Looking Forward



Premier League

Sunday 27th April 2003

The Devil and the deep blue sea will be interested watchers of this match on Sunday.  Spurs fans will be somewhere in the middle - vacillitating between one and the other.

For realists, there is little chance of Tottenham beating Man U on the form of their recent games.  A crushing defeat by Manchester City and a narrow win over West Bromwich Albion leaves Spurs off the pace for a UEFA Cup place in the Premier League, but Manchester United are fresh from scoring four against Real Madrid in a Champions League quarter final.  The evident gap between the two sides is clear, with the opposing squad containing a list of international players who cant all get into the side.

Barthez might be the weak link, but on his day, he can be an effective keeper, while Brown, the Nevilles, Rio Ferdinand, Mikael Silvestre, John O'Shea and Laurent Blanc all vie for places in the defence.  Whichever formation plays, there is strength in the four for the defensive places and even though the Nevilles might be the lesser of the players available, they become better players when part of the whole.

Midfield is a minefield of top players, with Veron, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Keane, Fortune and Butt - all players which are hard working and also skillful in equal parts.  Against our mainly pedestrian opponents, they might find the space and movement that they did in the second half of the corresponding fixture last season.

When the ball gets forward, there will be Solskjaer, van Nistelrooy and Forlan to stick the ball away.  The first two are deadly win the box (and out of it come to that), while the Uruguayan is getting there.

The first half performance of last season by Spurs was electric, but at half time there was always the feeling that they would come back.  Having put four past Liverpool (and their ten men for most of the game), six past Newcastle and even the four on Wednesday despite losing on aggregate, you get the inkling that they are coming into their best form of the season, just at the right time.

Spurs might be without Richards, although his removal from the Albion match was a precaution and Redknapp might feature, although it would be most likely from the bench rather than as a starter.

Tottenham will have to fight hard to establish a right to play.  On the matches we have seen recently, it could be that they might be fighting a losing battle.

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  1    Manchester United  3

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

Coverage :

TV : - Live on Sky Sports One (Programme starts 15.00 p.m.  Kick off - 16.05 p.m.)
Radio : - TalkSport  (1089 MW)



Tottenham   0       Manchester United    2     (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League
Sunday 27th April 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  16.05 p.m.
Weather : -  Warm, bright, some cloud
Referee : -  J. Winter (Whitley Bay)
Crowd : -  36,073
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Taricco, King, Richards (Gardner 31); Poyet, Toda (Bunjevcevic 78), Davies, Etherington (Iversen 78); Sheringham, Keane
Unused subs: Sullivan, Acimovic

Manchester United : - Carroll; O'Shea, Brown (G Neville 55), Ferdinand, Silvestre; Beckham, Keane, Scholes (Fortune 72), Giggs; Van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer
Unused subs: Ricardo, Blanc, Forlan

Colours : -  
Tottenham  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with navy blue turnover

Manchester United -  Red shirts, white shorts, black socks with white turnover

Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Manchester United -   Scholes 69, van Nistelrooy 90

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Manchester United -  None

If ever a game was lost and some good came out of it, then this was it.  Losing to Manchester United these days is no sin, with the rampant charge they are on heading towards the Premier League title, this was one game that we were glad to come out of with our goal difference not hit too hard.

From the first minute to the last Ruud van Nistelrooy was a thorn in our side.  Within seconds of the kick off he was through the middle of the Tottenham team and thrashing a shot which Keller did very well to palm away.  It was only in the last minute of the game that he managed to get the ball past the American keeper, thanks to a smart pass from Quentin Fortune and make the score 2-0.

In between, the match was like a private battle between the striker and the goalie to see who would finish on top.  Headers, shots, attempts to dribble around him, Keller had stopped them all in the first half.  Spurs had showed little in terms of efforts on goal and Poyet's long range shot, along with Richards' header (before he had to leave the pitch with an injury) made Carroll save and watch go wide.

While Keller was denying van Nistelrooy and Giggs in the first half, he started the second in similar manner with a tip over from a fierce Solskjaer drive.  The Norwegian was being given a rough time by Carr, who was obviously upset that his mate Campbell had been dismissed for an elbow on the United man.  Kasey also had the benefit of the defence protecting him with some good blocking of shots from Giggs and Scholes, before Spurs decided to go into attack mode and King hooked a shot across goal after Beckham headed the ball straight to him on the edge of the box.

The first United goal came as a result of Toda's errant pass on the halfway line.  Before you could blink, the ball had been fed from Beckham through Scholes to Giggs, who crossed for the little ginger midfielder to get his head on the end of it and nod past Keller.  It was a swift move that United are famed for and emphasised the lack of pace in the Tottenham side.  Every time we got an opportunity to break away, the ball seemed to take an eternity to move forward.  Toda had an accomplished game, but reserves himself to short passes (mainly sideways) and his movement is limited by his pace, which was cruelly exposed against the Manchester United midfield.

Poyet flashed a header past the post from a Carr cross as Tottenham strove to find a reply, but in added time it became 2-0.  Gardner had already sliced a clearance high into the air at the Park Lane end, which Giggs volleyed powerfully at goal, only for Keller to stop with his legs, but with the 90 minutes up, Fortune threaded a pass through for van Nistelrooy to finally beat Kasey.  It was a poor goal to concede, as players were contesting a throw-in they believed they should have had (but the ball did not cross the line) and were out of position.  Keller booted the ball high into the West Stand in frustration.

The team looked as though they had taken on the hopes of many Spurs fans who weren't bothered if the team lost.  Teddy almost got on the end of his famous corner routine, except it was at his own end and he was on the end of a Beckham corner, just missing the post by a couple of feet.   The rest of his contribution was instantly forgettable, but much an be said of the rest of the team.  Carr enjoyed his battle with Solskjaer, Davies worked hard to get forward and King was solid apart from one blooper, where the ball slid under his foot to let van Nistelrooy in.  Gardner also suffered from that problem and nearly let him have a free run in on goal, when trying to leave the ball for Keller.

Taricco got involved (what a surprise) in off the ball tussles, Etherington showed some good pace, but failed to beat his man all game and Poyet ran about in midfield, making challenges which were never going to win the ball, although he did get into the box on a couple of occasions.  Robbie Keane was trying, but with little quality service, he struggled to feed off the scraps that came his way.  When Iversen came on, he ran about a bit and made little impression apart from nodding down for Bunjy to fall over in the area.

So, one more away game and one more home game, then it is forking out big money for next season's installment.  Is that something to look forward to ??



Kirk Hammerton




Having read the newspaper reports of yesterday's match, I would have thought there would be an FA inquiry of Grobelaar proportions into our 0-2 defeat by Manchester United.  The inkies didn't seem that concerned when we lost 0-2 to Manchester City.  And let's put this into perspective, United have beaten better teams than us lately with more goals scored, so why do we attract more disdain than others from the Press ?

Is it because we have nothing left to play for and therefore, losing to Manchester United isn't as bad as all that if it means that Arsenal don't win the title ?  Were Bolton supposed to roll over for the Gooners ?  And because they didn't, they don't attract half as much vitriol as we have.

To do well against United you have to earn the right to play and that means working harder than them.  More mobile teams such as Newcastle and Arsenal failed to out-run them and Liverpool were over-run when Hyypia was sent off in the fourth minute.  So our old legs and a few raw recruits were going to have their work cut out on Sunday.

Manchester United looked almost disinterested in the first half, despite creating all the opportunities.  Van Nistelrooy had the bulk of them and Keller was at his best to deny him time and time again.  It looked as though they believed it was only a question of time before they scored and while that was true, it probably took longer than they imagined, leading to a few nasty incidents.  Beckham took to diving like the girl in the alice band that he is and trying to get Taricco booked (at the very least); Roy Keane, unable to operate as he would wish after his operation, started taking his frustration out on namesake Robbie; while Quentin Fortune was fortunate to get away with a push in Taricco's chest that sent him sprawling.  Not that it would have mattered, as Jeff Winter was determined not to book anyone, even Scholes for blatant encroachment at a free-kick and Sylvestre, who scythed Keano down from behind - a straight yellow card offence.  Sam Allardyce should watch some of our games and then he would have something to moan about !!

The second half was almost boring with little to thrill, after the first half battle between Keller and the Dutch striker.  When the goal did come, there was little reaction from the Tottenham crowd, except the refrain of "Are You Watching Arsenal ??"  The second was coming for a while too and Ruud finally got his reward with a neat finish from close range.  The only real threat had come from Gus Poyet, who hit a drive that kept low and made Roy Carroll dive in the first half and a glancing header that flashed past the post in the second.

It wasn't that we were outclassed, more that our season-long failings were exposed by a far better team.  If the paper writers had wanted to slam Spurs they should have done so after Middlesbrough or Man. City at home or Sunderland (or many others) away from the Lane.  Wyart predicted a 1-3 defeat at the top of this page and the margin of defeat was right even if the accuracy of the score was off target.  

Yes, we settled for that, as, realistically, few Spurs fans thought we would win.  That is not being fickle, that is facing up to facts.  Journalists come and watch a few games each season and think they have the right to tell us about how our team is doing.  Well, we know better than most that we are not top drawer.  Some of us seem to know better than the manager where the faults lie with the side and how they are best addressed.  This game was nothing out of the ordinary.  Why did they think we would produce a Bolton like performance, when we can't even do that against Bolton ??  As far as I am concerned, the sports writers are lazy in going for the easy story instead of looking behind the result.  There are things that go on in football that don't make the papers, but that is because certain clubs are the media darlings and each paper has it's favourite teams.  None, not even the London papers support the club with good news stories.  Some just seem to revel in the bad news they can print about Tottenham Hotspur, while teams like Chelsea are all shiny and bright, with their skeletons neatly tucked away in the cupboards.  Well, stuff them.  When (however long that might take) we get into a reasonable position and start challenging for things, we should just blank them all, because they will then want to know the club and hanker for every juicy tit-bit that is on offer.

Perhaps the journos will slag Real for accepting a 3-4 defeat in the Champions League match last week instead of going all out for a win. 

Don't believe what you read !!

Mikey Dixon



Other scores this midweek :
Birmingham City 3 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 2 SCBC 1 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Fulham 1 Saturday


2 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 3 Saturday
Manchester City 0 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
WBA 0 Liverpool 6 Saturday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Manchester United 36 23 8 5 68 31 77
2 Arsenal 35 21 9 5 73 38 72
3 Newcastle United 36 20 5 11 60 46 65
4 Chelsea 36 18 10 8 66 36 64
5 Liverpool 36 18 10 8 59 37 64
6 Everton 36 17 8 11 47 45 59
7 Blackburn Rovers 36 15 11 10 47 42 56
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 36 14 8 14 50 53 50
9 Charlton Athletic 36 14 7 15 44 51 49
10 SCBC 35 12 12 11 41 40 48
11 Manchester City 36 13 6 16 45 52 48
12 Birmingham City 36 13 8 15 39 46 47
13 Middlesbrough 36 12 10 14 42 41 46
14 Aston Villa 36 11 9 16 40 44 42
15 Fulham 36 11 9 16 38 50 42
16 Leeds United 36 12 5 19 52 54 41
17 Bolton Wanderers 36 9 13 14 39 50 40
18 West Ham United 36 9 11 16 39 57 38
19 WBA 36 6 6 24 26 62 24
20 Sunderland 36 4 7 25 21 60 19


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