Should have taken the blue pill
The best way to sum up the opening game of the season at Old Trafford? It's like turning up to a sex party with no Viagra. You need sustained penetration and potency to retain that required edge throughout. Otherwise it can be over before it starts, leaving you limp and inactive. With no enhancement, we performed like we had a furious w*nk beforehand which although allowed us to remain active in deep areas, there was never going to be an explosive moneyshot. As for our hosts, they looked dazed on a Cosby pill.
Awkward analogies aside, we played alright. There was little wrong with our application in terms of structure and purpose. There just wasn't enough bullish dominance and ruthless aggression (even in pockets) to make more of the casual afternoons play. It won't be that much of an issue if we sign the 2/3 players we need to give us that missing edge. The new dimensions will need to provide us with pace, extra creativity and more choices up front. That way our mid-capacity will push upwards rather than ominously plod along with nice if ultimately ineffectual football. These new dimensions should really be classed as entry level expectancies.
That's the fear. Without the depth we'll repeat last seasons journey which will make this season a cold standard rather than another transition. I'm confident the club will back the coach and his staff. We don't have a choice. Otherwise we're holding ourselves back. It's a trademark we can do with not renewing.
The game itself was still ominous in the manner it unfolded. We all called it, I'm certain of it. We looked good, had a great goal scoring chance when Harry Kane superbly lifted the ball to Christian Eriksen. Sadly the finish wasn't there. Cue the obvious. A misplaced pass from the out of sorts Nabil Bentaleb and the counter attack concluding with Kyle Walker knocking the ball into his own net. It was just one of those things rather than it being one of those Tottenham kind of things. Mistakes will happen. This one was unfortunate rather than calamitous.
The frustration was that we didn't do enough down the other end to carve out an equaliser. This is made more frustrating when United only had that single own goal as their one shot on target.
Walker was actually impressive throughout. Clean in the tackle. Our defence had decent shape. Toby Alderweireld looking comfortable at the back and loving a diagonal as much as Nacer Chadli enjoys a missionary. Some of our football was actually quite neat and tidy. Eric Dier covered with confidence in central midfield, proving his versatility but also highlighting the necessity to sign a top drawer 'finished article' central mid / defensive mid player. We desperately need a more rounded presence in the middle. Too late to hope for Lars Bender (or is it Sven? Whatever happened to the ITK community?)
The issue of pace might just be a case of us having to find our rhythm (I give it 10 games tops to work out if we're going to resolve our identity crisis this term) and the way we transition from midfield / flanks into the final third. I do think we're wandering around with lanterns at the moment rather than channelling electricity. Two new forwards very much the requirement here (one that comes in from wide positions and another to support Kane).
I'm not at all disheartened. We should have done better. A 0-0 would have been fair, but either way the same conclusions would have been birthed. Perhaps I'm also bored of the fact we never seem to sign all the players we need before the start of the season but that's a trademark of our transfer policy that Daniel Levy is always keen on. Our late in the schedule pre-season friendly games didn't appear to impact our fitness. We've also got Hugo Lloris and Danny Rose to return. I'm certain Nabil will pick up his discipline again after his erratic day. I also expect more youthful surprise to make the grade once the Europa League Thursday to Sunday routine kicks off.
With Stoke at home next, we have to test them with far better movement and intent than we did against a distinctly average United side who just seemed happy to avoid a first day defeat. The weekend wasn't a total loss though, thanks to the comedy result over in the swamp. One game and their supporters buried deep under red replicas, scarves, hats and tracksuits are already dissecting their season apart with petulant over-reaction that will know doubt reverse back to title hunting hyperbole next week as they fail to hold onto any sense of reality. Spurs fans in the away end at OT preferring to control their own reality by singing beyond the final whistle.
Football is well and truly back. Tottenham have just got to start fronting it.