Home » Tottenham in crisis and Manchester United will capitalise on it

Tottenham in crisis and Manchester United will capitalise on it

by Sam Peoples

By Andrew Gold

Two years ago Harry Redknapp’s men were trounced 5-1 at home to Manchester City. A week earlier, they had been carved apart by Manchester United (who also just beat Arsenal 8-2) with a 3-0 loss at Old Trafford. The August 2011 defeats came before the end of the transfer window which, as usual, generated a lot of unrest at Spurs. There was also the impending transfer of Luka Modric.

This week, a similar event may be in store for Spurs with the prospect of United following a 6-0 defeat at the hands of City. However, the situation appears far bleaker this time – more akin to the Ramos era of 2008 before Redknapp’s arrival. You know, ‘two points from eight games,’ as he liked to tell us. It’s similar because Spurs spent mad money on a plethora of players – mostly overrated (Bentley and Pavlyuchenko) but some genuine talents who need time to settle (Modric).

We are very far from what you may think of as a typical Spurs side right now. We’ve always been about flair. Years ago there were the likes of Hoddle, Waddle, Villa and Ardilles. Even languishing near the relegation zone a decade ago, the likes of Klinsmann, Sheringham and Ginola graced the White Hart Lane pitch. In more recent years, Modric, Berbatov and Bale stole the show. Yes, Spurs’ defensive and psychological frailties were palpable but you were always in for a good show.

So who are this Spurs team United will play today?

They have conceded in very few matches. In fact, they have already kept more clean sheets in all competitions than they did in the entirety of last year. However, it appears that when they do concede, they can be on the receiving end of a royal hiding – see West Ham (3-0) and City (6-0).

United appear to be finding form and there is a real concern among Spurs fans but things have gotten so bad this season that we’re almost at the point of hoping we get beaten 10-0 as it might push AVB out the door. I believe some (a minority) United fans felt that way only a few weeks back, so it can turn around.

Tottenham now play possession football. Anyone who watched the City game will have seen Spurs’ midfield boss the game. I use the term ‘boss’ lightly because they created about zero chances which seems to be the average they manage to create in games. This season was perhaps the first time Spurs have more ball possession over 90 minutes than Arsenal, at the Emirates too, yet it was one of the limpest, most uninspiring derby performances they’ve mustered in years. So that’s Spurs in a nutshell – dominating possession but creating very few chances.

There are a lot of long shots. Some go in. Most do not. A lot of this is down to the inverted wingers AVB is going with. He bought a striker (Soldado) who thrives off crosses and yet the wingers never reach the byline. Townsend has been a breath of fresh air this season but he cuts in and shoots wildly. As does Sigurdsson. Soldado cuts a lonely figure. Holtby and Eriksen were brought in as the men to feed the striker with intelligent play and intricate passes but the centre of the pitch is too congested with the inverted wingers and three central midfielders fighting for space.

United appear to be finding form and there is a real concern among Spurs fans but things have gotten so bad this season that we’re almost at the point of hoping we get beaten 10-0 as it might push AVB out the door. I believe some (a minority) United fans felt that way only a few weeks back, so it can turn around.

Spurs are 9th in the table but have been incredibly fortunate in some of the games they have won. I don’t believe it fairly reflects the performances of this season. Bale masked a lot of Spurs’ failures last season with ridiculous 30-yarders game after game. Now, AVB’s tactics are being exposed. He says teams come here to White Hart Lane to defend but it is a weak excuse. The other top sides manage to break them down and it doesn’t explain how West Ham can win 3-0.

Stubborn AVB finally changed the team to make it a bit more open – away to Manchester City, the most free-scoring team in the league right now. Not too smart.

When you spend £100m or so, you expect a lot better. Soldado, Paulinho, Lamela, Chadli, Capoue, Chiriches and Eriksen have not yet had the slightest impact whether due to injury, form or game time. Dembele has been dropped for Paulinho and I don’t know what he does but he starts every game. I used to call that Clint Dempsey Syndrome. In your ends, they call it Tom Cleverley Syndrome.

There are some bright sparks. Despite a couple of errors against City, Lloris is a brilliant goalkeeper, I would even put him down as a contender for best in the world. He’s that good. On their day, so are Vertonghen, Dembele and Sandro.

So today, expect to see Spurs with the majority of the ball. Expect a few crazy, long shots and expect a United victory from Van Persie taking advantage of Spurs’ high line. I can see the home fans turning on AVB very early on. I’d like to say it’ll be tight but if you get an early goal, we could see a cricket score.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Manchester United

Andrew is a Spurs fan who worked for Sun Online in London as a video journalist and sub-editor for two years. He also has experience at The Mirror, The Watford Observer, FourFourTwo Magazine and The Huffington Post. He is currently in Colombia where he has recently filmed the pilot for ‘Medellin in translation’, a travel series. 

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