Manchester United (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 9th September 2006

After a disappointing start to the season with three points from three games, Spurs will need to show some considerable change in form and a show of strong character to get something out of this match.  Especially as we face a Manchester United side who have won all three of their matches so far.  The Red Devils are in good form, even though they have been without Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney so far this season, as they will be for this game.

With Michael Carrick plucked from Tottenham's midfield, his presence has been missed in the Lilywhite team and his injury has prevented him from playing for United so far, but he might well make his league debut for them on Saturday, having featured as a substitute for England in midweek.  This will add another string to Ferguson's bow and allow him a supply to the front two of Louis Saha and Ronaldo.  Of course, the Portuguese winger will be the target for the booing after a World Cup full of tricks, winks, dives and fouls.  He can be a very difficult opponent on his day, with our full-backs needing to keep their eyes on the ball and not his twinkling toes.  Saha has had only limited opportunities to feature in the United front line, but with van Nistelrooy gone, the Frenchman might find more chances to show what he can do up front.  While he looks fragile, he is strong on the ball and brings others into the game, so not only is he a goal threat, he also links play well.  Ole Gunnar Solakjaer's return from (very) long term injury gives the United boss another option in the forward line and he looks capable of scoring like he did at Charlton.

Another forward at Old Trafford might get some on field action, with Alan Smith pushing for a place on the subs bench after seven months out after breaking his leg at Anfield.  He is a tenacious striker who sometimes channels his energies in the wrong direction, but he can produce a shot out of nothing if allowed a small amount of space.

The midfield will also feature South Korea's Ji-Sung Park, who knows Young-Pyo Lee very well.  We will all hope that there is not a repeat of the slip Lee made presenting his fellow countryman with the ball in the area at White Hart Lane last season.  It lead to Rooney's second goal and put the game out of Tottenham's reach.  While he has moved to the right, Lee might find himself understudying Chimbonda, who you would think will be used straight away after a long pursuit for his signature.  The more physical presence of the French defender might stiffen up the prevention of supply from the United left wing.  England's Kieran Richardson and Scotland's Darren Fletcher both are going to get more appearances this season, with both making their names at international level.  Richardson came on as a sub in the Euro qualifier against Andorra, while Fletcher starred in the Scottish midfield and looked to run the show in their two qualifiers.  Neither can really fit into the Keane role, which has been identified for Carrick, although the lack of strength in ball-winning might be found out. 

Some creativity and danger comes from the running of Ryan Giggs with the ball.  Although the elder statesman of the united side now, Giggs is still a potent threat, with an ability to shimmy past players and also a finish to match, he shows Ronaldo the sort of player he should become.  He is also a source for the front two and a strong performance by the Spurs player marking him is required.

This may be why John O'Shea has been utilised in midfield, to put some effort in and play with a defensive mentality.  His absence in defence has been added to by Nemanja Vidic's knee injury ruling him out.  Where there seemed to be a lack of confidence in French full back Patrice Evra, he has featured in two games so far, as has his compatriot in the left back slot, Mikeal Silvestre.  Both have a penchant for attacking up the line to provide an option wide on the line, but with some pace now present in the Tottenham side, their attacking instincts might be reined in a little.  In central defence, England pairing Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand will feature and with Berbatov out, leaving Mido in the team to show what he can do on his permanent return to the Lilywhite shirt.

Behind all these United players is Edwin van der Sar.  The Dutchman had a very impressive World Cup campaign, with some fine performances and he was unlucky that the rest of the side did not perform as well as he did.  With his strong form, it will make it difficult for new signing from West Bromwich Albion Thomas Kuszczak to break into the team.  He might find a place in the Carling Cup side, but his loan deal is set to be made permanent at the end of the season, so he must be seen as a successor to the current keeper.

With a makeshift side, Jol will try and contain the United side, then hit them with the pace of Lennon and maybe with Defoe partnering Mido up front to try and get in behind them if their attacks break down.  Ledley King might be back in the line-up to partner Michael Dawson, which will make Spurs fans breathe a bit easier as the pairing works well together and they draw strength from each other.

I would like to think that Tottenham can repeat their result of last season and come home with a draw, but the loss to Everton was courtesy of a poor performance and the lack of fight at Bolton was worrying, as this is not the type of showing associated with Martin Jol's side.  A more tigerish approach will be necessary, with someone shackling Carrick in midfield to stop his controlling the play.  With the confidence in the United squad and home advantage, I sadly think we might slip to a narrow defeat, so the performance will tell us more about Spurs than the result.

PREDICTION : -  Manchester United  2   Tottenham Hotspur  1

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


MANCHESTER UNITED :  Wayne Rooney (suspended); Paul Scholes (suspended); Gabriel Heinze (knee); Gary Neville (calf); Nemanja Vidic (knee)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Dimitar Berbatov (groin); Steed Malbranque (hernia) 


Prem Plus (Pay Per View) - (live coverage)
Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 23.50 - 00.25 (highlights)
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - 22.40 - 23.25 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only




Manchester United   1   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : Old Trafford
Saturday 9th September 2006
Kick Off :  5.15 p.m.
Crowd :   75,453
Referee :  Mike Riley (Leeds)
Weather :  -  Dry, warm
Teams : - 
Manchester United :

Van der Sar

Neville (c)

Richardson (Park 70)


Unused subs: 


Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

(Ziegler 57)

Keane (Defoe 57)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Manchester United

Giggs 7

Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  
Manchester United

Richardson (foul) 67
Evra (dissent) 90


Tottenham Hotspur 

Ghaly (foul) 57
Mido (dissent) 57


Match Report : -  
The Tottenham fans that follow the boys through thick and thin turned out in force once more on this late summer evening in the ever-expanding fortress of Old Trafford.  However Tottenham's share of the record 75000+ crowd will have been left rueing the crucial missed chances that confirmed our side's worst start to a campaign for eleven years.

An early setback in the form of a headed Ryan Giggs goal on eight minutes proved enough for United to condemn Tottenham to another joyless evening at their ever formidable home.  The goal itself, a result of a swirling, swinging, long-range Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick that Robinson, severely hampered by the five-thirty sunlight could only parry into the path of the ageless Giggs who headed into the unguarded net.  This goal will provide Spurs and England No.1 further nightmares following other early season blunders, namely Ivan Campo' s opening day effort that he would've been keen to rid his memory of.

However, this error is the tip of the iceberg compared to deeper concerns that have been worryingly highlighted throughout the opening four games of the campaign.  The most prominent of which is the departure of Michael Carrick originally offset in many minds by the staggering fee and even more staggering profit.  However his terrific talent in the now almost stereotypically modern midfield 'holding role' is sorely missed.  His familiar, maturing repertoire of passing and vision in the unfamiliar red shirt contrast the tireless, but ultimately disjointed blue shirted effort of the ageing Davids and improving Zokora.

The return of the rock of a captain Ledley King accounted for the tighter, more assured defensive display.  His mere presence on the field instilled an indisputable air of confidence in his partner Dawson who was clearly more comfortable without the inexperienced Davenport under his wing.  However an outlet for this higher volume of blocks and tackles was not sufficiently available from the midfield.  Jenas, who must clearly feel the weight of Carrick's past burdening his shoulders, is clearly not the replacement and his former partner's absence hampered his ability to provide the side with late runs and creativity in the final third that provided seven goals last season.  The absent possession of Lennon whom no fan, manager or opponent can yet begin to predict was obviously missed, while the game passed his ineffective replacement Ghaly wastefully by.  News that Lennon could join new-signing Malbranque on the sidelines for several weeks will add to the side's wide midfield problems.

Debutant Pascal Chimbonda had a much more positive impact on the Tottenham side with solid tackles and attacking forays providing the performance with rare width reminded me of a youthful Stephen Carr, a promising start to what must prove to be a regular starting role for the Frenchman.  Meanwhile the return of a slim-line Mido, which was surely not a regular starting role in the long troubled left midfield position was definitely not successful and failed to incorporate the energetic Robbie Keane with the talented Egyptian's hold-up play and flick ons that Jol and us surely know he is capable of.

The emergence of Jermain Defoe early in the second half was the only of our three substitutions that didn't harm our performance with the anonymous Ziegler and Murphy never threatening to involve themselves in the game.  Defoe, livewire for England seven days ago perhaps deserved to start and showed why with his ability to create opportunities from the mere sniff of the ball and should have levelled the scores with a close range header, but failed to make adequate connection.  The second half also saw chances for Mido who also failed to convert a carbon copy of Defoe's earlier chance and a Michael Dawson header from a corner that flew agonisingly wide.  Other than that chances were few and far between with Spurs
lacking any attacking edge when advancing.  Pleasingly United's first half dominance of possession was suppressed in the second half with Zokora breaking up play well, reducing the Reds' chances to counter attacks from which Robinson showed his concentration and alertness, saving well from a Louis Saha one on one.

Martin Jol will be disappointed not to have earned a draw from the chances created, but goal opportunities will not dry up, more worryingly neither will the midfield issues that have stunted Tottenham bid to improve on a promising previous season.





Reaction : -



Three defeats in four games, two of which were no-shows, the other being quite
honourable.  Three defeats, nonetheless.

Big Marty, it's time to think about it son.

With only three points on the board, it's time to make some changes.  Some will be
temporary, others permanent, but they need to happen and soon.

Top of the list of priorities must be the removal of one Edgar Davids from the team, permanently, and fast, as he's a bad and disruptive influence on and off the pitch.  The dressing room dust-up with Zokora is a good example of this, not to mention last year's
training-ground fight with Robbie Keane.  Crucially, he's become the 12th man for the
opposition (assuming, of course, that they don't already have the referee !) and is
the quintessential reason as to why we've started so poorly.  Don't get me wrong, I
realise that there are others to blame also, but none more so than the volatile
Dutchman.  We can't get shot of him 'til January, but there's no reason why he can't
play reserve team football until then.

One man that certainly deserves more than second-string action is Danny Murphy, who
missed out last season through lack of fitness and sharpness, plus the position we
were in, where we couldn't afford too many passengers.  However, the ex-Liverpool manhas worked really hard in pre-season, but still only gets a place on the bench, if at
all and with Carrick gone, he's surely one of the better passers left at the club.

With Malbranque on the shelf, you'd have to stick with Tainio wide left and Lennon
on the opposite flank.  That's the easy bit sorted.  Now, who fills the massive hole
left by Carrick, who turned out for us against Man U ?  Today it appeared that
MJ tried to use two holding midfielders, in the returning Zokora and a debuting
Hossam Ghaly, who failed dismally to assert himself, yet somehow lasted the 90
minutes.  That was a shock indeed, as I was beginning to wonder if the Egyptian would
ever get a start at Tottenham, having been out in the cold ever since his arrival in
January and it wasn't the easiest match to throw him into either.

Zokora, on the other hand, played a lot better and will surely get a run in the side
now, whereas the future isn't so rosy for Jenas, who put in a typically invisible
performance.  I just cannot see what he brings to the side, certainly in terms of
passing, tackling, creativity and goalscoring.  It's all good when you pop up with
the occasional goal against Man U (twice last term) and Sheffield Utd, but it's no
good if we continue to fall short of our aim.  The last time I checked we were
supposed to be a team headed for the Champions League places, if not this term than
next and right now we look a million miles away from that and it's because there's
not only a lack of cohesiveness but no physical presence in midfield.

The annoying thing is that we have the players to execute this balance, but our head
coach is not quite on the ball yet, as far as team selection goes.  I feel it's time
to take the shackles off Huddlestone and put either he or Zokora in the holding
role, with Murphy in the playmaker role.  That move would be very good for Lennon, as
well as the forwards, who've suffered from a lack of service so far this season.

I don't know if he suffered an injury playing for England, but Lennon's absence from
the squad was a tad mysterious, for sure.  Spurs definitely missed him and I hope
that his omission was tactical.

We also missed the aggression, tenacity and industry of Tainio, who was rested after
midweek duty for Finland.  Surely, the only reason Ghaly debuted was because Tainio
wasn't there and I'm sure Ghaly won't get another chance anytime soon.

After today's spirited, but at times disjointed, performance MJ would be advised to
drop Davids and Jenas permanently, with Murphy and Huddlestone coming in
temporarily, to see what works and what doesn't.  I'd keep Zokora in the side as we
didn't pay 8.2m for him to just sit on the bench and, once settled, can be a
midfield destroyer for us.  All he  needs is games to build up his confidence and get
used to the rigours of the Premiership.  I'd put the Ivory Coast man on the right
side of a midfield trio, with Huddlestone taking over the holding role, while Murphy
would be toward the left.  This could see just one striker up front, if Tainio is to
be retained on the wing, or perhaps Keane would drop deep instead.

I dunno, at least Jol has genuine options in attack with Mido putting in a spirited
display, despite obviously lacking sharpness, as evident when he missed two sitters
late in the game.  Defoe was also guilty of missing a great chance, heading upward
instead of down with the ball seemingly coming off his shoulder, which shows he had the wrong idea in mind.

Keano did bugger all out there today and it'll be interesting once Berbatov comes
back from injury, as Mido hardly deserves to make way for the Bulgarian, not with
Keano and Defoe misfiring as they've been lately.  People like to make noise about
how our strikers aren't doing the business, but they're only as good as the service
from midfield, which is non-existent, so we end up back at that subject.

Apart from his howler that led to their winner, Robbo was solid and is still the
man.  The defence looked as good as they've ever done, with the King back alongside
Dawson, Assou-Ekotto looking strong at left-back, and Chimbonda having a fantastic
debut at right-back, looking as though he's been there forever.

So all it takes is for MJ to sort out that midfield, sort the crass from the class,
the needy from the greedy and the buyers from the sellers and we could be in
business.  Spurs could've won today and there was enough promise to give one hope for
the immediate future. However, before that happens, it's time for a change.


Watching via Sky yesterday, the team performance, but more importantly that of the chief - Martin Jol, left me feeling frustrated, puzzled and yet encouraged.
Frustrated Martin by your selection, above all others, of Davids.  Why Martin do you continue to believe that Davids has anything left to offer ?  "Pit Bull" ?  I think not.  "Bit Slow" would be better.  His late tackle led directly to the goal and his pin point passing to no one in particular was a master-class in wasted effort.  He should be retired and only used in extreme circumstances.
Puzzled Martin by the substitutions - particularly that of Ledley King, who clearly felt mystified and annoyed.  Surely it would have been better to push King or Dawson up front for the last throw of the dice rather than bring on Murphy.  Huddlestone could have covered for King or Dawson at the back and in mid field.  Murphy has to rate as the least effective buy - worth not a fraction of his transfer fee and with more past than future whereas young Huddlestone is the future.   Why not give the lad a chance Martin ?
Encouraged by the solid performance of the back four - particularly the new full backs - and encouraged by performances from Hossam and Didier.  Nice to see Mido back and looking slimmer if not really match fit.  
We could have achieved an honourable draw or even a win but for Van der Saar and two fine chances that went begging - one to Mido and the other to Defoe.
We have got the players - now the pressure will really be on Martin to deliver.




Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Watford 0 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Charlton Athletic 1 Saturday
Everton 3 Liverpool 0 -day
Newcastle United 1 Fulham 2 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Wigan Athletic 0 -day
Sheffield United 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Aston Villa 1 Sunday
Reading 1 Manchester City 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 4 4 0 0 11 2 12 +9
2 Portsmouth 4 3 1 0 8 0 10 +8
3 Everton 4 3 1 0 8 2 10 +6
4 Chelsea 4 3 0 1 8 3 9 +5
5 Aston Villa 4 2 2 0 6 3 8 +3
6 Bolton Wanderers 4 2 1 1 4 3 7 +1
7 Fulham 4 2 1 1 5 7 7 -2
8 Reading 4 2 0 2 5 5 6 0
9 West Ham United 4 1 2 1 6 5 5 +1
10 Liverpool 3 1 1 1 3 5 4 -2
11 Manchester City 4 1 1 2 1 4 4 -3
12 Middlesbrough 4 1 1 2 5 9 4 -4
13 Wigan Athletic 3 1 0 2 2 3 3 -1
14 Newcastle United 3 1 0 2 3 5 3 -2
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 1 0 3 2 5 3 -3
16 Charlton Athletic 4 1 0 3 4 8 3 -4
17 Arsenal 3 0 2 1 2 3 2 -1
18 Sheffield United 4 0 2 2 1 4 2 -3
19 Blackburn Rovers 4 0 2 2 1 6 2 -5
20 Watford 4 0 1 3 3 6 1 -3



Back to homepage