Monday, 17 January 2011

Spurs fail to take the initiative

Although yesterday’s draw with Manchester United will suit both sides I feel that Spurs really missed a trick at home against Ferguson’s team. As soon as I saw the team sheet yesterday I expected a United win or a draw. The build-up had been going on for most of the week and the general feeling amongst the pundits and press was that it would be a victory for an up and coming Tottenham side. They started brightly and took the game to United but for me it was the manor of the performance and their reluctance to really test Ferdinand and Vidic.

Starting with Crouch means the team know they have a get out ball and can always play more direct during the game if they are pressured. We have seen before that for all Vidic’s great defensive attributes he is vulnerable to pace and I was surprised to see no Defoe or Pavlyuchenko. Luka Modric was outstanding in central midfield and deserved more support from Bale and Lennon on the wings who had the odd moment of brilliance but were on the periphery of the game for long periods. Redknapp is usually a very attacking manager but he seemed too worried about losing to really have a go at United.

One would assume that Crouch started because of his good relationship with Van der Vaart who has been their best player this season. The big problem is that against the top sides Crouch does not possess the ability to out muscle or out think top defenders. Vidic was brilliant but in all honesty had a very easy afternoon against him; spurs had clearly identified the lack of height of the United full backs so aimed many diagonal passes at Crouch in the hope that he would get it to the Dutchman. This proved to be fruitless as Ferdinand and Vidic read it every time and cleared the danger.

If Spurs are to become a regular top 4 side they have to get a proven world class striker to come in and get the goals against the big teams. They have a great goalkeeper, very good centre backs, a quality and creative midfield but are really missing the final ingredient. I think Spurs will struggle to get a Champions League place on the evidence of yesterday’s game which could mean losing one or two of their top players which will hinder them in the long term. It was very refreshing to see them finish in the top 4 last year but Van der Vaart has been their only addition as yet; more big names need to arrive to cement their place, not the likes of Beckham and Phil Neville!

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