|DATE||Monday 22nd August 2011|
Never an easy task, this match, which is Tottenham's opening league game, but this takes on added importance, as making a good start at Old Trafford is not a simple job.
Mind you, United have injury problems, but then so do Spurs and with a midfield injury crisis, it will take the team to perform at the same level as they did against Hearts, but against Manchester United - a very different proposition.
Tottenham looked sharp in Scotland, but it was only Hearts and they will need to maintain the accurate and quick passing and movement if they are to trouble United. Harry Redknapp's contention that the club need to sign three top players might have some weight, but losing Modric might harm the ambitions of the club in the long term, with targets seeing us sell our best player and then scrabbling around for cheaper replacements.
For this game, the same team that took to the field in the Europa League, perhaps with the added Modric, could give United a game, but at Old Trafford, it will be a tough ask to get anything from the game. With David De Gea still settling in and with their defence hit by injury, there are opportunities to make some in-roads, but hard work and retaining possession will be the keys if Spurs are to return South with one or three points.
Realistically, United will probably win the match, with some dubious or dodgy call giving them the upper hand, but they weren't at their best against West Brom, so it could be a close one.
|PREDICTION||Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
UNITED TEAM NEWS :
Doubts exist over the defensive options available for Alex Ferguson, with Nemanja Vidic and Rafael definitely out and Rio Ferdinand hoping his hamstring injury isn't as bad as first thought. Darren Fletcher's virus rules him out and Bebe's knee problem makes him out of contention, but more hopeful is Javier Hernadez, who hopes he may be able to play after suffering concussion. Patrice Evra hopes to be back after a knee injury.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
The Tottenham midfield has suffered with injuries to Luka Modric, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Sandro, Wilson Palacios and Steven Pienaar, but there are hopes that Modric and Huddlestone will be back in the side. The middle of defence has been hit too, with Ledley King and William Gallas out. Spurs hope that Peter Crouch's ankle knock will be recovered in time for the match.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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Manchester United 3 (0)
Monday 22nd August 2011
Venue : - Old Trafford
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)
Kick off 20:00
Evans (foul on van der Vaart) 37
Dawson (foul on Young) 40
Defoe (foul on De Gea) 90+2
|Crowd : 75,498||Weather : - Warm, pitch watered|
|Referee : Lee Probert (Wiltshire)||
Assistant Referees :
David Bryan, Glenn Turner
|Fourth Official : - Mark Halsey (Lancs)||Match assessor - Steven Lodge|
|Manchester United kicked off and played towards the Scoreboard end in the first half.|
|Manchester United :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
1 De Gea
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : - Alex Ferguson||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Shirt sponsor : AON||Shirt Sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Puma|
Some sloppy marking and tracking and some bad decision making in the top third cost Spurs in this 0-3 defeat by Manchester United, as Tottenham ended the night bottom of the table after their first game. And there is a long way to go and a lot of hard work to do with games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all coming up soon.
Spurs were competitive in the first period without being too threatening to De Gea's goal, which was odd considering the hype that was put around in the media about what a dodgy keeper the Spaniard was. Tottenham wasted too many good shooting opportunities to put him under pressure, from Kaboul trying a shot at goal from a 35 yard free-kick and Defoe missing the target altogether when a blocked clearance fell to him in injury time. Either chance being turned into a shot on target would have given the young goalie something to think about. As it was all the shots we had were more or less straight at him and he handled them well in the first half.
With a lot of possession and moving the ball quite nicely, it is perhaps a pointer as to where money needs to be spent that we lack the edge at the moment to turn that possession into goals ... especially against the top sides. Hearts we might do well against, but we won't come across many teams like them in the Premier League. And so, the lesson will have to be learnt and learnt quickly, as the big games will be coming thick and fast.
Friedel had already kept Spurs in the game as early as the seventh minute with a sharp low save to his left, as Tom Cleverly advanced unchallenged and bent a low shot towards the bottom corner, but the American stopper got a good hand to the ball to divert it just wide of the post. Kaboul, who had a good first half, intercepted an early Ashley Young cross as Nani closed in and then the Portuguese winger had an air shot at one cross, while Young shot weakly at the Spurs keeper. At the other end, the under pressure David De Gea was almost caught in possession taking a back pass, but Rafael van der Vaart missed the ball and caught the Spaniard on the ankle.
With 14 minutes gone, Spurs had their first effort, with Jermain Defoe's drive deflecting off for a corner and from that Dawson won a header in the box, but with De Gea off his line, put it a couple of feet over the bar. In the next attack, Gareth Bale made a trademark run to the edge of the box, where Phil Jones took him and not the ball and then showed some unnecessary arrogance in gesticulating to the Welshman to get up as if he had dived. For all the talk of the talented young players United have this incident and one later when Cleverley went ballistic at a linesman when he didn't get a decision shows that there is a lot of growing up for them to do.
in the 21st minute, Tottenham's first shot on target came when Lennon's cross went over everyone in the danger area and it was picked up by Bale, who took it inside and hit a low shot that De Gea held at the near post. The Spurs defence was at odds when Nani put a low ball across the sic yard box and Friedel didn't claim it and Dawson left it as he didn't want to score an own goal, so it was fortuitous that Rooney didn't read it and nip between them. Then at the other end, van der Vaart hit a hopeful 30 yarder that the United goalie took high under the bar. The closest United came to scoring was in the 29th minute, with Rooney putting a delicate cross onto Young's head, but he lopped it past Friedel, but also past the far post.
From the half hour mark, the game became stretched with play moving from end to end. Kranjcar tried a shot when he brought down a cleared ball and struck a shot straight at the goalie from the edge of the box, then Nani tried his luck with a shot that came off Dawson and looped over Friedel and over the top. Spurs wasted a good opportunity to heap pressure on De Gea by Kaboul thundering a free kick into the wall from 30 yards out, when a ball into the area might have caused more problems. And when will he realise that he hasn't hit the target with one free-kick yet. Leave it to someone who can do that.
The half ended with Spur son the attack, as van der Vaart hit a shot after being fed by Bale, but De Gea saved it comfortably, then Defoe had a great shooting chance, being centrally placed, but he hit it too powerfully and it went wide, rather than picking his spot to test the keeper.
So half-time arrived with the score-board blank. The midfield two of Kranjcar and Livermore had done well, without overly impressing, but the way Spurs took hold of the ball and knocked it about was good. We understand that Kyle Walker threw up at half-time after feeling rough all day, so didn't make the second half, with Corluka replacing him and I thought it might lead to Young having a field day down his flank, but Charlie stuck to his task and despite being limited in terms of pace, he did stop the former Villa man getting many crosses in.
Almost straight from the kick-off, United were on the offensive and Friedel had to be alert to keep out his former Villa team-mate's effort out, as Young put in a low shot, while a similar effort at the other end from Defoe, after a neat one-two with Rafa, saw De Gea grab well. Spurs were moving forward comfortably and Bale got a shot all wrong and pulled it wide in the 50th minute and a few seconds later, Lennon out-muscled Evra to go clear down the right, but when he got to the dead ball line, he smacked the ball straight against a United defender and got a corner. van der Vaart went mad and pulled his shirt over his head to hide his anger, as he had pulled back for a pass from Aaron that didn't come.
The game was moving quickly now and Friedel had to be sharp to make a double save, firstly beating out Anderson's drive to the edge of the box, where Rooney hit it back at goal, but the shot went into the ground and took some of the pace off it, allowing the Spurs keeper to get back and behind it. The pressure was building on Tottenham's back four, as Dawson did well to throw himself in front of Anderson's shot, Young hit a volley over the top and then the goal came.
Spurs had wasted a good chance with van der Vaart hitting a 30 yard shot over the bar, when once more, we failed to make De Gea show what he can do. United attacked and with a ball out to Cleverly on the right wing, he had time to hit a cross with pace that Welbeck headed past Friedel, having lost Younes Kaboul who was marking him. it was a sucker punch and with the Spurs midfield showing gaps to allow the home team to exploit, it was not looking good.
The goal turned the game, as United upped the pace and Spurs couldn't cope. Rooney's free-kick was pushed wide by Brad and then the England striker took a long range shot that went too high, before Friedel had to save an over-head kick fro Welbeck that went straight at him. Still the shots came in with a double save denying Welbeck and Nani at Friedel's near post, then from the corner, he pushed out a volley into the ground by Johnny Evans.
Harry tried to go for an equaliser with Hud and Pav coming on for Niko and Jake, but United had other ideas. Fifteen minutes from the end, a flowing move through the midfield saw Welbeck take a pas from Anderson and as Dawson slid in front of him ,back-heeled the ball for Anderson to have all the time in the world to hit the net, with Kaboul not tracking his run.
Spurs did offer a bit of resistance, when they put the one ball into the box in the air, as Bale's effort to get to it with his head put De Gea off and he dropped the ball at the feet of Defoe, who hit a first time shot that cannoned off the upright. With five minutes left, Rafa hit a low shot in at De Gea's near post and the keeper fumbled the ball around the post for a corner, but this came between two efforts from Wayne Rooney. the first was hit over the bar fro a yard out, as he met Nani's cross on the volley and it looked easier to score, but score he did in the 87th minute, as Giggs was allowed time to tee up a cross onto Rooney's head, with more United players than Spurs players in the area allowing him an unchallenged jump for the ball that he put past Friedel.
There was just time for Huddlestone to warm De Gea's hands and he fumbled the effort, with Defoe following in and giving him a kick as he went for the ball, but earned a booking in doing so. In injury time, Nani shot at goal and Friedel kept it out, with Ryan Giggs seizing on the rebound, but hitting it over the bar.
So a 0-3 reverse and it could have been more, but Spurs did have a go and had 20 shots, albeit mainly from distance and mainly not accurate or powerful enough to try the keeper out. The fight of the first half fizzled out and the width Tottenham played with in the first 45 disappeared in the second half. United are formidable at home, but we must make teams work harder for their points if we want to seriously challenge at the top of the table.
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|What you thought|
|Barry Stanton||What went wrong in the second half ? We had
competed while not looking that dangerous in the first 45, but once
the goal went in our midfield went missing and left United the space
and time to pick out their chances. We stopped getting the
ball wide to Lennon and Bale and the United defence had it cushy in
the second half.
Lennon showed how lightweight he can be and how poorly he reads the game. How much longer will Harry put up with him ? Walker got caught out by diagonal balls over his head in the first half and failed to stop the crosses coming in, so I wasn't surprised he was brought off at the break, while Kaboul's sound game was downgraded by him losing Welbeck for the first goal. The second let Anderson run through without anyone going with him and the third saw us stand off Giggs and allow him to pick out Rooney's head for an easy goal, with our players out-numbered in our own box.
Livermore stuck at it, but once anyone gets past him, he is grabbing at their shirt and looks one paced, while Kranjcar did well going forward, but he looks unfit to chase back for 90 minutes. At least van der Vaart looked fitter and Defoe looked sharp. Dawson did OK too, but was left exposed a bit, as was Friedel, who made a couple of good saves, but was beaten three times.
With three tough games coming up, we could be bottom for a few weeks yet and then it will be the pressure on us that will be building rather than any expectation to get European football.
This game was significant for two reasons. The first that Modric had been dropped with Harry claiming ‘his head isn’t in the right place’ for which you could read ‘we want to keep him injury-free so we can sell him’. The second is that Man Utd had a very different line-up with some of their summer additions, and some reserve squad players in defence. If we ever had a chance of our forwards scoring, this had to be it with Ferdinand & Vidic missing through injury at the start of the game and the word on the street being that de Gea was suspect at long shots. Maybe the 22-year wait for a win would be over?
In reality there was a gulf between both sides in attack, in terms of incisiveness, ingenuity but most of all decision-making, with Defoe, Lennon and Van der Vaart all guilty of picking the wrong pass, or going for the shot when someone else was better placed. Both sides looked like they lacked bite in the midfield, and this contributed to a very open flowing end-to-end game and ultimately showed a difference in fitness and mental alertness levels between the teams Man U got stronger, Spurs faded.
Man U’s new boys Ashley Young and Jones were particularly effective on the counter-attack, and combined early on to give Cleverley the opportunity to test Brad Friedel in his first Premiership game in Spurs colours.
Rooney crossed to Young in a subsequent attack and his header almost embarrassed Friedel who was in no man’s land. Overall though at half-time, it looked finely balanced. Spurs had defended well, but hadn’t really offered much up front.
Just after half time, Lennon managed to cause Van der Vaart to scream presumed Dutch profanity into his shirt, as he attempted to cross the ball through two defenders, rather than cut it back to the unmarked Dutchman. This was all the more strange because Lennon usually would look for the cut-back rather than attempt a cross. One cannot help thinking, that if he got his head up more, Lennon would be unstoppable.
Just after the 60 minute mark, Man U stepped up a gear an put some sustained pressure on the Spurs defence. By this point the midfield had gone missing. Livermore looked out of his depth, Kranjcar had stopped tracking back, and there were gaping holes in the midfield and wings which gave the home side the opportunity to attack almost at will. Harry spotted this and brought on Pav, and Huddlestone, the latter apparently not 100% fit. It did help, we now had some kind of target man up front, but unfortunately it seemed to tempt Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto to just launch the ball in the general region of Pav. In addition, Defoe and van der Vaart’s passing seemed to become unrecognisable from the precision on display at Tynecastle last week. The Man U defence kept up a stream of niggling fouls, which contributed to disrupting any break we managed to create. Evans in particular can thank his lucky stars that he was playing for Man U at Old Trafford and therefore apparently impervious to a second yellow-card.
It was inevitable therefore that the breakthrough came for the home side when Danny Welbeck met Tom Cleverley's cross with a well-placed header, then turned provider to provide a cheeky back-flick giving Anderson the opportunity to shape his body and place the ball to Friedel’s right. From this point forward the organisation of the Spurs midfield and defence disintegrated. The addition of Giggs, Park and Hernandez as substitutes, just underlined the difference in options and class available to the home side.
The lack of Gallas in particular, organising the defence for this kind of attack, was noticeable for this goal. The two central defenders looked at each other, in reality, good as Dawson is, he needs organising, and is not a bulldog of a centre-half.
The defence was exposed, there was no pressing from the midfield, and in truth if Rooney had done better with a chance from within the 6 yard box, where somehow he managed to volley over the top, it could have been four or five. I’ll remember the game for the Friedel saves from Welbeck, Rooney and a particularly impressive double-save that justified his inclusion. In truth it shows that Man U had many credible chances.
There were chances going begging for the United forwards, and eventually Rooney made sure with an unmarked header from Gigg’s unmarked cross to complete the 3-0 win.
With the exception of one unlucky moment when Defoe hit the woodwork, our shooting seemed to consist of ‘let’s see if we can catch de Gea out from 30 yards’. We didn’t. Where had the incision and quality passing of the Hearts game gone to? With respect to my Scottish friends, it is obvious that the Premier League champions are not going to allow our forwards as much space and time as the Hearts defence did, but it seemed that our whole method of play which had been very successful had been abandoned for ‘Hollywood passes’ and ‘see if we can embarrass the new boy’ shots. I’d expect that in the Isthmian League, but I'd expect more invention and idea in the Premier League
After the game Harry wouldn’t be drawn on the Gomes v Friedel debate but I think we all know Friedel will get the nod in the big games, and I think that’s right. It takes the pressure off of Gomes making huge mistakes in big games, and sends him a message that he needs to sharpen up his concentration. I am convinced it would have been worse than 3-0 if he had played in this game – so credit to Harry in that respect.
It’s hard to draw any positives out of this game, because ultimately football is about results. You can dress it up any way you like, but 3-0 is not an unlucky defeat.
What concerns me is if we do sell Modric, who will want to come to WHL to play Europa League football? We can see the ‘Berbatov-effect’. when in the Europa i.e. us taking on a good player who wants to use the club as a stepping stone to get to a Champions League club. We can also see the ‘Modric effect’ which is one where once we are out of the Champions League, a player can’t wait to go to another CL qualifying club.
I'm left thinking that if we had taken maximum points against the bottom six clubs last year we would have won the Premiership so are we close?
Well Man Utd have strengthened. So have Liverpool. Chelsea are rebuilding, but they has a strong squad, Man City are beginning to grind out results and play as a team. All these teams have money to spend. The red-and-whites up the road appear to be pressing the self-destruct button, but I have been saying for 5 seasons that they won't make the top four - and if they take the cash from Fabregas and Nasri and invest it in Eden Hazard, M'Villa and a decent centre half - they could go the distance.
This logic unfortunately leaves us Spurs a second-level club unless they sell Modric and buy wisely. I'm not sure he aggro that comes with Adebeyor is worth the goals he will bring too.
I do agree with Harry that we need some 'characters' around the club - some leaders. I was never a great fan of the Roy Keane/Paul Ince type character, but Spurs really do need someone like that. I though Charlie Adams was going to be the answer, but he's slipped the next to go North West. Parker isn't really the right type. In fact I think you have to go back to the days of Terry Yorath and the Paul Miller/Graham Roberts duo to think of any characters in the Spurs team that the opposition were going to stay out of the way of.
The only thing that will fix the yo-yo Berbatov/Modric effect is regular qualification in the ECL, and the only way of doing that is the Man City/Chelsea way, i.e. spend over the odds for players who are coming for the money only and we know Levy won’t go there (quite rightly from a club perspective, in my opinion).
So what can we settle for this year? Fifth place and Europa Cup, and maybe a run in the League Cup? I’d settle for that.
|Peter Lis||The abiding
image from Monday night’s match remains Van de Vaart’s Munch-like
scream at Lennon’s inability to recognise what was obvious to
virtually everyone else in the stadium.
We’ve been here before: doing the simple things well is a concept that continues to evade many of our players most of the time. It’s not the first time that Lennon has made the wrong choice in such a position of genuine threat. And he’s not alone. How often do we see our strikers opt to shoot through a ruck of players instead of playing a simple five yard pass left or right to a player running in or onto the ball in a better position. For a master-class on this see Pele in the 1970 World Cup Finals laying on goals for Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto with a simple, almost casual side-footed passes that eliminate the nearest defenders and present the arriving player with an un-missable opportunity.
The final warm up friendly against Bilbao suggested we had in fact learned this lesson: both Crouch and Defoe scored from passes pulled back from the by-line which both wrong footed the defence and afforded the scorers the split second they needed to adjust their body positions to get the shot on target.
Last night we reverted to type: some good (if pedestrian) approach play but once in and around the area we failed to make the penetrating pass or, worse still, to even conceive of such a thing. And all this against an inexperienced defence with a less than confident keeper. The challenge by Pav which resulted in Defoe hitting the post was one of few occasions when we looked like carrying out Bale’s pre-match threat to put the young Spaniard under pressure. How many actual crosses did we put in ? Less than five ?
Harry also shoulders some of the blame. Our players were tired after the Hearts game? So make some changes to the starting line-up. Dodgy keeper? Start with Pav and VDV. Our manager prides himself on his man management skills so why not take your three strikers aside and explain that the need to put the greenhorn under pressure requires Pav to start alongside Defoe and drop Van de Vaart into the hole to test out Jones and Evans?
Instead we played out a familiar script: Act One - The Reasonable Start, Act Two - The missed chance, Act Three - Oops, we did it again. Depressingly familiar and not helped by Corluka’s attempt to redefine ‘statuesque’ throughout the second half.
I’ll leave others on these pages to analyse how and why we conceded the three goals especially the two ‘free’ headers and where Bale went for the last 45 minutes. And the Modric situation. And who we will be signing and when and for how much.
Why?Because I’m tired and my head’s not in the right place.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Aston Villa||3||Blackburn Rovers||1||Saturday|
|Bolton Wanderers||2||Manchester City||3||Sunday|
|Chelsea||2||West Bromwich Albion||1||Saturday|
|Everton||0||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|Norwich City||1||Stoke City||1||Sunday|
|Swansea City||0||Wigan Athletic||0||Saturday|
|9||Queens Park Rangers||2||0||1||1||1||4||3||-3|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||2||0||0||2||2||4||0||-2|
Before match : 17th
After match : 20th
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