Tottenham’s winning streak was cut short by Manchester United. United came back from a goal down to win 1 – 3 at White Hart Lane. The best thing Harry Redknapp can do after the loss should be to study and learn from the match. Go through the match video with the team and identify their areas of shortcomings in the match.
I’ve just watched the match again on ESPN. Following are my 7 reasons why Tottenham crashed against United.
1. 4-3-3 Formation Leaving Spurs Wide Open
Why? Why? Why did Harry put up a 4-3-3 formation against the likes of Manchester United? Especially with Modric in the crock list. Palacios, Lennon and Huddlestone were clearly outmatched against the likes of Fletcher, Anderson, Scholes and Giggs in midfield.
With only three Tottenham White Shirts manning the midfield, Tottenham looked and was indeed too open for Manchester United. MU had the numbers and the talents to take control of the midfield. As such, Tottenham spent a major part of the match defending. Lacking midfield coverage, defensive clearances go straight back to United players. As such, the ball keep on coming back to haunt Spurs defenders.
2. Aaron Lennon Kept On A Leash
Lennon is probably one of the most nimble players in the league. He has been running circles around defenders since the start of the season. However, Evra managed to keep him quiet for the most part of the game.
Against Evra, Lennon faced a left back who can match his speed and footwork. They both possesses similar playing traits which cancels out each other.
Harry should have noticed this. I suppose he did. If so, why didn’t he tell Lennon to switch to the left side more often? Maybe he did. Perhaps Lennon did not play to Harry’s instruction?
3. Minute Possession
Through out the earlier 4 matches, Tottenham enjoyed most of the possession time. They had control of the ball. They passed the ball around, waited and created the openings for the strikers to score.
“We didn’t get our game going, we didn’t get our passing going and as a consequence they got back into the game. They are a top, top team and punished us.”
In the match against United, Tottenham had little possession of the ball. Whenever they had possession, they would give it away cheaply at midfield. Many a times, Spurs relied on long passes from the defense. These deep passes often go wasted as Tottenham players were nowhere to be found in United’s half.
Had they been more patient with the ball and kept possession, they would’ve been able to frustrate United a little bit. However, it was Spurs who grew frustrated as they had little possession. When frustration creeps in, mistakes happen. Against a team like Manchester United, mistakes are certainly costly.
Anyone have any idea to why Pavlyuchenko was left on the bench? Especially on a day when the strikers clearly failed to make full use of the chances presented? Did Corluka suffer an injury?
United was certainly not pressing forward a lot after Scholes’ sending off. Evra spent more time making sure Lennon was quiet. Rarely did he venture forward to trouble Corluka. Why was he substituted?
I feel sorry for Hutton. That’s twice now he has been involved in Tottenham’s moments of defensive confusion which lead to a goal. In last week’s match against Birmingham, he was involved in the blunder in defense where Lee Bowyer scored the equalizer for Birmingham. This time around, he was again involved in the confusion which Rooney took full advantage of with his goal.
Wrong place at the wrong time? Where was King anyway?
5. Midfield Creativity, The Missing Link
Spurs is certainly missing Modric’s creativity and defense splitting passes at midfield. The situation was made worse with Lennon being kept quiet by Evra. Keane, assigned to the Modric role, was clearly not up to it.
Palacios and Huddlestone are not known for their creativity. Jenas did bring back some punch into the Spurs engine room. However, his presence only spurred just a little creativity back into the team. It was not enough to break United’s wall of defense. Yes, United did go into defensive mode after Scholes saw red.
6. Two Steps Behind
Is it only me? Do any of you noticed that Spurs players seemed to be two steps behind United’s? Through out most of the match, United seemed to win tackles and getting to the ball ahead of Tottenham’s players. Were United simply faster and more alert?
“We didn’t seem to be able to get close to them. If you let them play they will always hurt you and that’s what happened.”
Tottenham players, for the most part of the match seemed to be in a daze. On many occassions, they were caught ball watching. It’s among the reason why United enjoyed more possession time. They were winning the ball more often than Spurs.
7. United’s Winning Wherewithall
Time and time again, United showed they have the wherewithall of champions. This they showed so many times against Spurs. How many times have United comeback from behind to win against Spurs? Too many.
No matter how many goals Spurs are up in front, United have always shown that they can comeback and win the game. Tottenham should take to learning about the mindset of United’s players. If Spurs want to really challenge for the top 4 spot, then they will need to instill the top 4 mindset into the players.
Skills and talent wise, there is not much different between Manchester and Tottenham. Thus, the only differentiating factor is the players’ mindset. To become champions, they must have a champion’s mindset. At the moment, that’s probably the one thing lacking in Tottenham’s players.
What Comes Next?
I am pretty sure Harry has already identified the team’s shortcomings. They need to be worked on before Tottenham’s next match. Up next for Spurs is another top four opponent. Chelsea is Tottenham’s next opponent. Spurs will be wearing the Tottenham Away Kit and travel to Stamford Bridge to go against the current league leader.
Chelsea is one of the two remaining teams with a 100% winning record so far in the league. This match will be another difficult test for Harry’s boys. Do you think Spurs will turn the table against Chelsea?