Looking Forward

 

MANCHESTER UNITED (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 19th May 2001

The Champions have had their title for about four weeks now and perhaps the crown on top of the Premier League trophy is starting to slip.  Losing at Old Trafford to Derby County and then to Southampton at the Dell (never their favourite place to travel to) means an unprecedented two defeats on the trot.  As with all unwanted records, a match against Spurs comes along to save them from further embarrassment.

The fact that the title had already been won means that United have been able to field less than first choice elevens over the last few weeks.  That is why Wes Brown has been knocking them in (his own net) and Andy Goram has been imitating a flying pig in the United goal.  Some players you have never heard of might feature in the match at White Hart Lane and at least Spurs have the excuse of an injury list.  Sir Alex Ferguson has been using a lot of players to try and get them all medals, so Raymond van der Gouw will have to play some part on Saturday to get in his eleven appearances.  Barthez will no doubt be absent from the match and it could do Spurs a favour, because this nutter will definitely try to score once this season if he plays and this will be his last chance.

In the back line, Gary Neville will be out with his injured knee, which is a shame as he is not as great as many people rate him.  Brother Phil could play and scored a very good goal against Middlesbrough recently (his first for three years, so what's the betting three weeks will be the period before his next one ?), but as a defender he still has a lot to learn.  Wes Brown as being touted as the centre of England's defence for years to come, but again, he is still a little raw, but effective nonetheless.  Jaap Stam is a huge obstacle in the way of opposing teams, but now he is out with a hamstring tear, Ronnie Johnsen might play, but his best days are behind him now.  If they are really taking the mickey, they will give David May a game, although most people had thought he had left the club some time ago.  Mikael Silvestre might also be played to add some attacking flair from the back and he has got stronger defensively as the season has gone on.

Midfielders who won't be playing include Jonathan Greening, who has a broken ankle and Roy Keane who tried to break an ankle, knee, thigh, hip of Alf Haaland, so will be suspended.  Beckham is likely to play as it will be a short trip home for him and Posh after the game, with no more important games left for United this season apart from the lucrative end of season jaunts to far flung far Eastern places.  Luke Chadwick will no doubt start and surprisingly he has not been dubbed as the "new George Best", with some onlookers preferring to label him the "new Lon Chaney" !!  His wide play could be a threat to any team, but he is lightweight and someone should get stuck into him early on, if they are brave enough to get that close.  Corporately, unless he gets a new look, he will be on his way out of United, because there is no potential in marketing him in the Megastore unless they produce Luke Chadwick fire-guards !!  The gingers Butt and Scholes could play, but might not be called upon, with Mark Wilson, who performed so averagely for the England Under-21's recently, and Quinton Fortune ready to play a part.

Up front there are a panoply of stars to choose from.  Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Solskjaer, Giggs.  The names just keep on coming.  Most likely, Cole and Yorke will be paired together, with Giggsy coming on to prevent Spurs getting a look at two-times Player of the Year Teddy, before he leaves for ??????  Whoever plays will provide a stern test for our young defence.  One man missing will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has had a knee op and will be out until next season.

And it will be about gaining experience for the Spurs side filled with reserve and youth team players.  Although Rebrov and Iversen are desperate to return and Perry could be ready to come back in, there is still a nucleus of players who are young enough to be there for many years to come.  If they can emulate even half of the success achieved by the United side who came through the ranks together, it will be good news for Spurs fans.  It could also be the last chance to see some of the current Spurs squad turning out in white shirts, so the lap of honour at the end by the home players might be on the end of an afternoon that goes ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  1  Manchester United  2

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 

 

Tottenham  3  Manchester United  1  -  Saturday 19th May 2001

Weather : -  Dry, cloudy.
Crowd : -  36,072
Referee : -  Andy D'Urso (Billericay)
Scorers : -   Tottenham  - Korsten 17, 67, Ferdinand 75
                        Manchester United -  Scholes 21

Tottenham: Sullivan, Carr, Gardner (Perry 15), Doherty, Young, Leonhardsen, Clemence, Etherington (Piercy 84), Davies, Ferdinand, Korsten.
Subs Not Used: Walker, Freund, Thelwell.

Manchester United: Van Der Gouw, Irwin (Djordjc 77), May, Johnsen, Silvestre, Neville, Butt, Scholes, Giggs, Cole, Sheringham.
Subs Not Used: Goram, Fortune, Stewart, Wallwork.


Funny how things turn out isn't it ??  Who would have thought that Willem Korsten would have had two shots on target let alone score two cracking goals ??  Even the bookies had him as the first to score in a 3-1 win at 100-1.  He seems to be trying to fulfil Glenn Hoddle's assessment that there is a player in there trying to get out.

The game started in strange mood with the visiting fans, who had travelled from such far-flung places as Surrey and Somerset, sang non-stop for 32 minutes.  The only trouble being that we could not understand a word there were singing !!  It was said on the radio on the way home that it was something to do with Alex Ferguson, but Spurs fans responded during the second half with long spells of "Glenn Hoddle's Blue and White Army".  Les lead the line with the captain's armband on and forced a free-kick on the edge of the United box after about five minutes.  Stephen Carr tried to recreate the magic he conjured up at Leicester, but the ball flew over the bar this time.   Spurs had been forced into making a change, when, even in the last game of the season, Anthony Gardner went up with Andy Cole and fell awkwardly on his ankle and had to be substituted by Chris Perry.  Even when Spurs had gone into the lead, the corner of the Park Lane kept on singing, which is most unusual for the prawn sandwich munchers of old Salford town.

A corner was swung in and Van Der Gouw half punched the ball to the edge of the box.  It fell to Korsten, who knocked it up for himself to hit a volley into the net over the retreating United keeper.  It was an expertly executed piece of skill and one which was most unexpected from the Dutchman.  His laconic style has belied the ability that no doubt lurks deep within him.

The goal only sparked the champions into life.  Butt rifled a shot low past the left upright and four minutes after the Spurs goal they were level.  Neville's right wing cross was headed down by Sheringham, who rose above Doherty, and Scholes made a typical run into the six yard box to shoot past Sullivan.  It was a well crafted goal and one which saw Spurs fail to pick up the runners into their area.  Spurs then started conceding space to United and shortly after, only a fingertip save from Neil Sullivan pushing the ball around the post denied Giggs a very good goal.  Andy Cole was having one of those days he usually suffers in an England shirt.  His first shot from an angle on the right found the midriff of Sullivan and then a free header was directed well wide instead of gliding it across him towards the goal.  Into the second half, he had a great chance after turning Perry, but was denied by the Spurs keeper again and then when he was in space in the box, he sliced his shot way wide.  The only break in this red wave of attacking saw Korsten break on the right and cross, but Simon Davies failed to get on the end of it, although he did get on the end of David May's boot leaving him requiring treatment.  His return to the action saw him wearing a hairnet with some bandage underneath looking like an old lady on O.A.P. day at the hairdresser's !!  Scholes made Sully dive to save again and at the other end there were some misdirected crosses and some shots that went  along way over.  Then it was half-time.

"Hit The Bar", the ever popular half-time entertainment featured a woman who could not get the ball off the floor and a bloke who pulled a muscle in the warm-up !!  It is like the people who run this competition go out to find those who will be least able to kick a ball eight feet into the air and claim the 10,000 prize.

The referee - Mr. D'Urso - had made some very unpopular decisions during the first period and he seemed to be giving the benefit of the doubt to United in most cases.  A couple of dodgy handballs were waved away with the man in black indicating that the body was the point of contact, not the arm.  Spurs were playing well on the break and hit home their advantage, when the ball broke to Korsten on the edge of the United box.  He played it with his left and when it fell to his right, we all sighed as he usually shuffles it onto his preferred foot before shooting.  This time, he took it with his right and drilled it low past Van Der Gouw.  Les was playing better than he had all season and although there was little understanding with the men around him up front, he was causing the Reds a lot of trouble in the air.  He was set up on the right hand side of the penalty area, but pulled his shot across the face of the goal and he was producing salmon like leaps at the back to defend corners and taking control of the play when the ball was cleared to him.  When Simon Davies set off on a long run through the middle of the Man U side, he was pursued by three red shirts.  Weaving through them like Ryan Giggs at his best, one clipped his heel and made him fall, but the ref waved play on as the ball fell to Les.  His early taken shot flashed low past the keeper's right hand and into the bottom corner of the net.  This gave Spurs a 3-1 lead and the visitors started to get very upset, with Scholes doing his usual impression of a mad person who was trying to injure any Spurs player who came too close.

There was little to report after Spurs scored their third really.  A few wild shots by United players who were desperately trying to get the side back into the game and the fans were really getting behind Spurs, singing them on to victory.  Piercy denied a United break into the box and soon after the final whistle blew to end Tottenham's season.  It has been one of ups and downs and as always, leaves you hanging on a string until August comes around and it all starts again.  The chants of "Can we play you every week" were dripping with irony, but when that chant becomes real then it will be a case of "You're not very good" for Man U; maybe when Sir Alice leaves them, it will be different ??

For some, this will be their last taste of the Premiership in a Spurs shirt.  For others, the new era starts next season.  For the fans, we all live in hope.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LES FERDINAND

Gary Sampson

 

A Happy Atmosphere

 

Shocked and stunned as we were, the fact that Willem Korsten came alive today was just one of the things to rejoice about.  The other was the terrific atmosphere, helped by the Torquay branch of the Manchester United supporters club !!  For the second season running, the last home game has provided the best atmosphere and for the second season running Spurs have finished their campaign with a 3-1 win.  Could there be a link here ??

Although Korsten did little else except score two goals, if he can do that for even half the games next season, he will be a valuable player to have around.  However, he still fails to impress over the whole 90 minutes and just doesn't look like a footballer.  But you can't argue with his goals, which were a mix of subtlety and raw power.  His volleyed lob on his good foot and the vicious smash on his right show that given some confidence the Dutchman could do a job for Tottenham.  With Les playing like the striker he once used to be, they did make a pairing that caused some concern to the United defence.  But Les needs the proper service and Korsten needs to go past players more to make a really good strike duo.  When Rebrov is fit, Korsten is likely to make way, but he could be a useful man to have in the squad.

Another who impressed greatly was Simon Davies.  Even when they put the most ridiculous turban on his injured head since the days of Danny La Rue, he still got stuck in and headed the ball. His passing was very good today and his running, both with and without the ball was exciting - the like we have not seen at Spurs for a long time.  He tried to link up with his old Posh team-mate Matthew Etherington on a number of occasions, but it didn't really work for Matty , although he did put in a couple of good crosses.  Gardner had to leave the fray early on as he fell over on his ankle and had to be replaced by Perry, who went on to have a decent game, despite letting Andy Cole spin away from him.  Luckily, the United striker was unable to hit a barn door today and his shot spun well wide of the target.  All of his chances were ones a decent forward would have at least made a goalkeeper save, but his invariably failed to be on the goal.  Scholes did get on in, after Sheringham managed to beat Doherty to a cross and Young failed to track Scholes' run.  But by then Spurs had gone ahead with Korsten's impudent lob volley over van der Gouw.  His second after the break was hit low to the keeper's left and Les' drive was on the other side of the Dutch goalie.  They were all well taken goals in different styles, but Spurs seemed more willing to go for a win today.  Having won the title several weeks ago, Man U were going through the motions until they realised they might lose, then they got narked.

Sheringham was booed by the Paxton every time he touched the ball and it might not persuade him to return to White Hart Lane in the summer.  Not that I am convinced that it would be a brilliant move to pay a 36 year old 35,000 a week, when it might be able to fund a thrilling younger prospect.  Sheringham plays the game in his head and that means that he does not need to be pacy, but how many games will he play each season.  And how many games will we extract from Les and Dazza ??  The whole point of building a squad is that when needed the players are available.  This might not be the case with these three (and some others we could name).

For the defence, Stephen Carr did a very good job on Giggs, who only had a couple of good runs and they were either through the middle or when Carr was dragged away from the left wing back role.  He even had a wink at Scholes when he tried a trick to get past him in the second half.  Doherty did well apart from when he was trapped by red shirts coming out of the back with the ball and he tried to get out of it with a drag back, but only ended up looking like a performing elephant on a ball, but finishing on his backside !!  As for Luke Young, he did well and stuck to his guns, despite it not being his favourite position.  HE linked well up the left with Leonhardsen, who himself had a quiet game.  Clemence did OK, but has been getting caught with the ball recently - perhaps because there is no call from a team-mate or maybe because of the reliance on his left foot.  The manager and his assistant were both agitated on the sideline and were having regular conversations with the fourth official, but were delighted at the end.

Having beaten Manchester United for the last three visits, it was surprising that this time we did it with a shadow squad.  There was little commitment by the United players, but it was a reasonably first team squad as, apart from May and Johnsen, the rest had played a major part in their championship campaign.  For Spurs, it shows there is a glimmer of hope there, but also a lot of work for Hoddle to do.

After the match, the Spurs squad came around the pitch on a lap of honour.  They didn't come too close to the edge, which was odd, but there were some happy faces there and a few taking it all in, just incase they didn't make it at the club beyond August.  They looked a bunch of players who had a good spirit and they all really looked towards one player to see what he was doing.  Sol Campbell wandered around in his suit and chucked his shirt into the Paxton.  He looked more like a man who was going to stay than he did this time last year.  He was joking with some of his team-mates and had his arm around John Gorman, waving to the songs the Spurs faithful sung to try and get him to stay.  He is the only one who knows what he will do, but whether he stays or goes, the club will carry on with or without him.  We hope he will still be part of what we have next season.  We need him to anchor the side and to provide the axis to build on.

East Stan

 

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