Tag Archives: Manchester United

Thank heavens for Friedel: Manchester United 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0

45 decent minutes, 45 dreadful ones; another year, another defeat and according to Sky Spurs have never won at Old Trafford as football didn’t exist before the Premier League. Frankly we’ll never win there again until we realise that the Manchester United match represents 95 minutes of total commitment rather than as much as we fancy. Last week Hearts were rubbish and we looked decent; tonight Brad Friedel played them on his own for periods of the second half.

We can’t complain about this result as we got in the end what we deserved. Yet it didn’t have to be like that. A reasonable first half performance where we matched them step for step blighted only by our insistence at shooting (weakly) from distance too often. I had concerns that our full backs were too advanced but we managed to keep a clean sheet.

Walker stood down having been ill in the dressing room at half time and Charlie came on and looked pretty decent at the start of the half. From that point United stepped up the pace and we found it harder and harder to keep up. Niko off the back of a decent first half started to go missing and Livermore was unsurprisingly lacking the experience needed against a high tempo side of United’s ability. 

Typically the first goal changed the game and after that it called for a change to keep ourselves in the midfield battle. I felt we were too slow to react. Many of you will say I’ve woken up to this fact at last but then when we did making a double substitution was too much in one go for me. That meant we were going to ask Rafa to drop back to a new position after playing 60 plus minutes which is always difficult and we really went 4-3-3. Had Tommy come on first to shore up the midfield and then Pav later if needed it might have been better. 

Hindsight? Yes, but some of the signs were there at Tynecastle. In that game we allowed possession at the start of the second half and I felt at the time that had we being playing United they would have scored where Hearts let us off and we all know what happens next.

So what have we learned from this match? Mainly that defending starts in midfield and if you don’t close down people properly they can hurt you. But we knew that already and in the last 25 minutes we failed to do that and ended up badly beaten; Dawson and Kaboul did what they could but they need help and protection not ball watchers. Thankfully Brad kept it lower than the 5 of two years ago. His performance was a joy and despite what Harry said after the match Gomes looking on knows how it will pan out.

We’ve also got to have a bit of character when things aren’t going well. How can Rafa complain so much when Lennon doesn’t see him when he shot nearly every time he had the ball irrespective of distance and position. Having gone behind who in the midfield group was asking for a bit of steel and commitment? It looked like no one and maybe this is why Luka wants off. 

Defoe had a chance to get one back and hit a post which came out for Pav to hit for it to be blocked and Tommy hit a couple of piledrivers but when it came to chasing back there was little effort. Lots of possession but few chances created for JD.

So we’ve played the hardest away game of the season and typically come away with an unacceptable goal difference, according to TalkSport the Chairman is away in America, the best player wants away, we’ve no offers on about 10 players we want rid of and, like Arsenal, we can’t afford the wages of the best players. Thankfully there are 16 other teams in our division with the same problem. It could be an interesting winter!                 

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Great Game No goals! Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester United 0

Home games against United are always a lively affair and yesterday was no exception. Those of us who have been lucky to see encounters between the two sides over the years might have noticed one difference from this match; it was United who were working hard to earn a point. 

The tension you feel sitting in the ground during the top games is unbelievable. Yesterday we had a large amount of the play yet near the end Gomes had to come out to assist two defenders dispossess Giggs and then a final break saw Benoit making an important clearance on the edge of our area. The speed of turning defence into attack and the organisation of the team is second to none yet we matched them all the way.

Unfortunately we never got the chance to make Van Der Saar make any fantastic saves but we had three chances which all narrowly missed. For the remainder we tried to break them down but their defensive stamina and organisation thwarted our best endeavours. How many times was the ball delivered into the box only to see five or six red shirts breaking up play and making it impossible to get a shot away. 

This was not Van Der Vaart’s greatest performance but he had little space to work with and two men on him on most occasions. Likewise Bale had a decent first half but his final ball lacked until the killer cross which Rafa put into the side netting. Crouch got a fair amount of stick yet played against Vidic probably the best centre back in the division. It was he who shot narrowly wide from our best move of the game when Modric unlocked them down the right with a brilliant ball to Hutton who delivered a fantastic cross to the six yard line. 

On the right Lennon was lively working well with Hutton and I thought the Scot had a great first half. Palacios did well although he too got stick for shooting wide when Bale was in a good position. It’s tough. Wilson gets slated for mistiming longer passes so either does not look that far or was not confident enough to take it on. Might it have produced the goal? Maybe, but with Vidic playing as he did its highly likely it would have been cleared. Having said that it was suggested that he had been training at the Steffen Freund School of shooting after the second effort which might not be wide of the mark. 

We also heard how Harry had bottled it with his substitutions on the drive home. For me taking off Wilson added risk to the result with United’s counter attack abilities but we needed to go for the win. How risking the game for all out attack can be bottling it is beyond me but we all have our own thoughts. 

JD was introduced when Wilson came off and had one weak effort but as with his colleagues no real clear chance. Our best opportunity of the second half resulted from a mistake in the area and Rafa took a snapshot which curled but not enough to squeeze under the bar. 

Once again our stand out player was Luka Modric. The strength he has developed was once more in evidence and his confidence dictates that once the ball is at his feet it’s not being given up. Yet United prevented him from getting the ball to Bale on many occasions forcing us to switch play relentlessly rather than cut through their defences. 

At the back Gallas and Dawson look a partnership to be reckoned with and are comfortable with the ball at their feet. Dawson has always been willing to try and hit long balls but in years gone by they forever flew into touch. These days they hit the man and Bale is a constant target. Gallas is comfortable on the ball but toughs it out when needed. I’m liking him more and more. 

Behind them Gomes put in a decent performance. He tipped round United’s best shot and made a decent save when unsighted in the first half. I swear he even caught a cross during the second half when before his preference had been to punch.

Last but not least is Benoit. Lambasted by Hansen for needing replacing he had a super performance yesterday. He’s tough and helped eliminate Nani from the game. He works well with Bale and leans into tackles beautifully to win back the ball. One passage of play in the second half saw him make two crosses and race back to win back the ball as United broke to keep the attack going. 

As we travelled to the Lane texts were coming in about Mike Dean replacing Howard Webb in the United line up. He may have got wind of them as when the ball came to his feet during a stoppage he would not pass it onto the United man to take the kick. Sky commentators were surprised but Mr Dean knows how it works. 

We were critical over some decisions at the ground. The Rafael tackle looked very bad and Wilson is not a man to stay down. Having said that the replay made a yellow look appropriate. Rafa was booked for kicking the ball away, stupid decision on his part, yet Giggs was not in the second half. That shows a lack of consistency but he did brandish a number of cards against United and even booked Rooney for his complaints following the dismissal of Rafael. 

I didn’t see the shirt pull by Vidic on Van Der Vaart and only learned of it when viewing the sky highlights. Not sure many did but it was at our end. However, the worst decision must be the “no foul” when Michael Carrick took down Modric early in the second half. Quite what has happened to Carrick I don’t understand? I used to think he was a safe player but since joining United he has not made the shirt his own. Yesterday he nearly gave us a goal inside the first 30 seconds with a sloppy pass and if Hargreaves could get fit we might not see him much more.      

Unfortunately two points dropped and maybe with it any outside title aspirations. I think sometimes we forget how far we’ve come under Mr Redknapp but with this team and our squad I doubt Mr Ferguson will look forward with much relish to future visits to White Hart Lane.   

Important home game in TOTTENHAM: Tottenham Hotspur V Manchester United preview

Games between Spurs and Manchester United have a habit of being exciting affairs but they also – for the Spurs fan – have a bit if heartbreak about them. Think back to 2008 when we battered United all afternoon only to concede an injury time equaliser and see our dreams disappear. It’s been like that for a long time. They’ve been great, we haven’t. How else could you describe being 3-0 at half time and then conceding 5 unanswered second half goals. 

But we’ve improved and beyond all recognition yet we still gave in easily in a poor second half performance at Old Trafford. But this is the Lane and so it is different. The only thing is our Owner may not understand this so we have a demonstration as well at Bill Nicholson Way just to remind him of that fact. Another distraction in the week when Billy Smart’s Circus – sorry David Beckham’s entourage pulled up. But please Say No To Stratford at some point today by at least signing the petition. You can do this by clicking on the image above.

I believe we can win today but we have to be at our best. Last year we took an early lead but United ran out 3-1 winners. That day their formation was perfect throughout and with strikers dropping deep it is difficult to mark their runs as one would want to do. Expect nothing less from them today. Sir Alex knows how to beat teams and Tottenham has been close to the top of his list. 

But this year the list has looked more crumpled. Unbeaten they remain but in a more streaky fashion than previously experienced and aging players are proving difficult to replace. Yet their pace and guile does not diminish and Beniot will have his opportunity to shut up Mr Hansen as he comes up against Nani. He knows his work is cut out and Bale will need to track back.

But it’s not all about them. In the same way that many Spurs fans were complaining yesterday about us having a difficult game when all our fellow challengers had an easy tie they won’t fancy this at all. They know records are meant to be broken and no win since 2001 can only be maintained against a weak side. We’re not weak anymore and we have also toughened up our belief so don’t expect us to hand the advantage to them. 

If our midfield play to form Steven Pienaar will decide not to come here as he won’t get a game. Lennon dashing down the right frightening Evra to death, Bale careering down the left making Nani defend and putting Fabio on his back foot. Modric playing balls to set them free, driving at them, taking men on and linking up with Van Der Vaart. Rafa playing one twos, feeding off the returns and those provided by Defoe, Crouch or Pav. 

The defensive midfield position is crucial and I would put Palacios in for his tackling but instruct him to play easy balls to Modric having won it. I cannot see him lasting the whole game – a card will put paid to that and I think Jenas will be called from the bench to cover. 

Up front is tough. In order of preference I feel it is Defoe to start with Crouch in reserve and Pav on standby. Whether it works or not I’m playing with Rafa in mind so that if Defoe gets blocked off all afternoon Crouchy can come on for his famous “VdV Assists.”

We want this game to be about us and not them but our concentration needs to be at its best to prevent the dynamite counter attacks. I’m hoping to see Gallas and Dawson at the back though Kaboul is available after his suspension. I fancy that Hutton will play but this might be a game for Kaboul to come in at right back  to keep a strong back line to defend the counter. 

And right at the back did Carlo do enough against our Division One opponents to keep out Gomes? I fancy not but I would be happy to see him holding onto the shirt but this is a big game and there may well be several disappointed faces in the Spurs squad today. My team for the day would be: 

                                  Cudicini

  Kaboul         Gallas            Dawson         Ekotto

 Lennon          Palacios            Modric         Bale

            Van Der Vaart

                                                        Defoe

And a prediction: I can’t see us keeping them out all afternoon as they are too clever but I can see us scoring. 2-1 is tight and provides for a late equaliser so expect hearts in mouths for the last 10 minutes. 

Let’s hope we’re happy tonight!

Come on You Spurs