Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 2nd December 2000

A visit to Old Trafford in recent years has been to appear as the opposition while Manchester United go through the process of picking up the Premiership trophy.  Even though the title race is a bit of a one horse race, even they aren't that far in front so the pot won't be presented on this occasion.

However, the match represents another test of how far Spurs are towards reaching a challenging position.  It won't mean a lot in the title chase, but away from home Spurs have been dire and they need to transfer some of their impressive home form to their trips away from White Hart Lane.  Man U are probably not the side to try and get your first away win of the season against, but there should be confidence that they can take the game to the home side after good wins against Liverpool and Leicester City.

The champions have a stunning array of talent available and even with their injury problems, there are still enough bought and home-bred stars to fill the team.  Wes Brown is currently filling in for Jaap Stam and Teddy is in for Cole who has been under the knife.  Other younger members of the squad have been given opportunities to come in and get experience, so Fergie has the ability to shuffle his pack to produce a team to confound the opposition.  The old guard of Irwin and Neville are still there in front of French custodian Barthez.  He is erratic and his footballing skills are not up to much, although he seems to want to play the ball out at every opportunity.  His fellow countryman Silvestre could feature in defence, but he is prone to lapses and Spurs should take advantage of them if he should do so on Saturday.  In front of them in midfield are Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Butt or .  Formidable isn't quite the word.  Not only are they good on the ball, but work very hard off it to regain the ball or the team shape.

With Teddy having a renaissance up front alongside Dwight Yorke, Solskjaer has been relegated to the bench, but could always enter the play to strike when least expected.  Others who have featured are Greening, Chadwick, Fortune and Johnsen.  Van Der Gouw came on for Barthez last week, so may be in goal if the regular No. 1 doesn' t make it.  

Spurs must try and match Manchester United's work rate, like they did with Leicester and then try and impose themselves on the match.  It will be a hard task and truthfully, there are no teams in the Premier League who can touch the Red Devils at the moment.  At home we are unlikely to get anything from the ref and so should fight it out (in the sporting sense of the word, not Gerry Taggart's) and see what happens.

PREDICTION : -  Manchester United 2  Tottenham 0 

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



Manchester United  2   Tottenham  0     Saturday 2nd December 2000

Scorers :  Scholes 40, Solskjaer 84.
Weather : 
Attendance: 67,583
Ref: G Poll (Tring)

Man Utd: Barthez, G. Neville, P. Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Beckham, Butt (Giggs 72), Keane, Scholes, Yorke (Solskjaer 72), Sheringham.
Subs Not Used: Van Der Gouw, Irwin, Greening. 

Tottenham: Sullivan, Carr, Campbell, Perry, Thelwell, Clemence, Anderton, Sherwood, King, Ferdinand, Armstrong (Korsten 63).
Subs Not Used: Walker, Freund, Davies, Vega.

Following Roy Keaneís recent comments about prawn sandwiches at Old Trafford I was delighted to receive a Corporate Invitation to this game. I travelled to the game in a thirty foot white limo, with all the trimmings. We quaffed champagne as we cruised up the M1 and M6 with all the London based Reds gawking at us as they made their fortnightly pilgrimage. Our driver deposited us immediately outside the ground so we did not have to walk too far to our private box in the North Stand. There was, of course, disappointment on the faces of those watching when they realised the limo was not full of Coronation Street stars. The box was situated on the 2nd floor of the stand immediately over the half way line. On the subject of Corrie, Des Barnes was in the box next to us ... and I thought he was dead.

A very attentive waiter served lunch in the box. We kicked off with mushroom and red onion mousse served with crisp leaves and a herb pear dressing. Very tasty and a good start. Next came roast rack of lamb with a Madeira sauce accompanied by new and roast potatoes and the chefís selection of vegetables. A good traditional main course but then we were up North. As kick off approached we still had time for a sweet of Blackberry and white chocolate charlotte with fruit coulis. An absolutely delicious finish and all washed down with a couple of bottles of 1995 Faustino V Reserva Rioja - a snip at £21.95 a bottle. With lunch consumed not a prawn sandwich was seen. Coffee followed and we settled down to watch the match. Just in case any of the Reds fans in front of our box tried to watch replays on our television we tuned in to the rugby. They donít have a big screen at Old Trafford you know.

The game was watched by a record attendance for a Premier League match of 67,583. Big crowd pullers this Spurs side when they play away.

The only change to the Spurs side saw Armstrong replace Rebrov, as Perry had recovered from a knock sustained against Leicester. It was good to see George standing by Thelwell and King. The game was fairly predictable. United had plenty of possession and attacked Spurs constantly. With some resolute defending it looked as if we may hold out to half time but it was not to be. With five minutes to the break, Scholes was found in acres of space wide on the left of the Spurs penalty box. He cut inside to beat Perry and struck a sweet shot across Sullivan in the far side of the net. The Tottenham highlights this half saw Ferdinand force a save from Barthez although the shot was off target. Sullivan managed to slip as he came for a back pass and sliced his clearance for a corner. He also made a string of fine saves to keep the score down. United had looked in a different class to Spurs for the first 45 minutes.

At half time we caught up with the Rugby score from Twickenham and enjoyed a cheese board of Cheddar, Double Gloucester and Stilton. Just what was needed.

The second half of the match saw more of the same. Spurs did gradually start to believe they may be able to score and started to play with some belief. As the half wore on the pressure on the United goal grew. Barthez was unmoved however and eventually the inevitable happened again. Spurs were stretched and a quick through ball found Solskjaer marginally onside. He advanced on goal and slotted the ball under Sullivan. Two nil, end of story. That was how it finished. United stay 8 points clear at the top. They have not lost at home in the league for two years. Spurs have still to pick up their first away win of the season.

So after a few drinks in the box to let the traffic clear it was back to the limo for the journey home. As we left, a couple and their son all dressed up in United wear and resembling the Addams family actually took some pictures of the limo even though they had no idea who was in it. Strange these United fans, but I think that was the point Roy Keane was making! 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL (I do hope he got back on the Team Coach)

Eric the Viking


No chance


As expected Spurs went down to Manchester United at Old Trafford in time honoured tradition.  But it was a bit closer than the hammering we were all thinking might happen.  Some of that was due to poor finishing on the home side's behalf, but some was born out of the Tottenham's team spirit which was up after two straight wins.  Admittedly, those wins came at home and we have still to win a match away from White Hart Lane this season, but perhaps there are signs that it might not be too long in coming.

There was enough to suggest that there is some semblance of team cohesion within the Tottenham side, but there are still problems.  The number of opportunities players are getting on the end of is still low.  This means that there are less goals likely to be scored.  Last week, Spurs were lucky in that most of the chances they created were stuck away.  This week, it showed that even if you intend to try and keep the game fairly tight, you must get people in the box and this was the big difference between the two sides on show.  Manchester United flood forward when they have the ball - not haphazardly, but by getting men forward, they give themselves more options and there is more chance of a cross finding one of their players or a ball dropping to someone who might score.  How many times have Spurs crosses gone in to no-one in particular or the ball dropped from keeper or defender only to be some way away from where a Tottenham man is standing ?  By nicking the odd goal here and there, it is not guaranteed that the side will win more games, but it would give you more chance to do so.

Having said that, Spurs were never likely to get their first away win in this match and there were lots of chances for the Reds to make inroads toward the Tottenham goal.  Sullivan almost handed them a goal in slapstick fashion, when he went to clear a back-pass and slipped.  He just about got enough on the ball from his standing leg to take it wide of the goal, but the pass should not have been directly in front of his goal anyway.  He did reasonably well with the shots directed at him and when he was coming off his line, but with Scholes' goal (although Carr was caught appealing for offside), he didn't appear to go for it fully, well placed as it was.  The second left him every exposed after Anderton and Sherwood had contrived to give the ball away and Solskjaer finished it off.  For all the head of steam Spurs got up towards the last quarter of the game, Man U always looked in control.  The only panics came with Barthez's footwork, Les' little dink back across goal and Korsten's stinging drive that the French keeper pushed away.  The threat would only have provoked a fiercer response from the home side.

A day that saw the biggest Premier League crowd ever watch a home side undefeated for two years and a side that hadn't won much away from home for that long.  May next weeks crowd see at least one of those statistics change.

Mark Yerman


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