Looking Forward


Manchester United  (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 25th September 2004

It has not been too often in the last few years that Spurs have gone into a fixture against Manchester United looking down on them in the Premier League.  But we are there on merit while Man U have had a slower start than they might have hoped for.

It will be an intriguing contest with Spurs relying on the new found defensive resilience and Man U hoping that the return of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Rio Ferdinand will spark a revival in their fortunes that started with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in midweek.

There are still a plethora of talented players at United despite their mid-table position.  Roy Keane will still be driving on the midfield alongside Ronaldo and Giggs using their skill son the flanks.  Gabriel Heinze is fresh from a gold medal performance in the Olympics and Liam Miller, the young former Celtic midfield man has added his tigerish talents to United's squad.

There are some questions being asked over the ability of Tim Howard in goal, with rumours of a new keeper coming in during January and if anyone is able to test him, it will be Jermain Defoe, who might also figure in Fergie's dreams.  The fact that he passed over the England striker may have made him regret having to spend £27 million on Wayne Rooney, but with Alan Smith in good scoring form, they will still be troublesome.  The midfield has other forgotten stars there such as Kleberson and Djemba-Djemba who might add some fantasy and grit respectively.

The defence will be missing Gary Neville and it is there that United have been found wanting, but with his brother Phil available and O'Shea and Silvestre in the back four, there is both experience and speed.  With the Spurs midfield having to work hard to protect our defence, there might be the pairing of Kanoute and Defoe up front to try and hold up the ball and pick up any crumbs that might drop for them.  Ferdinand is only one game into his return and with that game being less than a week ago, we might find him wanting, so should try to make the most of Defoe's trickery on the floor against his former West ham team-mate.

It will be another tough test after facing Chelsea last week, but one which Santini will relish in being able to pit his wits against Ferguson.  With home advantage, there might be a bit of hope and I think we might just edge it ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Manchester United  1

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


A slow start for Manchester United so far this season, although with a win over Liverpool, I suppose you will be hoping things pick up from here ? What do you think is responsible for the slow start?

It is not an easy thing to identify otherwise I am sure Fergie would have had it sorted.  But there are a number of key causes.  First is the injuries we have had in defence. Injuries with a large squad of internationals cannot usually be excused but the problem has not been having a settled defence. Ideally, it seems like Fergie would have tried O’Shea alongside Keane in the centre of midfield but one or the other has had to move back and that has left us exposed in the middle as our replacements have not been adequate.

Also, with Saha seemingly more injury prone than Bryan Robson in his peak and with Ruud and Rooney out we had no back-up for Smith.  He played up front on his own at the beginning of the season and the problem with this was that the midfield did not give enough support.  There was also a lack of creativity in the centre of the park and we did not link midfield to attack or open up defences enough.  In this respect we seriously missed Ronaldo, our most creative and threatening player.  What all this has led to is uncertainty and instability in defence and a lack of creation further up the field.  Both factors seem to effect the other.

There has also been an element of mental inertia in that our players look like they have found it hard to get going or to impose themselves on the game.  The Liverpool saw a marked difference in this respect and hopefully we can keep this attitude in our future games.  Mental strength at the highest level is so important, without it you will not succeed.

 Who's your best player at the moment ?

Smith had a great start to the season and has quickly won over even some of the most cynical fans but since Ruud has been back he been given a rest.  This was perhaps inevitable given how much he played up front on his own both in pre-season and in the League and Europe .  Ruud has looked very good considering he was out for a while.  

In terms of excitment and ability to change a game it has to be Ronaldo.  The lad has unbelievable skill and never stops trying to play the game.

Which player isn't doing the business so far ?

Djemba Djemba

How are Heinze and that kid Ferdinand doing ?

Heinze has given us something which our defence has lacked for a while, no-nonsense aggression.  Ferdinand, Brown and O’Shea are similar in that they are great ball players with subtle skill, but sometimes a defender needs to give the ball, and the player, a good whack. 

There is no doubt we missed Ferdinand but he has only just come back and will still not be fully match fit.  His return though has given everyone, the coaches, players and fans a boost as it is the area of our game that most needed addressing.  He reads the game so well and is sometimes not given credit for that.  His return feels like a psychological burden has been lifted and we can put that chapter behind us and move on.

 And what about Liam Miller ... one to watch ?

Hopefully!  He comes with a great reputation and all the coaches and players he has worked with rate him highly.  Some of his touches have looked very good but having played very few professional games and coming from the SPL he has occasionally been caught on the ball in high pace of the premiership.  I think he will need another year or 2 to reach a standard where his potential will be realised.

 What is the line-up expected to be ?


Brown, Silvestre, Ferdinand, Heinze

Ronaldo, Keane, O’Shea, Giggs

Van Nistlerooy + Scholes or Smith

But, given that Fergie does not like to over-use Ronaldo don’t be surprised to see him on the bench

What do you think of the new-look Tottenham?

They are a lot more solid.  In Naybet you have bought our equivalent of Heinze.  We have come up against him in Europe in previous years and he is a very experienced defender.  With Keane, Defoe and Kanoute all being fit you have a lot more options up front as well and your midfield has a lot more about as well.  All round there are significant improvements.  However, taking the next step up and becoming a top 4 team will take time.

Seeing as how it is only six months since we last met, the Tottenham side is almost totally different now.  What do you know of all our fifteen new signings ?

15?!?!?  I only have eyes for United and to a slight extent our main rivals.

Which Spurs player do you like ?

Defoe.  He has always caused us trouble.  He is very quick and in his earlier days at West Ham I always thought he would make it and back then I would have liked to have seen us make a move for him.

What do you reckon the score will be?

2-1 United


Thanks to Brian Kavanagh
Red News 


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Mauricio Taricco (ankle); Phil Ifil (ankle); Thimothee Atouba (knee); Michael Carrick (ankle); Sean Davis (knee); Jamie Slabber (shoulder)

MANCHESTER UNITED : - Louis Saha (knee); Gary Neville (knee); Wayne Rooney (foot); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (foot)


TV :
Other countries live coverage click here.

Radio :

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)



Tottenham Hotspur   0    Manchester United   1      (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 25th September 2004 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :  36,103 Referee :  P. Walton (Northants)
Weather :  Drizzlty rain, overcast
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :



Mabizela (Jackson 67)
Redknapp (c)

Kanoute (Davies 30)

Unused subs: 

Manchester United : 



Giggs (Miller 84)

Van Nistelrooy (Bellion 86)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Manchester United
Scorers : -  

Tottenham Hotspur


Manchester United

van Nistelrooy  42 (pen)

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  


Mendes (foul) 61


Manchester United




Match Report : -  
All good things come to an end and our unbeaten run from the start of the season ended with a narrow loss to Manchester United, courtesy of a harsh refereeing decision.

Erik Edman was adjudged to have pulled John O'Shea's shirt, which it appeared he did, but only after the Manchester United man had done the same initially.  The referee in his debut season in the Premier League and looking like he is due for retirement, pointed to the spot after not giving the foul, but on the advice of the linesman, who thrust his flag across his chest.  On a number of occasions the ref got the decisions the wrong way round and it was on this occasion that the linesman saw what happened when Edman was fouling and not what went on prior to that.

In my opinion, the referee is one of the least competent I have seen in the Premier League.  His acceptance that Ronaldo dives (and in the box at that) was not a cautioning offence.  The fact that he was ready to wave a card at Heinze, but because Spurs took a quick free-kick he did not go back and book him, astounded this spectator.  His lack of awareness as to the seriousness of an injury to a player meant that the game continued while they lay on the turf.  It is poor when one of the best leagues in the world has to be ruled by men like P. Walton.

However, he was not the sole reason Spurs got nothing out of the game.  It would have been a good point earned if not for him.

The defence stood firm once more and although Manchester United created a few more chances than Chelsea the week before them, they failed to penetrate the dense Tottenham defence.  Naybet and King were superb in the middle of the back four and although Edman had a tough time up against Step-Over Boy, he stuck to his task and came out favourably.  

The game started almost sedately, with a header at each end from Smith and Naybet failing to make the keepers palpitate.  When a long ball through the heart of the Spurs defence was threatening, Robinson rushed out to clear, but the ball didn't go too far and fell to Ronaldo, who hit it goalwards, with Naybet back in place to stop the ball from getting nearer the net than his position 12 yards from the line.

A slack ball out of defence by Silvestre was picked up by Mendes who drove a powerful shot over the top and at the other end Robinson sprawled to stop a van Nistelrooy effort that shot off Mabizela and then King just before it crept over the line.  The closest the game came to a goal was when Ryan Giggs cut in from the right to drift a curling shot that missed the far post by inches.  

Fredi Kanoute had stretched a little too far for a ball challenging for it in midfield and he was replaced by Simon Davies on the half hour.  Although this added width on the right (initially, then the left and then the right again), it did restrict the ability of the team to win any headers up front, with Keane and Defoe hardly likely to triumph in the air over the returning Ferdinand and Silvestre.

Tottenham's best effort arrived courtesy of another sloppy Silvestre clearance which fell again to the feet of Mendes and his first time dipping shot sent Carroll side-stepping across his goal and just managing to keep it out at the post.  But three minutes later and three minutes before half-time, the goal came United's way with Van Nistelrooy converting the penalty just out of Robinson's reach. 

The break surely must have seen Santini advise his side to push on in search of an equaliser and although that was their aim, the practicality of doing so was somewhat more difficult.  There were cries for a penalty when Defoe hit a shot from just inside the box wide under challenge from Silvestre and Ferdinand, but they did not touch him, just pressurised him into shooting early.  The feckless ref decided to show a yellow card for Mendes' second foul of the game, while Ronaldo had been flopping to the surface like gravity was too strong for him and Silvestre took Defoe down every time he got near the ball.

The linesman at the other end was more diligent in his duties and rightly waved his flag when van Nistelrooy converted a low cross from Ronaldo to rule it out for offside just after the hour and then Robinson made a good block at his near post when the Portuguese winger cut inside to fire in a shot.  The same player irked the Tottenham crowd when he tried to go past Pamarot in the area and again fell to earth.  While not apparent at the time, he kicked the floor in his feeble attempt to persuade the officials to award another spot kick.

Tottenham were robbed of an opportunity to get back into the game when Defoe chipped the ball slightly backwards to Keane, who left it for Redknapp, but the lino waved his flag to signify offside.  Simon had another good shot on the volley on 70 minutes, but it went straight tot he United keeper.  Two minutes later, Keane blocked a dangerous effort from Silvestre in their own area as a corner fell in a crowd of players, but it sparked a mini Spurs revival.

Robbie Keane hit a stroked a shot precisely, but off target, while Redknapp hit a long range effort wide of the mark too.   The save of the match came in the last minute of normal time when Ronaldo played a low cross into the Spurs six yard box and Bellion threw himself at it, meeting it with his head.  Luckily for Tottenham, it flew straight at Robinson, who it hit at point blank range and bounced away as the Yorkshireman had a broad grin on his face.

Spurs nearly grabbed an equaliser as Alex Ferguson stood pointing at his watch on the touchline.  A scramble inside the penalty area from a corner saw Defoe nearly nudge the ball past a defender but Ferdinand stuck out a leg to take the ball away from danger and the opportunity went begging.

It was another solid performance by Spurs, but the moment Kanoute left the pitch, this limited the option for an out ball for Spurs.  With Atouba missing too, the lack of height meant in the first half the ball just kept coming back towards their own goal.  In the second half the same happened, but this was because Man U closed down our back four quickly, leaving them the sole option of playing the pass back to Robinson to clear it long upfield and then it was again won back by a red shirt.

There was a little more adventure when the full backs pushed on to help add some weight to the attack, but the close attention the visitors paid Defoe left him without many chances to show his ability in front of goal.

This was another step in the right direction, as there was no space ceded by Spurs in the early part of the match, as they did last year and the team restricted them to a few shots on goal.  In return, there was a bit more forward movement and as the season progresses, the side will develop, especially when Davis returns and perhaps Carrick gets into the team to add some more clinical passing to supply the forwards.

Disappointing, but ultimately, another learning experience for Jacques' "young team" !!


Burton Bradstock




Well, Spurs might not have parked the bus in front of their goal this weekend, but they certainly deserved something from this performance against Manchester United.

Now, you could hardly say that Tottenham were a fluent force going forward, but the change of tactics after losing a goal to a penalty just before the break meant that the new shape of the team was more flexible in allowing the full backs to push on.  This will be the means of supporting the front men, with the midfield providing options too, when Santini feels secure enough to free the players' attacking instincts.

As it was, this game revolved around the reason for the officials being switched around.  Graham Poll was meant to be the fourth official, while Steve Bennett was down to control this match.  Was the reason for his removal his dismissal of Tim Cahill for his shirt celebration (in line with FA guidelines) and the fact that he was the one in charge when the Man U - Arsenal punch-up occurred ?  And why was a rookie ref handed a top game with world TV coverage ?  Not that he was totally to blame for the penalty, as the linesman gave it; perhaps just seeing the last bit of shirt pulling between Edman and O'Shea.  Van Nistelrooy stuck it away, but only just past Robinson's dive and that was the nearest the visitors came in the first half to scoring.  Their other efforts had flown wide and high, with Robinson having little to do.

In the second half, United capitalise don the fact that Spurs came out trying to get something from the game and got in behind as we moved forward.  Ronaldo, with his gold boots and prancing feet tried to bedazzle the Spurs full backs, but mostly, they saw him off and when they didn't, Naybet and King were there.  The only time he got the better of them all, in the dying moments, Robbo stood tall to block Bellion's diving header from a yard out.

Santini made the point that the ref had been "familiar" with United in the dressing room, but the fact that they were not punished on the pitch for regular misdemeanours makes you wonder what goes on in their minds.  Many have pointed out that other sides might not have been given that penalty ... especially if the game had been at Old Trafford, thus indicating that there is not an equity in the laws being applied.

Interestingly, there was a moment in the game when Spurs could have got back in it, with Keano turning Silvestre, but scuffing his shot into the ground and making Carroll's save easier.  As with Davies' volley and another Keane effort, the power and direction was a bit amiss.  Defoe was denied any space to turn or run at the United defence, with Ferdinand having a very good game, but we made life easy for them with the high ball up to our little forwards, after Fredi left the field.  The need for someone to unlock defences is there and with the rumour factory in overdrive about Andy Reid and now Wayne Routledge, perhaps this is recognised by the management.

Mabizela had a solid game, although he was protecting the back four without the weight of numbers in the United ranks necessitating that, with King and Naybet showing again that they are a very good central defensive pairing.  Pamarot and Edman stuck to their tasks and Giggs was ineffective apart from one shot, while Ronaldo was reduced to falling dramatically to get anything from them.

Mendes was harshly booked in comparison to what else was going on, while Redknapp was quiet compared to Davies, who worked the right flank reasonably well.  With Robbie playing just behind the front two and Fredi going wide a fair bit, this left the team light at the top of the pitch and Defoe struggled to hold onto the ball with few options open to him.

I think in the next few games, Jacques might see them as easier and a different side to the Spurs team might be apparent.  Depending on who is fit of course !!

Barry Levington



Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Fulham 1 SCBC 0 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Norwich City 0 Saturday

Manchester City

0 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Everton 1 Sunday
Charlton Athletic 1 Blackburn Rovers 0 Monday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 7 6 1 0 22 7 19 +15
2 Chelsea 7 5 2 0 7 1 17 +6
3 Everton 7 5 1 1 9 6 16 +3
4 Bolton Wanderers 7 3 3 1 12 9 12 +3
5 Manchester United 7 3 3 1 8 6 12 +2
6 Newcastle United 7 3 2 2 14 11 11 +3
7 Charlton Athletic 7 3 2 2 8 10 11 -2
8 Liverpool 6 3 1 2 10 5 10 +5
9 Aston Villa 7 2 4 1 8 7 10 +1
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 7 2 4 1 4 3 10 +1
11 Middlesbrough 7 3 1 3 11 11 10 0
12 Fulham 7 2 2 3 8 11 8 -3
13 Manchester City 7 2 1 4 8 7 7 +1
14 Portsmouth 6 2 1 3 9 9 7 0
15 Birmingham City 7 1 3 3 5 7 6 -2
16 Blackburn Rovers 7 1 2 4 5 12 5 -7
17 SCBC 7 1 1 5 6 11 4 -5
18 West Bromwich Albion 7 0 4 3 6 12 4 -6
19 Norwich City 7 0 4 3 5 12 4 -7
20 Crystal Palace 7 0 2 5 6 14 2 -8


Back to homepage