy sides was a good measure of progression that I'll actually miss seeing. And now they will have more time to travel.

More trips to Europe and South America rather than Watford and Southampton. Freedom to do as we see fit without the constraints of a fixture list.

Although the article doesn't reveal much at the moment about proposed schedule, I can't believe the club would ever consider pushing ahead with this without knowing that we won't have players sitting around listening to their i-pods and texting while they wait for an organised game or tournament. It will be interesting to see who makes the cut for the loans and the academy/first team fringe places.

So, in essence we are replacing the reserve team with our academy players (without the requirement of playing in the reserve league) and the older players (players on the fringe of the first team or returning from injury and academy players that are best kept close than on loan - like Obika) will play in organised games rather than die of boredom at Brisbane Road.

The up and coming players will be loaned out. The likes of Bostock, Parrett Mason and Rose.

It's a brave new world and makes complete sense. I'm sure David Pleat once upon a time suggested we do this. If so, it won't take long for him to mention how it was his idea.


Blackwood signs from Arsenal, but is he worth 50 cents?

Bentley via Blackburn.
And now Blackwood. Anton Blackwood.

The 17 year old defender has signed a one year deal from them lot from Woolwich. He travelled with the academy team to Switzerland and played in the final of the Tournoi International trophy against Hajduk split (3-0), even managing to get himself onto the score sheet. The only thing I know about the lad is that he can run 100m in around 11.1 seconds (at least he did so at the age of 14).

Other than that, he joined Arsenal from Northampton but has had injury issues in the past two 'seasons'. He wasn't offered a new contract due to his poor performances.

SPURS TO THE RESCUE! It's a one year contract and apparently its incentive based. We'll see how this one pans out. You have to be a little concerned with us picking up another Arsenal youth reject. But in the grand scheme of things, its a non-story. Although it would be nice if he turned out to be a gem. For larfs.

I guess covering this story was just an excuse to post these pictures of 50 cent in a Toronto shirt with the name Ricketts on the back. Yes, Ricketts. Rohan Ricketts. Remember Rohan? I'm sure you do.

He's apparently a bit of a super-star in the MLS. Which should more or less tells you everything you need to know about the game over the pond.



Football. Funny. Old. Game.



The greatest trick Rocha ever pulled...

....was convincing the world he didn't exist.

And what a grand job he did of it.

Ricardo Rocha has left Tottenham having only ever made 18 apperances for the club. That's 18 games in two and a half years of transitional seasons at the Lane and even when we were down a couple of centre-backs he still never got his chance. I guess, in comparison to Gilberto (who also recently left the least I think he did...was he ever there to start with?) Ricardo was a little more dignified. When he did play he wasn't too shabby. Unlike the Brazilian who was.

Quite a few reserves and academy players have also been released. Ironcially, the same bunch I always free transfer when I take over Spurs in FM2009.

In other news today, Damien Duff has been linked to Spurs.


Seriously, it's only Monday. And we have another week of this transfer gibberish to get through. What we need is a true masterclass in ITK information to get everyone buzzing. Something tasty and realistic.

Let's join hands and pray...


Another day, another win

The Spurs U19's are at it again. Beat Barcelona in the semi-finals of the 'Torneo Internazionale' in Bellinzona, Switzerland 1-0 and today defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-1 in the final.

Bostock, Obika and Townsend didn't travel (the latter two are currently out on loan) and we've included four U16 players in the squad (make a mental note of some of these or two will hopefully make the grade):

Jansson, Ranieri, Carroll, Durojaiye, Oyenuga, Kane, Cox, Butcher, Smith, Kasim, Mason, Waller Lassen, Parrett, Ekim, Caulker, O'Neill, Byrne, Nicholson.

Splendid work by Alex Inglethorpe. Over the past year or so we've performed superbly in the tournaments we've competed in at youth levels.

Whether they avoid the black hole between the academy and reserve team football is something Inglethorpe and the club have to work hard at. We’ve desperately lacked the presence of academy promotions in recent years. Everyone knows youth players who excel don’t always go on to bigger and better things. And to see 4 or 5 of them making the grade is a rarity. Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have been prolific for some time now. It’s good to see a foundation finally being built at Spurs.

And equally good to see a winning mentality birthed from the academy upwards. Keep their feet firmly on the ground, emphasis on development and guidance and we might just avoid having to fork out £15M for the ‘next big thing’ a few years from now, because we’ve got a couple of them already in our ranks.



Spurs yoof 'ave it

I hope Bankrupt over at COYS doesn't mind me posting this rather splendid report on our kids win over Charlton in the FA Youth Cup.

This lot are 'the future'. So expect half of them to turn out for Stevenage in 5 years time. Bostock's superb long range effort is available for Kleenex excitement via the Spurs site.


Charlton 0-3 Tottenham

---------------------------Jansson (18)--------------------------

Smith (17)-----Butcher (17)------Caulker (17)-----Cox (18)

Mpuku (16)----Kasim (17)---Parrett (17)--Townsend (17)

-----------------------------Bostock (17)--------------------------

-----------------------------Obika (18)----------------------------

Subs: Butler (16), Oyenuga (15/16*), Ekim (17), Byrne (16), Nicholson (16)

*It’s one or the other, since he’s in the U16 group, i.e. a year below the academy first years, but since his date of birth doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere, I’m not sure whether he’s hit 16 yet.

The Game

Spurs lined up with Jonathan Obika up front on his own, with Bostock playing ahead of a four man midfield to provide support to him. Yaser Kasim anchored midfield along side Dean Parrett, who captained the side. Andros Townsend and Paul-Jose Mpuku took up the wide midfield spots, and both held their starting positions as Spurs looked to expand the area of play to aid a quick tempo, possession game. Most attacks were focused down the left flank, with Townsend seeing a lot of the ball throughout.

In the opening stages, it looked like Charlton may be overwhelmed, much as Sheffield United had been in the previous round, but to their credit, by the midway point of the first half they had steadied themselves, reorganised, and were looking difficult to break down. Despite Spurs dominating possession, it looked like something special would be needed to break their resilience, and Bostock duly provided it with a stunning long range drive that flew into the top right corner of the goal, drawing applause from virtually everyone in attendance.

Bostock’s second was less spectacular, but still of impressive quality. His shot from the edge of the area nestling in the bottom corner pretty much ended the tie as a contest, and the game played out with Spurs looking an increasing threat on the counter when Charlton did manage to construct an attack. Obika sealed the victory with the third goal from Parrett’s through pass and the game played out with Kasim looking to exploit the pace of Townsend and Mpuku (then Kudus Oyengua who replaced him) on the break with, early balls into the channels.

Once again, I have to praise Alex Inglethorpe. For all the talent that this group of players may have individually, it’s no accident for them collectively to play the way they do. They are very well organised, with each player clearly well drilled in what is expected of him both with and without the ball. Inglethorpe’s team play football precisely how, I’m sure, every Spurs fan would hope to see a side play. There are no long, hopeful balls from back to front – this side play with the ball on the ground, alternating between quick, pass and move, football to penetrate, and slower possession play to grind the opposition down – the team is set up to be balanced, to attack and to dominate. Inglethorpe's team arguably play a better brand of football than any first team manager at Spurs has achieved since Glenn Hoddle's stint (and unlike the karmic one, it's proving successful), and you can't help but wonder what he'd achieve in a higher position.

The Players

Bostock, understandably, will grab the headlines. Both goals were well taken, the first a superb strike. Generally though, it was a fairly quiet performance from him. It’s quite hard to judge his potential in this context, because it’s quite clear that he’s beyond this level of football now – the combination of his physical and technical qualities mean it’s virtually impossible for opponents to contain him, and consequently they don’t provide a very useful barometer for his development. I do think he needs to impose himself more on games, but having said that, it’s pretty obvious that this boy is going to make it, somewhere and somehow, barring something extremely unfortunate.

Almost equally impressive was Kasim. Technically, I’d say he’s as good as any other player in the side – first touch passing off either foot, long range passing off either foot, ability on the ball (including one outrageous piece of showboating from a short corner near the end) – and is always calm and aware when he receives the ball. His head is invariably up, assessing what is around him, which always impresses me in a young player, and he tends to see things very early. He also gets stuck in and works hard to win the ball back, which is encouraging as the defensive side of his game is, along with maybe his mobility, one of the few things that would concern me about him.

On the whole though, I continue to be very impressed with him. He improved as the game went on, and really came into his own as Charlton made one final push in the closing period, pinging some exquisite long range angled through balls to the flanks, and one beautifully weighted pass inside the left back to put Oyenuga one on one with the keeper.

Alongside him, in central midfield, Parrett had a strong first half, and looked comfortable throughout in a central role. He was probably the liveliest Spurs player in the first half, breaking forward with the ball at his feet on several occasions. As the game went on, with Kasim collecting the ball in deep areas, and Bostock tending to dominate proceedings the final third, Parrett saw less of the ball, but still, it was a good, disciplined performance from the captain, culminating in a cute pass to set up Obika for the third goal.

On the left flank, Townsend reminds me of Aaron Lennon – you’re not always sure what you’re going to get in terms of the quality of his end product, yet he is a constant threat to the opposition. Townsend is quick, skilful and direct, and if he can refine his game, and avoid overcomplicating, he seems pretty well equipped to progress to the next level.

The youngest player in the starting eleven, Mpuku, had a relatively quiet game on the right of midfield. When he did see the ball though, he did look good – strong, quick and technically good (like a lot of players in this group to be honest, which is one of the things that makes them exciting). Very early days for him, but I would say he has something about him, even if it’s a bit too soon to say precisely what.

Of the rest, it almost goes without saying that Adam Smith was impressive at right back. Going forward, he’s excellent, most notably in the variation he shows in his attacking play. He can run with the ball on the outside or come inside and take it into central areas; will look to get to the byline and cross, but is equally likely to mix it up, pass and move and push up into the box. Defensively, he wasn’t really troubled, and that’s the side of his game I’m eager to see more of, because if it is anything like the attacking side, he’s a real prospect.

Jansson in goal looked good – always tries to catch, and is quick off his line. The problem for him is that playing in a team as good as this one, he doesn’t have a great deal to do. It will be interesting to see where they see him fitting in over the next twelve months, given that he’s already been involved with the first team.

The only real negative from the night was that the centre back pair, Butcher and Caulker, looked a little nervy at times, much more so than in the previous round, and Charlton nearly capitalised on a couple of occasions. Other than that, it was all very encouraging, and I'd say this team have a good chance of going far in this competition.

The Ratings

Jansson – 75% - Assured and proactive when called upon.
Smith – 78% - Always lively going forward, and had few troubles defensively.
Butcher – 63% - Suffered a few lapses, but was generally able to recover the situation.
Caulker – 60% - Struggled with the ball at his feet at times.
Cox – 64% - Hard working, but playing on the left restricts his attacking involvement to some extent.
Mpuku – 73% - A marginal figure, but looked good when he was involved.
Kasim – 81% - Class and composure on the ball and a decent defensive shift.
Parrett – 77% - Very good first half, driving forward from central midfield.
Townsend – 80% Always looked a threat, even if he over complicated things at times.
Bostock – 84% - Two excellent goals and opponents clearly struggle to handle him at this level.
Obika – 68% - Did OK in a role that required him to be quite selfless for the sake of the team.

With thanks to Bankrupt for a great write-up.


Another one bites the dust....

Remember Dag Alexander Olsen? Another bright young thing signed to our academy that has now been sold on and is scoring goals (be it in friendly) for Valencia. I guess either these kids we sign are just not very good in the first place or perhaps don't develop all that well. Or we fail to develop them. It's happened with plenty of kids, all shifted out of the club faster than you can say Owen Price. Blondel, Ziegler, Hamdauoi (the latter banging in the goals in Eredivisie at the minute). Not that any of them are breaking into international football (to be fair, Blondel has been capped a couple of times). In fact Jonathan is probably a prime example of how not to develop a young player.

Now Tomas Pekhart looks set to move on. I guess our delusions stretch back all the way to the youth team because I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who has been given the chance to break into the first team. Ledley King the only noteworthy success of recent times.

Our current academy side, as noted a few times here in the past is more than decent with several talented youngsters. Best to completely ignore/forget about them and then be pleasantly surprised if one manages to get onto the subs bench 5 years from now.

For the record, I have no idea when Dag left Spurs. Could have been months back.


Two Lions

Great to see England finding a decent stride in their qualifying group. 4 wins on the trot. Rooney on fire. Even our U-21's are doing the business, with Huddlestone and O'Hara instrumental, helping to get us past Wales. All-action Hudd managing to score from a free-kick and get sent off. Whether either ever make the grade to the first team (England) proper is altogether another thing (which you can file under 'hardly bloody likely').

As for our reserves, with Taarabt, frustratingly good one second, inexperienced imp the next and Bostock smacking the goals in for the academy - I'd like to think we'll make some use of the 7 subs on the bench rule to blood some of forgotten Spurs kids.

All this on the assumption that if they're good enough then they should play a part. But are they anywhere near good enough and is selecting them for a team thats struggling the wrong time to do so?

Bostock is three years younger than Hoddle was when he made his debut for Spurs (in another desperate season from our past). Taarabt is possibly the wrong type of player required at the moment. In fact, talking about the youth players as options is as desperate as hoping Ghaly might make a return to the squad. We need our experienced costly players to finally show their class.

Huddlestone and O'Hara on will probably be involved this weekend - unless Ramos prefers Zokora in the middle. O'Hara, would give us some much needed bite compared to Zokora who will just run around without any end product. Hudd is likely to be an impact sub if he plays any part.

If we ever start winning games again then maybe the likes of Bostock and Taarabt will be given an opportunity but the general form of the first team regulars and their attempts to reclaim some confidence and class is a tad more important.


Yoof! A critical look back at a history of discontent

All the hope for the current crop of academy players should include a disclaimer: Players unlikely to succeed at top level.

We’ve seen so many came and go and its asking for a miracle, an epic fluke (akin to what Man Utd had with their group of kids in the mid-90’s) to find yourself seeing more than three of our kids making the first team and then international football.

Our development has been crap, no question. The moment we do see a reserve player promoted, we automatically believe they will be a major success. Instead, they turn out to be shit. The problem is that because some of them are homebred and come through the youth and reserve teams there’s a hope they will achieve greatness because out of desperation we want someone to come through the ranks.

Here are several reminders of why we should not get too excited just yet:

Nick Barmby

Tottenham’s and England’s answer to Peter Beardsley, without the burden of that face and hunchback. Has had an ok career without ever excelling. Left Spurs because he wanted to return to the North of England. As a young lad looked exceptional, but hardly set the world on fire. Now at Hull and could be playing Prem football again next season if they overcome Bristol City.

Andy Turner

Could dribble a little. That’s about it.

Darren Caskey

A perfect example of how under 18’s don’t always continue to progress onwards and upwards. He kept Scholes out of most of the junior England sides. An England U18 Captain. Never anything more than that.

S*l Campbell

The one success we have stabs us in the back.

Ian Walker

Another player that fooled his way into the England set-up. Became a liability much like Robinson has become. Anyone who smiles when they’ve conceded a goal can’t be trusted.

Stephen Carr

Left Spurs to go to Newcastle for European football. Genius. Great going forward, not so great defending. People remember that goal against Man Utd. The thing is, when all you can do is remember the odd goal that usually means they did fuck all else.

Steffen Iversen

Klinsmann once said he was the new Klinsmann. Footballers are a bunch of piss-takers at the best of times. Never once showed any suggestion of progressing yet we all just sat about and waited for him to become a decent player.

Jonathan Blondel

A bit of a lightweight, but here’s the problem. Blondel had talent. Nowhere near the level some Spurs fans and Pleat would have you know. But the club completely mis-managed the lad. Hardly played, when he did it was out of position. He managed to escape. Has apparently turned into a half-decen player. Strong (looks like he beefed up) and with an excellent range of passing. All it took was for him to fly out of N17.

Reto Ziegler

Looked quite good on occasions but obviously must have flattered to deceive as whatever he was doing on the training pitch led to him being dropped, loaned out and sold. Was 18 when he went straight into the team. Cue plenty of ‘WORLD CLASS’ comments and other ridiculous statements.

Johnnie Jackson

Jackson for England indeed. Perfect example of how mediocrity at the club blinds the supporters to the truth. Jackson was shit. No fault of his own for being selected but he is a Championship player at best. And that’s been well proven since his departure. This is the typical standard of ‘quality’ we produce.

Dean Marney

Scoring two goals in that game against Everton more or less acted like several nails in the coffin. He was a bit beefy therefore we got the Gascoigne comparisons. Or maybe that was Mark Yates. I forget. Marney again is an example of players we produce that are not good enough for the first team yet we stick them in it.

Doesn’t make great reading.



The Spurs kids have done it again, another final, and another piece of silverware. 2-1 against Sporting Lisbon in the Tournoi International de Football de Monthey in Switzerland on Sunday.

That's three major youth tournament finals this season (we won the the Eurofoot in Belgium in August and were runners-up in the Dusseldorf International in March).

The team:

Spurs: Button, Smith, Hutchins, Kasim, Martin, Butcher, Rose (Hutton, 45), Livermore, Pekhart (Olsen, 65), Mason, Townsend. Unused subs: Jansson, Mtandari, Obika, Fraser-Allen.

Pekhart, Olsen, Rose, Townsend.....Hopefully this lot will save us a few bob in the transfer market. Unless Damien 'Chequebook' Comolli spots another £16M bargin.