Manchester United 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur
The record was nowhere near as bad as Anfield; that, for a long time, was memorable because our last win there was 1913 and as everyone gleefully pointed out, it was the year the Titanic sank.
Yesterday’s defeat was hardly surprising. Swansea were battered, CSKA cast to the UEFA wilderness. Hold on, we’re in the wilderness, CSKA were eliminated. They were matches we ought to be winning anyway; apologies if that arrogance offends but you’ll get over it.
United is a different matter. The golden age of consecutive wins is over; business as usual resumes.
In the modern game, statistics are king but as in the olden days, there’s still one which counts above all else: the final score. We dominated possession, won more tackles, had more dribbles, etc., but Henrikh Mkhitaryan took his one chance which is more than we can say about Christian Eriksen. Five shots on goal from the Dane and not a scratch on the barn door. It’s not good enough; I don’t what Poch has them doing in training but it isn’t shooting practice.
Mkhitaryan had three and scored with one. Pogba, world football’s most-overrated footballer, had three and hit the post with one. That’s the difference; United looked like scoring when they had the ball and the goal typified that. A run onto a pass thr0ugh; not spotted – or more accurately, not spotted soon enough – by the defence and well finished.
We had moments but they were only sporadic. Rose and Walker were our best players and it’s baffling why, having done well with a back three, we reverted to a 4-2-3-1 in a big game. the 3-4-2-1 went wrong at Stamford Bridge in the second half but for forty minutes, we were in complete control. We got a point against Arsenal and should have had more. It’s a system which works for us and against a dull and unimaginative United side, would have surely paid dividends?
The concern is that we’ve become so concerned with keeping the defensive side tight, we’ve lost sight of the fundamental notion of football: you must score to win games. We’re an easy side to play against for the big clubs on their own patch: Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Liverpool; we’ve scored just one goal on each of the visits to those grounds, losing three and winning none. No-one has scored more than two against us but they haven’t need to.
Until we find that balance, we’ll always be left ruing missed chances. Rose and Walker were outstanding for the most part which just goes to underline the basic problems we face. Our full backs/wing backs whatever you want to call them, are out biggest attacking danger. It just isn’t happening when that is the case. It time we got to grips with the issues; almost half the season has gone and we really should be challenging for the top of the table.
We’re ten points adrift now and already hoping for Arsenal and Chelsea to join City and Liverpool in imploding. If by the end of 2016, we haven’t seen any indication of that happening, the second half of the season could be the longest 4½ months we suffered for many years.