It’s been coming…By: Ian | September 30th, 2012
It’s common knowledge that Utd have not found top gear so far this season. Far from being a Veyron at full tilt, they’ve been akin to a stuttering Alfa Romeo: capable of pieces of brilliance, intermittently. This has been enough to register four wins on the bounce now, with the luckiest last week against Liverpool, but good fortune can only get you so far and apparently it will only take you to White Hart Lane. Actually, this was Tottenham away, but for the majority of the match, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Utd were the visitors.
Despite a decent looking Utd side, disaster struck almost immediately, with a Totteham interchange on the left wing releasing Jan Vertonghen who sprinted forward, escaping three players who were as spellbound as the crowd at a Usain Bolt race, and beating Lindegaard thanks to a deflection off Evans. Fortunate in this regard, but the amount of space left open for his run fully deserved to be punished. None of the players around him wanted to put in a challenge. Very poor defending. Fifth time in six league games this season Utd have conceded first apparently. Also a poor statistic.
A piece on Utd’s facebook page recently had Carrick explaining pre-match goings-on that involved a spot of lunch around three hours before and then a casual bit of time in the dressing room with the TV on. Well, they were playing like they were still in there, for Lennon powered forward shortly after, drifting past everyone with ease, with only a Ferdinand block stopping another effort.
Van Persie took an ankle knock on a rare occasion with Utd being at the Spurs end, but despite the commentators wondering whether he could continue, it wouldn’t really have mattered, as he had nothing much to do. Tottenham’s pressing made a mockery of the three across midfield and two wingers supporting a lone striker with the whole thing best described as everyone in isolation, harressed instantly. That’s usually Utd’s role at home, but not today.
We’ve had two long runs through the defence, we might as well add a third for luck. Just after half hour, Bale lit the burners over forty yards, leaving Ferdinand looking sluggish and Evans somewhere near Defoe. Bale didn’t need the support and slid the ball across the goal for two-well deserved-nil. A penalty appeal from the irritating display of Nani finished off the half, and whilst there were hands on him, he made it look a little too obvious, if that makes sense.
Utd needed a shot of something, and they got it through the substitution of Rooney for Giggs at half time. Still returning to fitness, Rooney nevertheless supplied the energy needed to kickstart the Utd motor, crossing well for Nani to volley in. The ball was grabbed by the Portugeuse and returned swiftly to the centre circle. Utd, it seemed, were prepared to fight for this, and even Nani hadn’t given up. This may have been the mindset, but Tottenham immediately tore forward again. Bale forced Lindegaard to parry his powerful shot straight into the feet of Dempsey, who slotted home for his first Spurs goal. A two-goal advantage restored and the small balloon of hope that was being inflated lost its air.
Seconds later, Kagawa managed to stay onside with a through ball, controlled well and accurately slid the ball past Friedel. Three-two, with three goals in three minutes. It looked for all the world that both sides could grab more goals, but that was to be the final goal, despite Tottenham resting on their laurels and it being Utd pressurising from here on. Rooney hit a great free kick which made a resounding clang off the post and Van Persie made it three-three, but only for the number of times of ball going in net, as he was correctly judged offside.
A weak penalty shout against the brilliant Sandro came next, followed by the inevitable chance to equalise through Van Persie, who despite the backing of many bets and several commentators’ mortgages, skewed his shot well wide. It wasn’t his day, and nor was it to be Utd’s, as Scholes’ long range shot and Carrick’s fortunate head-on were saved and hit the bar respectively. Fergie complained the injury time of four minutes was an insult, but you can’t just keep adding minutes so we have enough time to end level all the time. The injury time winner, that has come so often, was not on the cards yesterday afternoon, and nor would it have been deserved.
The second half was brighter, but the first half was truly dreadful and quite shameful from Utd at Old Trafford. The legs were not moving and there was no energy there. Flat. Lifeless. Use a thesaurus for more words to this effect. The headlines naturally focussed on the goal-fest, but it was Utd’s lacklustre appearance that concerned me most. Is the adrenaline of playing in front of home fans not enough?
We’re off to Romania for Champions League action against the group minnows, CFR Cluj, midweek. The relatively lengthy trip aside, this shouldn’t be an issue and maybe it’ll provide some good practice for getting both fitness and solidness to higher levels.