|While it was
never going to be an easy task to get anything out of the visit to Old
Trafford, Tottenham's performance was admirable even though there was no
reward for it, mainly because there was no award from Howard Webb, the
I am not sure what you
have to do to get a decision at Manchester United, but the chances were
that when Berbatov hade hurdled over van der Sar and shot towards goal,
that the falling Wes Brown did move an arm towards the ball to keep it
out of the net.
Replays did not seem conclusive, but then
the referee should have had a good line of sight to the incident and if
not, then he should have consulted his linesman. However, in the
tradition of all good linesmen at Old Trafford (and some crap ones),
giving no decision is better than giving one at all. I am not
saying that there was any collusion between the officials, just a lack
of decisive action.
While it is common nature for the
offended against to be up in arms, much like Brown was, but the number
of them who complained made it seem reasonably clean cut. I idly
wonder what would have happened if it had been the other way around ??
Much was said about United missing the
attacking duo of Ronaldo and Rooney, but little was said about the
absence of King, Dawson, Kaboul, Bent and Assou-Ekotto from the
Tottenham side. It was pleasing to see Gareth Bale out there in a
Spurs shirt and he put in a terrific performance seeing as how he has
had so little football. When he has a few more games under his
belt, he will be a great asset and his ability to play left back or
midfield, allows Jol more flexibility to change things around if needed.
It would be churlish to complain about
losing the game to such a fine goal as Nani hit, even if it did flick
off Tevez slightly as it went past Robinson's outstretched arm.
For the second time in a week he was beaten by a belting effort.
But the game had started so well for
Spurs, with a loose ball being won and Berbatov leaving it for Keane to
run onto and open his body to dink a shot over van der Sar. With
just 25 seconds on the clock, he was unlucky to see the ball flick off
the top of the bar having beaten the Dutch keeper's dive. But
unlucky was the order of the day for Tottenham. When they keep
rolling out the stat about Spurs not having won at Old Trafford since
1989, you can see why after a match like this.
Bale soon showed his ability to use his
pace and stamina, when he ran almost 2/3 of the length of the pitch to
earn a corner off Rio Ferdinand after taking the ball from a cleared
corner at his own end. When Jenas flighted the corner in, Pascal
Chimbonda rose to flick it across goal and Anthony Gardner was inches
away from making contact at the far post. After a quarter of an
hour Tom Huddlestone's free-kick picked out Chimbonda and the ball
dropped to Ricardo Rocha, who fired well over, when it might have fallen
more advantageously to one of our forwards. In fact Chimbonda won
a large majority of headers from set-pieces, but little came from them,
which is something we need to improve on to give the forwards more
opportunities to score.
A ball blocked by Bale was chased down as
van der Sar came well out of his area and when it hit the corner flag,
he had to put it out for a throw-in. From the second phase of play
after it had been taken, Ferdinand left the ball (supposedly for van der
Sar to come a long way to get it) and Berbatov was alert enough to nip
in and it needed Vidic to dive in to clock his shot on goal. It
was one of the few moments in the first half when Berba looked to get
involved, as Spurs played him almost alone up front, with Keane dropping
deep or wide to try and shore things up.
While Paul Robinson had attracted a large
amount of flak after his goalkeeping blooper against Germany for
England, he looked more assured today and when Hargreaves shot from a
corner that was headed out, the ball fell to Ferdinand at the Spurs end
and his shot was well palmed out as the Spurs goalie was going the wrong
way. He was a bit more static when Carrick struck an 18 yard drive
without letting Robbo set himself, thus he was relieved to see the ball
go past his left hand post, thanks to a deflection from Rocha.
Just afterwards, Giggs played a low ball in from the left and Robinson
was under it, but Scholes' first time effort from six yards out on 26
minutes might have been trouble had it been on target.
At the other end, Tom made himself a yard
and dragged a left footed effort well wide, while Nani did the same
thing from inside the box at the other end. Approaching the break,
Nani burst into the Tottenham area and Chimbonda made a well-timed
tackle to take the ball, as he did on a few occasions today. The
half-time interval arrived with the scores level and there had been
chances for each side.
During that first half, the Tottenham
fans had made their support of Martin Jol obvious, just as they had
their opinions of Tevez (just a sh*t Maradona) and Ryan Giggs (just a sh*t
Gareth Bale) !!
The second half started sluggishly, with
neither side making much headway until five minutes in, a cross came out
to Hud on the edge of the area and taking it on his thigh, he volleyed
it as it dropped, but under pressure, the shot went quite a way over the
top. The best chance of the game up until the 56th minute should
have seen Tottenham go ahead. Bale played a fierce free-kick in
from the right wing and Rocha found himself unmarked on the edge of the
six yard box and he had a clean header, but put it a long way wide.
it was a great opportunity to put Spurs in front.
With the hour just past, a ball into the
area from Bale gave Dimitar the chance to get there before Vidic, but
the two clashed as they went inside the penalty area. It looked
more of an accidental collision, as the United central defender had his
back to our front man, but Berbatov reacted first and stuck out a leg to
divert the ball under van der Sar and the ball was heading for the goal
until Rio Ferdinand salvaged the situation with a clearance off the line
before Berba could knock it in.
Then came the disputed incident which
should have been a penalty, with Jenas slipping a ball in for Berbatov
to threaten. Anyway, all we got was a lousy corner. Breaking
to the other end, Nani dinked in a cross that fell to Tevez and Jenas
was on the post to kick the ball clear as it would have slid in had he
not been there. He wasn't there two minutes later, when Nani took
a ball and saw Gardner backing off, before closing him down and by then
his shot was on it's way to the net. It took an exceptional strike
to beat Spurs, but that was little consolation.
Spurs sacrificed Keane and Lee for some
pace in Defoe and trickery in Taarabt, but they had few moments to
shine. Adel twisted and turned and won a couple of free-kicks
which came to nothing, although when Bale laid one square to him he did
hit a good shot that Vidic raced out to block. The closest
Tottenham came to levelling the scores was when a ball across the edge
of the area was taken down stone-dead by Berbatov and his curling shot
flew less than a foot over the angle.
Still Spurs looked for an equaliser, with
Hud playing a neat short pass through the oncoming Man U defence to two
Spurs players who were onside just inside the area. One was
Berbatov and the other was Gardner. It fell to the defender and he
tried to lay it off, but it didn't work and the opportunity was lost.
United brought midfielder Fletcher on for
forward Tevez, while Spurs brought on Zokora for Rocha, as they strove
for something from the match. Zokora's pace was relied upon at the
back, as they went three in defence with four in midfield and three up
front. Hud almost picked out Jenas' last minute run to perfection,
but the ball just caught him on the leg and bounced back and away from
him and then in the four minutes of added time, Bale made a run up the
left after linking well with Taarabt, but his pull-back was only to a
United defender ... much to the disappointment of everyone in a white
shirt ... on and off the pitch.
So another game at Old Trafford, another
defeat and another game where nothing was offered to us by the
officials. Alex Ferguson said on the radio on the way home that
Spurs were the best team they had played this season, which is
something, but some indication of that in terms of results would be
No better nor no worse than last season,
Daniel Levy was watching down on the fruits of his week's work.
The fact that the team put in a dedicated performance bodes well, as if
they can play like this week in and week out, they will get more points
as the season progresses.