Man United 1 Tottenham 2: Three talking points
Man United 1 Tottenham 2: Three talking points as Spurs secure a famous win at Old Trafford
As they have done in their three other games since Tim Sherwood became manager – wins against Stoke and Southampton and a draw against West Brom – Spurs played in a 4-4-2 formation, with Emmanuel Adebayor having returned to the fold and playing up front with Roberto Soldado. Strangely, given the 4-2-3-1 formation they were employing under Andre Villas-Boas is meant to enable free-flowing football, Spurs seem to be playing more open, attacking football in a standard 4-4-2. For example, for the first goal, Christian Eriksen delivered a cross from the opposite wing. A big part of this rejuvenation has been Adebayor’s return to the team. Not only has he now notched three goals in four games, his presence seems to be helping Roberto Soldado, who has not really shown sufficient quality to lead the attack on his own, having only scored one from open play in the league. The Togolese striker, perhaps due to his lenghty spell on the sidelines, appears hungrier than he has been at times in his career, willing to drop back and look for the ball, rather than wait for perfect service to come to him. It was bold of Sherwood to set up like this at Old Trafford, going toe-to-toe with them instead of packing the midfield, but the decision was justified.
Can Spurs now mount a title challenge?
Through some combination of tactical and personnel changes and just a fresh start, Spurs have been a team anew under Sherwood, earning 10 points from 12. Tottenham have scored nine in four since Adebayor’s return – not an outstanding record, but impressive given they have averaged just over one goal per game in the whole season. This win puts them sixth and well in the mix for Europa and Champions League contention. Indeed, perhaps even to mount a title challenge, given the belief beating United in their own back yard will give them, and the extremely open nature of the Premiership this season. They certainly have the personnel, having, financially buoyed by Bale’s sale, spent £108m in the summer, and it seems they have the system too – good old 4-4-2.
This could be result that finally puts paid to United’s hopes of retaining the title. Not that David Moyes seemed to perturbed by the result, claiming his team played “very well” and bluntly unveiling on what it spells for their season – merely uttering the age old cliche of taking each game as it comes. In fairness, United were far from poor, merely outclassed by a strong Spurs team. But they were also far from the United that people have come to expect – under Sir Alex Ferguson, some may add. There were already some calls for United to spend big in the January transfer window, and this will result will exacerbate them. A world-class central midfielder is what appears most needed, certainly on the evidence of this performance, as it looked like Michael Carrick needed a lung-busting midfield partner to balance out his more restrained, defensive and distributive role. And it is coming to appear that Tom Cleverley, with the exception of a good goal recently against Aston Villa, is not that – and perhaps not a midfielder of Manchester United quality in general. It was telling today that Wayne Rooney was dropping back into midfield so much, even before officially switched there on the hour. It has been rumoured that United are pursuing Wesley Sneijder, who they failed to sign two seasons ago – something many fans have come to regret a fair bit. The Dutchman, who has been showing great form for Galatarasay this season, could prove a great addition to the team – a creative presence with proven ability to unlock defences and who is strong delivering set pieces too.