United secure eighth away draw

January 16, 2011 Tags: , Matches 42 comments

Manchester United drew an eighth Premier League game away from home this season as Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit survived the last quarter with 10 men at White Hart Lane. Rafael da Silva saw red in a vibrant encounter with Tottenham Hotspur but Ferguson’s side saw out the match to stretch an unbeaten league run to 26 matches.

But the game at White Hart Lane ended in controversy with Rafael’s red card, who twice appeared harshly judged by referee Mike Dean. The youngster picked up a yellow card for a first half tackle in which the Brazilian appeared to win the ball, and then a second for inadvertently tripping Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

The second red of Rafael’s career may have proven a steep learning curve but for the home side’s failings. For all the home side’s possession Harry Redknapp’s outfit failed to either create enough opportunities or take the limited chances that came Spurs’ way.

Indeed, having seen his team harshly reduced to 10, Ferguson is entitled to be satisfied with the point even if United’s record away from home is the worst of any potential champions in the past 20 years.

“It was a tough game and Tottenham are in great in form but they didn’t really create any chances today,” said Ferguson, whose side returns to the top of the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester City.

“We’ve got games in hand but we’ve got to win them. We’ve got to go to Chelsea, we’ve got to go to Blackpool and they’re in great form at the moment. It’s an exciting run in.

“It’s about winning games and keeping your nerve. Today, defensively, we kept our nerve. Given the performances that Tottenham have had at home it was a great performance by us today.”

The Scot had selected an attacking looking line-up for the trip south, with Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic returning after missing the cup tie with Liverpool last weekend and Wayne Rooney paired with Dimitar Berbatov up-front.

The selection was prescient in a game that began with a cup tie flavour as both sides sought to attack in numbers. Yet, for all the good possession in midfield neither United nor the hosts could force clear-cut openings.

Rooney seemed way off the pace though, even if the former Evertonian also created two chances in his first game back after a fortnight off with injury. First the 25-year-old wasted an early opportunity after Berbatov’s fine pass and then Rooney forced a save from home stopper Heurelho Gomes after the break.

The home side’s progression in recent seasons reflected a game in which rapid one and two touch passing dominated. Indeed, the home side created two presentable chances with first Peter Crouch firing narrowly wide from Alun Hutton’s fine centre and then Rafael van der Vaart heading Gareth Bale’s cross into the side netting.

If anything United improved after the break as Michael Carrick flicked a header just wide and Gomes saved at full stretch from Rooney.

Rafael’s red 20 minutes from the end saw the visitors revert to a more cautious approach but Spurs – much as Redknapp’s side has progressed – failed to break United down. For that Rio Ferdinand and the magnificent Vidic take huge credit.

“I think we had to be solid today, it was a good defensive display,” added United ‘keeper van der Sar.

“On the ball we could have brought more but that’s a compliment to Tottenham. I had a couple of free kicks to save but they didn’t hurt us much. Defensively it was great.

“It’s an ok result today especially going down to 10 men. It was a high pressure game for him [Rafael] but he’s only 20 and he’s looking forward to many more years at the club.”

Yet, while the 20-year-old full-back learned much from the dismissal against Bayern Munich last season he will take little from Dean’s actions today.

“I don’t need to discuss that, you can see for yourself,” said Ferguson dismissively. “I don’t need to discuss the referee.”

Little wonder. An honest assessment would surely bring little but another touchline ban. Yet, despite the frustration Ferguson will take the point as United head into the final months of the season in pole position. Trips to the Emirates and Stamford bridge follow, but with two games in hand on City it is now United’s title to lose.

Match Facts
Spurs – 4411 – Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios (Defore 18), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Crouch.

United – 442 – Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani (Anderson 61), Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs; Berbatov (Hernandez 78), Rooney.

Attendance – 35,828
Man of the Match – Vidic

Possession: Spurs 58% – 42% United
Attempts: 15 – 7
On Target: 2 – 4
Corners: 8 – 2
Fouls: 9 – 18


odbpowell - January 16, 2011 Reply

Silly of Rafael, I thought. Perhaps not a booking, but he needn’t have given the ref the chance to get his cards out again. He needs to calm down.

I thought the tactics were a little odd. Rooney, although off the pace as you say, still looked the most likely to score, whereas Berba barely got involved in anything. When we moved to a 4-5-1 and Rafael was still on the field, surely Rooney would have been the better option on his own, with Nani wide in a 5?

Still, who am I to question Fergie, but it did seem odd.

Vida and Rio were immense.

bman - January 16, 2011 Reply

Although people have been criticising the midfield, I thought Fletch and Carrick did some things well today. I think the bigger problem was that Nani and Rooney were very poor, which completely undermined Fergie’s attacking line-up. Not only were Fletch and Carrick outnumbered in central midfield, they had little outlet from those two and the ball kept coming back at them.

The back 5 were terrific, the central two were ok, and Berba did his job well. Giggs was alright, but Rooney and Nani’s anonymity made us a fairly toothless and sloppy outfit.

Steve - January 16, 2011 Reply

For all the talk of Van der Vaart and Bale before the game I thought Modric was good today. Man of the match had to be Vidic though. Straight out of the top drawer.

I have read a few times that Rooney is playing himself back into form but truthfully he has been very poor for a few months now. 160k a week or not, it is time for him to find his arse on the bench.

Bill - January 16, 2011 Reply

I’d definitely have Hernandez start ahead of Rooney. I think the gaffer will have a few words with Rafael about his discipline. He shouldn’t have be sent off but I thought he was going to assault the ref at one point!!!

han - January 16, 2011 Reply

the ref was a blind twat
rafa should have lamped the cunt

sports24x - January 16, 2011 Reply

red was really harsh…

Neil_barsley - January 17, 2011 Reply

I’m really happy with a point considering we really didn’t look like scoring. I thought Rooney was reclaiming his form but his touch was really poor today. Anderson seemed to give the team a little forward momentum. But all in all Tottenham didn’t really seem capable of scoring. Well done defense.

Joeb690 - January 17, 2011 Reply

Hernandez should be given a couple of games ahead of Rooney to prove his worth and allow Rooney to contemplate his form. He is most certainly a fantastic player but there is something not right. Whatever it is I hope he comes to terms with it sooner rather than later. Also as far as I’m concerned Carrick shouldn’t even be on the bench he is woeful and brings nothing to the team.

mongoletsi - January 17, 2011 Reply

Over-hyped or not, Spurs are genuine top 4 contenders these days. A point is always satisfactory at the Bridge and Emirate and a loss there is never ruled out. A fine point really, esp down to 10 men.

Triggs - January 17, 2011 Reply

Wretched performance from Rooney – gave the ball away over and over again. But he was still our most dangerous player and was unlucky not to score, weird. Nani didn’t turn up and Giggs had a poor game too which left Berba isolated.

Vidic and Rio were brilliant as was Rafael until his sending off, which was quite clearly harsh. Not a bad result, but we’re gonna have to go away from home and win against one of the top 6 at some point.

herbie simms - January 17, 2011 Reply

Its what I’ve being saying all along. If Rooneyis not scoring goals and if Berbatov is having an off day, then we have to depend on super sub Hernandez to win the game for us. Rooney, for some reason has lost his killer instinct. That must be a concern to SAF. I’m beginning to wonder whether Rooney really wants to play for United or does he want to move somewhere else.

ian - January 17, 2011 Reply

Herbie, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Everything about Rooney’s play suggests that, for some reason which we are not aware of, he wants to move on. I think it impossible that he will be sold in the next two weeks, but he is not having a positive effect on the team, & if things don’t change a lot for the beter we should definitely not have him on board next season.

Triggs - January 17, 2011 Reply

Yes, there’s something not right.

It’s still not clear whether this is a fitness/form issue or whether there’s a more fundamental problem between Rooney and United/Fergie.

By the end of the season, if these performances continue, you’d have to conclude that it’s the latter and therefore expect him to leave the club.

herbie simms - January 17, 2011 Reply

We talking about the midfield and that we need an attacking playmaker midfielder. But I keep looking at the tapes of the games over and over and my problem is my strikers. Rooney playing the role now of more of s set up man, so its putting more pressure on Berbatov to score the goals. You see Tevez, he is on fire! We can get further ahead of the rest of the teams points wise, if we can bury the lower placed teams and have a Rooney with more killer instinct. This present team can win this league. Maybe SAF can start more games with Hernandez and use Rooney as a super sub. That might make Rooney more hungry to come on, attack and score goals. If that don’t work, then theres something going on inside with Rooney.

Bill - January 17, 2011 Reply

Anderson gave us more energy when he came on. Definitely should start over Carrick in a 4-4-2.

steggo - January 17, 2011 Reply

Rooney was absolute rubbish.Why?Because he won’t be at the club much longer.A deal was done some time ago.It will turn out to be good business by Fergie.

Ashish - January 17, 2011 Reply

Considering that we were supposed to play with 15-20 with 10 men….a draw isn’t a bad result.

Vidic was an absolute beast…he singlehandedly kept Spurs at bay.

The decision to send Rafael off was pathetic……he was justified in showing his anger towards the ref.

herbie simms - January 17, 2011 Reply

Rafael is having a great season. Really a class attacking full-back. Once Fabio gets up to standard, the defence should be solid for years to come. Vidic, in his position must be the numder one in Europe.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - January 17, 2011 Reply

fabio won’t make it as a first teamer, he’s miles behind rafa and he’s wrong footed,

rios better than vidic

the midfields obviously a bigger problem than the attack ffs

han - January 17, 2011 Reply

expect rafael to be bent over and buggered collectively by the cuntish FA (fucking arseholes) since he has been given a misconduct charge for his reaction against the prick dressed in black yesterday

sheesh - January 17, 2011 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Rafael is having a great season. Really a class attacking full-back. Once Fabio gets up to standard, the defence should be solid for years to come. Vidic, in his position must be the numder one in Europe.

Fabio’s problems are that:

1) he is competing with Evra for the left back position and;
2) he always seems to get injured when he steps onto a pitch.

Alfonso Bedoya - January 17, 2011 Reply

uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
fabio won’t make it as a first teamer, he’s miles behind rafa and he’s wrong footed,

rios better than vidic

the midfields obviously a bigger problem than the attack ffs

FFS Knobby… he’s only 20 years old, hardly had a chance to play, and you’ve written him off already.

If I’m not mistaken, he was supposed to be the better of the two, and he was captain of their team… give him a chance.

Calvino - January 17, 2011 Reply

Fabio is not a LB really. If he wants to make that position his after Evra leaves then he needs to watch as many tapes/dvds of Irwin as he can find. And I mean every day! He then should spend hours after practise crossing with his left foot as that is the only way he can make it at United. Rafael has the RB slot sewn up for good.

As per the game, in the second half Carrick did grow a pair. The subbing of Nani was mindboggling to be fair. Against a young and athletic team like Spurs we would have been better served having Nani go left while taking Giggs off.

Seriously folks, I ask again: what is the point of Berbatov?? PL top scorer somebody will scream am sure. How many games has he scored in is a much better way of looking at it. I can not stand the fellow and he is a waste of money. He should not have started yesterday even. It was mysterious to me that we had no other wide player on the bench as I would have preferred Obertan coming on with Rooney upront alone.

Given Rafael’s silly sending off am happy with a point.

ian - January 18, 2011 Reply

Forget Berbatov & Rooney. I think that if we had Valencia & Nani wide & Carroll central, & Newcastle would sell, we would trouble any team in England & in Europe.

Alfonso Bedoya - January 18, 2011 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Forget Berbatov & Rooney. I think that if we had Valencia & Nani wide & Carroll central, & Newcastle would sell, we would trouble any team in England & in Europe.

FFS… why not just find the worlds two best crossers of the ball, and a 7ft tall centre forward with a bonce like a Rolls Royce grill… that should work as well.

We need a bastard midfield. That would bring out the best in Rooney and fix most of our problems.

Geno - January 18, 2011 Reply

Personally I don’t think SAF believes Rooney wants to leave, because if he’d written Rooney off he wouldn’t be starting him! Yes, Ronaldo was an automatic starter during his final season, despite the handshake deal he had with SAF to sell him to Real, but his form was fantastic and he provided an attacking threat that helped United win the league. Rooney’s form is wretched, and I think if SAF really thought Rooney was off in the summer then he would bench him and start Chicharito.

I think SAF’s conundrum is that Rooney is the sort of individual who has to play himself back into form. With another player, SAF could take him aside and tell him that he was taking him out of the firing line for a while and giving him a chance to recover his form in the reserves. With Rooney, I think that approach would lead to an irrecoverable drop in form and in fact probably would lead to him submitting a transfer request!

The other conundrum SAF has, to my mind, is that whatever he might say in public to boost Berba’s ego and confidence, I don’t believe SAF deep down is prepared to put all of his title hopes on Berba’s shoulders. I suspect SAF just can’t get past Berba’s anonymous performances against Chelsea and Blackburn last season out of his mind – 2 matches that cost us the title. So SAF has to balance the fact that he’s got one striker that he basically can’t bench unless he’s given up on him (Rooney) and another striker that he knows he can’t rely on for a goal return (Berbatov).

The consolation that SAF has is that Chicharito in his first season in English football is already proving to be a bit of a super-sub…so if it’s all going wrong up top, SAF can hook one of the strikers and bring Chicharito on.

Chicharito came on late against Spurs but I think SAF was happy with a point at White Hart Lane. If we win all of our home matches, start winning against the bottom 12 or so sides away and hold the other top 5 teams away, we’ll win the title.

I do think the side is in desperate need of regeneration over the summer, particularly the midfield, but while I’m optimistic about our title chances this season, I’m very pessimistic that Gill and SAF will spend big in the summer. I’m pretty sure that SAF will bring Welbeck and Cleverly into the senior squad and say they’re as good as 2 new signings…as if.

Love United, hate the Glazers!

SKW - January 18, 2011 Reply

Our mids were awful. Spurs overran us in the middle of the park. For all the hatred on here about Rooney, he was the only attacking player who looked like getting a goal, and if he had some mids behind him, he might have scored 5.

Our defense was immense.

But is anyone other than me getting tired of watching this team? They are not terribly exciting. I am remembering here a column Ed wrote about not playing pretty any more. We are like paint drying these days. Like Arsenal of old…

herbie simms - January 18, 2011 Reply

SAF is saying that Rooney is playing his way in. A natural striker does not play his way in. Rooney is playing well in the role he is playing, but as a striker, he has lost his killer instinct and thats were the problem lies. He is not goal hungry as he was last season.
I watch Tevez, he goes back and helps out the midfield, gets the ball back and comes storming forward like a madman, heading for goal. He fires on all cylinders like a man possessed. Rooney has just lost that drive and I just can’t figure it out. I tell you who does have that killer instinct and that is Bebe, but he is not ready yet. He is of the same breed as Tevez but he needs to work on a few simple things before he gets another run out. Next season, you will see a different Bebe in a strikers role.

Alfonso Bedoya - January 18, 2011 Reply


Herbie… what colour is the sky on your world?

ffs mate…

bman - January 18, 2011 Reply

I want what he’s smoking.

bman - January 18, 2011 Reply

One positive to take away from the match is our bench. On the bench against Spurs we had: GK – Scrabble; Defenders – Evans & Smalling; Midfield – Scholes & Anderson; Forwards – Owen & Hernandez. The average quality of our extended squad is easily the best in the league, the problem is our first 11 is not. It’s been that way for a while now.

odbpowell - January 18, 2011 Reply

Top players don’t spend four months playing their way into form. Top players can control a football. Rooney, sad as it is to say it, is no longer a top player.

He’s just a pretty good one. So let’s move on and hopefully buy a top player in the summer (after we’ve won some trophies).

herbie simms - January 18, 2011 Reply

Yes, Bebe! 7 million pound man. If he was not worth the money, SAF would have sent him out on loan already or got rid of him. You have not heard much about him lately but watch out when he hits the field of play again.

Ed - January 18, 2011 Reply

I think he’d be embarrassed at Championship level too

GeorgiaJon - January 18, 2011 Reply

Don’t know why we didn’t start with a 4-5-1. As soon as I saw Carrick and Fletcher in the middle I thought where the hell is the creator/attacker? Rooney played pretty badly, but Berba didn’t play at all.

Still, a great point to get, all things considered.

I was AMAZED at how many times we passed back to VDS, who must’ve had 1000% more touches on the ball than Berba…

ian - January 18, 2011 Reply

The defence might have it, bit I am becoming concerned about Spurs. They are looking to improve a half decent team; we don’t seem to be.

ian - January 18, 2011 Reply

Ed, I agree. That is, apart fron Ralph Milne, the most bizarre signing I have ever seen. I admit I have not watched him in the reserves but I think the odds of him ever playing regularly are more than 1000 to 1.

han - January 19, 2011 Reply

ralph milne – fs there have been worse examples of bizarre signings
djemba, kleberson, poborsky who cost millions – milne was cheap believe me

Ted - January 19, 2011 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Ed, I agree. That is, apart fron Ralph Milne, the most bizarre signing I have ever seen. I admit I have not watched him in the reserves but I think the odds of him ever playing regularly are more than 1000 to 1.

I remember us paying £28,000 for Ashley Grimes. Now he was fuckin bobbins mate!

uncleknobheadforfucksake - January 19, 2011 Reply

if anyone mentions webb they’re a cunt, good player

han - January 19, 2011 Reply

webb was a fine player – remember that pass to lee martin in the 1990 cup final replay which led to the only goal?
he was rather injury prone and sadly SAF lost faith in him
i read somewhere he is now a postman
so knobhead, u and i can agree on some things

han - January 19, 2011 Reply

i was at a united game in 1982 at west ham when ginger haired ashley grimes was sent off for tapping the refs shoulder i think – my 1st game watching united – lost 3-1 to the cockney cunts
fat ron was not happy

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