Thoughts on Spurs vs. Man U

palacios scholes
The game has been reported as Spurs gaining a lesson in championship class. Perhaps, but Man U fans should still have reason to be nervous. Overall I thought there was little difference in quality between the two teams, but Man U simply played a little better and converted their chances. Spurs looked a little lost at times having had little time to figure out how to replace their best player – Modric – with 9 of their 11 starters off on international duty. Despite not looking all that in sync Spurs in the second half hit the crossbar and forced Foster to make a magnificent save.

Tactically, Rednapp replaced Modric on the left with Keane and gave Crouch the start up front. It didn’t really work. Keane was sort of absent for much of the game and was a liability defensively. Ferguson deployed Anderson to help double team Lennon which served to neutralize a main point of attack for Spurs. As a result, Spurs too often relied on route one balls to Crouch – who did well, but such balls became predictable and prevented them from developing any rhythm or continuous possession. Harry said as much in his post match comments. Palacios looked a step slower than usual – no doubt the trip back from Honduras the day before had something to do with that and Rednapp was smart to bring him off at the half after he received a yellow.

Despite the heavily biased commentary toward United among the game commentators, the first half was very even. Man U’s goals were both off free kicks (Giggs off a set piece, and Anderson after a badly cleared corner) and a healthy 6’7 Gomes in goal instead of the much shorter Cuddicini and at least one of those is saved. In fact, the difference in the game was Foster being able to make a long distance save in the second half off Jenas compared to the two let in by Cuddicini. Carlo wasn’t “at fault” but that’s why he is clearly the #2. Man U’s other clear chance in the first half came off a Spurs defensive give away and Spurs had the better of possession throughout the game. The basic fact is that Man U did not look all that threatening from the run of play, with the exception of the end when they could sit back and counter attack despite being down a man.

In the second half the sending off of Scholes in a bizarre way hurt Spurs, as the game became far less open with Man U putting nine behind the ball. This is where Modric was missed most. And where Rooney came into his own having acres of space in front of him. Ultimately his goal was class, but Hutton is increasingly playing his way off the team, as he should have made the tackle.

In general this is a good win for United. But despite Fletcher – who I think was the man of the match – Anderson, Giggs, and Scholes, while all having decent games, are just not able to boss matches in the way a championship midfield needs to.

For Spurs, it will be a bad media week with gleeful over the top stories mocking Spurs ambition. But judging by Harry’s post match interview they won’t be too upset. Unlike last year, Spurs now know they can go toe to toe with United, which says something about both clubs.

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3 Responses

  1. “Spurs looked a little lost at times having had little time to figure out how to replace their best player – Modric – with 9 of their 11 starters off on international duty. Despite not looking all that in sync Spurs in the second half hit the crossbar and forced Foster to make a magnificent save.”

    This argument is unconvincing. If the Spurs want to learn how to play with the big boys, then they are going to have to learn how to deal with this problem, which is one that United and Chelsea face month to month.

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