Tottenham 1 Utd 3
No knee-jerking here. You can browse away to any of the other blogs or message boards where no doubt one or two are slitting wrists thanks to this firm kick in the balls we got from United today. It was a predictable result, although I jokingly told friends earlier in the week that we would boss the game for 89 minutes then concede – a nod at that late late Tevez equaliser a couple of seasons back. Last year Modric should have won it in the final seconds. This time round, ironically doing superbly well coming into the game, we failed to match the tenacity of prior encounters at the Lane. At least the last two encounters where we deserved more than we got. Historically, we never beat Utd. And history repeated itself again. And today, we got what we deserved.
We were well beaten. Comfortably beaten. This was, is, the difference between a Top 4 side and the rest. Don’t fret, we are still on course for a Top 6 finish. But until we get that elusive CM who can dominate the midfield and also learn to live without the magic of Modric, we will continue to suffer in games like this. Games where we don’t quite get hold of the ball because the players opposing us are a little bit more accomplished. More polished and disciplined. 4 straight wins and instead of frustrating Utd we try to play football. And pound-for-pound that isn't the best of ideas. Especially as there is no one who can dictate the tempo in our side with Luka looking on from the stands. Tactically, we were a little too open. I guess the teams attitude was, why not? We are playing well, so take it to them. But if it's not quite 100% with balance, structure and selection then it can appear a little naive. Were a good side, just not great. Not yet.
Regardless great start, Defoe inside a minute. That got a fair few wet no doubt. Not that it was all Utd up until their equaliser. We had an opportunity or two, but the way they countered you knew they would find a way back. Tragically, from a free-kick (Giggs) and then Anderson from outside the box thanks to the clearance that found his feet. Earlier, Berbatov should have scored, thankfully squandering his efforts. It was ominous. You could smell the rancid stink of defeat against a side that, Christ, I’d love us to beat just once in a blue moon.
Half-time, good full blooded entertainment. End to end football but more missing from our performance than from theirs. Utd the more comfortable and dangerous with the ball with us not quite on top of our game. Untidy in places. Lennon not in the game as much as he was v Croatia during the week. The rest not quite clicking, although we did manage to produce some decent efforts.
Second half, on comes JJ for Palacios (yellow carded, tired from international duty). BAE with some great work, Keane should have scored. Block from Vidic. Yellow cards start to flow. Brilliant passage of play, Jenas shot, Foster saves. From the corner, Crouch headers the ball onto the bar. Game not as free flowing as it was in the first half but there are odd chances here and there.
Then we get a traditional seasonal Scholes red card.
Now can someone in the Spurs side take the game by the scruff of the neck? Answer to that is no. But that has just as much to do with the class of the opposition. Even with 10 men.
Berbatov off, Carrick on. We start to see more of the ball but Rooney has a shot saved onto the bar. Then Hutton comes on for Corluka. Still no scruffing of the neck. Evra has an effort that finds the side netting. Kranjcar on for Keane. But still nothing changes in our favour.
Also, worth noting that Crouch will never win a free-kick. It’s because he’s tall. Ask any ref, that if you’re taller then there’s no way you can be fouled due to your hight, thus it’s always your own fault. It’s undeniable logic, right? Quite.
15 mins left and it’s all gone flat. United score a third, all too easy, with Rooney beating Hutton followed up with a nutmeg on CC. Game over.
I can’t be harsh on anyone today. It just didn't work and Harry will go away knowing this. Lennon was contained by Evra. Defoe didn't see enough of the ball, with Huddlestone lacking bite and bullishness. Palacios obviously not 100% and a likely candidate for a red thanks to his tired legs, so losing him gave us another preview of what it’s like to face a Top 4 side without him. JJ not too shabby when he came on. In comparison to one or two others. Fact is, Utd are what they are because they bide their time, they play patiently and when they get their chances they are ruthless. Totally professional, painstakingly good. Basically, they're f**king annoying c**ts. Three point c**ts. Harry not able to force any changes tactically, as there was no true creative force in our ranks. And players didn’t pull together tightly enough to plug that hole.
Although worth noting that Keane on the left doesn't work and it proved to be the case leaving Huddlestone all alone (with no Keane dropping deep to help out when he plays up front). JD and Crouch did not drop deep. They don't do that.
Utd were well worth the points but the frustration from our perspective is that we made it a little bit too easy. It’s a shame we played them and now have to face Chelsea next because you get the feeling the side need to adjust a little with not having Luka in the side. And two lesser teams would have been more accommodating. But alas, the fixture list doesn’t give a shit. And neither should we look for excuses. We have a squad, it’s still not perfect. But we are working towards it. It’s the reaction and the response from this result that will be more telling that the performance on the day. Push that hype aside. And start working those £50K per week bollocks off.
Like I said. No knee-jerks. Would have been nice to steal a point, but on the day – not good enough.