Apologies for ambling in a day late with this missive, you can blame it on the post-prandial snifter, which turned into two or three and a night carousing with the best of them in south London. Yesterday, consequently, I was in no fit state for human consumption, which seemed rather apt given the tame manner in which our season had fizzled out the day before.
1. A Cracking Goal In Every Way Imaginable
And yet things had all kicked off so swimmingly. Admittedly we did not quite repeat the ten-second salvo of a couple of months back, but Kane still managed a neat pirouette and shot before the patrons had taken their seats, and in the opening ten minutes Eriksen and Sonny were bobbing about like they owned the place. In short, we looked every inch the dapper gentlemen ready to tear up the town, and it was little surprise when Dele slid in to bulge the net with such gusto.
A cracking goal from start to finish too, with Davinson Sanchez somehow squaring a circle by making a fairly straightforward route-one punt look something like a thing of beauty. A doff of the cap to Messrs Young and Pogba, for obligingly wafting out of position, but in the blink of an eye defence had become attack, and of all people young Master Eriksen was tearing away.
What followed was good enough to impregnate the watching hordes, because the cross whipped in by Eriksen was an absolute belter. It really deserved to be slapped into the net, and when Dele obliged at a rate of knots, judges throughout the land were scribbling 10s on their scorecards, because in terms of aesthetics the goal was off the charts.
2. An Atrocious Goal in Every Way Imaginable
To describe as a dashed shame the fact that it was pretty swiftly negated does not begin to sum things up. The equaliser was all the more galling for the fact that it was pretty emphatically of our own making, dash it all.
The trouble started when the wretched Vorm needlessly and inexplicably chipped the ball about ten feet above Vertonghen’s head and out of play. His options at the time were manifold, he had time to light a cigar and contemplate his summer hols before acting, and yet he simply blooted the ball out for a throw, level with the edge of his own penalty area.
The ensuing throw-in wibbled its way to the other side of the penalty area, where Dembele took the reins, and one would have expected a healthy period of world peace and prosperity to ensue. Alas, Dembele, in a rare display of mortal frailty – albeit one that lasted pretty much his entire 78-minute stint – chose that moment to throw in a stinker, and with the United end of the pitch beckoning, opted needlessly and inexplicably to dip back towards his own goal, and in doing so pretty much presented the ball to Pogba, gift-wrapped and with a neat bow on top.
Dembele allowed himself to be shoved to ground for good measure, and nobody in our defence was quite ready for the cross which then followed. Credit to the other Sanchez – the rotten one – for a downward header off balance and all sorts, but matters were certainly compounded by Vorm needlessly and inexplicably opting to stand and watch the ball ping past him. The concepts of sticking out a limb or, heaven forbid, launching himself after the thing were a long way down the Vorm agenda. He was of strictly decorative value, and he did not care a jot who knew it.
3. Poch’s Selection Errors: Vorm
Which ties in neatly to the decision to select Vorm instead of Lloris. I understand that Vorm had been the Cup-tie choice, which made some sense when we were mooching around the lower-league teams in the early rounds with bigger fish to fry in Europe and elsewhere. Those were the moments for Walker-Peters, Llorente and Vorm. Understood.
But an FA Cup Semi-Final vs Manchester United is hardly the time for sentiment, what? If ever there were a time to roll up one’s sleeves and say, “Hoy! Time to sharpen the bayonets and go hell for leather, no mistake!” it’s an FA Cup Semi-Final vs Manchester United. And if it hurts the poor lamb’s feelings then I’ll cry a river for him at a later date.
Moreover, on a pedantic note, if the idea were to drop Lloris for these occasions, why was he on the bench? If the chap is in the squad, play him. Admittedly, he has been littering stadia across the land with his mistakes in recent weeks, but if there is one thing he does still do with aplomb it’s pull of a heck of a save. Which would have proved a useful trait as both goals 1 and 2 whistled within clutching distance of the decorative Vorm.
4. Poch’s Selection Errors: Toby Alderweireld
Yes, yes, I understand the principle – mutter about grass being greener elsewhere and you can expect a stint on Poch’s Naughty Step, followed by an undignified elbow off the premises, and our glorious leader has to display consistency and ruthlessness. No “I” in “Team” and all that. But there dashed well is an “I” in “FA Cup Semi-Final vs Manchester United”, and to leave out our best defender – again, in the squad, but on the bench – was a move so petty I wanted to grab the nearest unsuspecting sort and shake him.
He may not be of our gang for much longer, but we still pay the chap his wages, however paltry he may consider them. He is still our player, so why not use him while we can? And while Sanchez has his many, many assets, who amongst us would not feel better with Toby patrolling the back door at night?
Who knows how life might have panned it had Toby played, it is one of life’s great imponderables, but I have a suspicion that for a start he might have made a better fist of things than the two in situ when the cross was swung in for Alexis Sanchez’s header.
5. Killer Instinct (Or Lack Thereof)
The latest media narrative – following on from Totteringham’s Day, the Wembley Curse, beating Top 4 teams away and so on and so forth – is this business of failing to win silverware. And much though I’d have loved a trophy, the opinion at AANP Towers is that Top Four finishes and improvement in the Champions League is indicative of far greater progress than an FA Cup will ever evidence.
The notion of being “Spursy”, “bottling” our operations and so on and so forth also gets wheeled out pretty much whenever we fail to win a game these days, which is simply a cross we have to bear and as much a reflection on a bunch of players long since retired as it is on the current mob.
More pertinently, one thing which sidesteps the use of statistics for one’s own convenience, or historical performances that have little to do with the current day, is the fact that our present lot could show a heck of a lot more red-blooded killer instinct when the chances arise. Against Juve at home, and Man Utd on Saturday – two of the biggest occasions of the season – we were in the ascendancy, created chances a-plenty, but scored just the once and padded away in fairly self-satisfied mood, only for a less expansive but more savvy opponent to pilfer the goods from under our noses.
If these two occasions have taught us anything it ought to be the value of taking what few chances come our way in crunch games. If we’re enjoying a fifteen-minute period of revels and gaiety, let’s score at least twice. If we’re giving an opponent a pummelling, let’s make sure the scoreline reflects it. One gets the gist. These unpretty but effective sides will as likely steal a goal against the run of play, and it is little use bemoaning how well we played and how dominant we were.
Like what you read? AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes is pretty reasonably priced on Amazon…
6 replies on “Man Utd 2-1 Spurs: Five Tottenham Observations”
In football I was always taught you play your best sides when you have a sniff of glory.
No sentiments and if we had the spine of our team right we would not of lost the semi.
Lets not forget Poch has bought our team a lot closer to glory in the past few years so should we be grateful for that in us believing the unlikely and the budgets he has worked with.
Man Utd were no better than Spurs and the winner was created by a miss control by Lukaka and a poor effort by our keeper that I am convinced Lloris would of saved. The first goal was an error by Moussa and not sure what he trying to do and just a case of over playing in a bad area. If we had taken our half chances it would of been so different but we have to be more clinical.
I don’t believe the old balonny about the Mourinho factor as twice now this season we have pretty much played them off the park but when they are in front they just suffocate the game.
Having supported Spurs all my lift this result hurt as we all know who the better side is
Agree – and I think you nailed it when you say when they (Man U) are in front they just suffocate the game. A string we need to add to our bow.
Were we the better team in Wembley ? Yes. Till the equaliser courtesy Dembele and Vorm. From that time on it was even Stevens but United always looked more capable of snatching it. Perhaps it’s history.
The problem is that Sampras or a Federer will always play the big points better against the talented 200 ranked opponent. Similarly, the big moments were played better by the team we had carted off 2-0 at Wembley a few weeks back. They took their chance and scored. ErikSen, laid on by Kane, muffed his lines when he had a chance easier than what got United their second. And United had no one making as fatal mistakes as Dembele.
Data does not lie. The Spurs team, talented, playing on occasions beautiful football, fails the big match moments. It’s a pattern. We need to spend more to get the leavening of champions who win tough and ugly. The Mourinho way. Perhaps a Modric. Perhaps someone like A Roy Keane in the middle. Someone with character and the winners mentality to pinch it in the end. But then we need to spend. We can’t compete logically at less than 50% of the United budget.
Wonder if Poch would ever countenance bringing in an experienced winner or two, to help with those big match moments you rightly mention, a la Davids or Cambiasso. (Although in theory Senor Llorente was supposed to have provided some of this nous…)
Disagree on blaming Vorm.Too many of you lot overrate Lloris. Not convinced Lloris would have save any of the goal. Gomes might save the second one. And this referee will not give any foul on Spurs if it is near near the opposition goalposts.
Probably agree to disagree on the second one, ended up going down the middle of the goal. Ifs, buts and maybes now though…