The Manchester United FC fell to a Tottenham Hotspur FC squad that has not lost since taking Tim Sherwood on as manager. This was the first time in 22 years that Manchester United has lost on New Year’s Day at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney returned to the United squad after missing time for a groin injury, but was unable to carry the team to victory despite some beautifully placed balls in on set pieces. He has developed a good working rhythm with Danny Welbeck up front in the extended absence of Robin van Persie, but that partnership was only able to produce one goal in the match. It was a nice shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, though perhaps as much about a brief lapse in attention from the Tottenham defense as stellar play from the Manchester United strikers.
With goals by Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen, Tottenham continued to prove Sherwood’s changes effective. The change in look to include two strikers up front has proven very successful. Roberto Soldado, who was ineffective in Andre Villas-Boas’ system up front alone, has been able to showcase his ball-handling and placement skill to maximum advantage now. Adebayor left the game early on a stretcher, the extent of his injury and potential time out has not yet been disclosed. Sherwood will certainly be looking to find someone to pair with Soldado in an effort to keep his renewed momentum going if Adebayor is sidelined for any amount of time. It may be a chance for Erik Lamela to get more time on the pitch. He has shown considerable skill in his few appearances this season, but it has been reported in recent weeks that he may be unhappy with his limited play and looking to move. If the Adebayor injury is significant, this may be an opportunity to get Sherwood to give him a chance.
The Manchester United FC fell to 7th place in the table, right behind the Tottenham Hotspur FC with the three points gained on Wednesday being the difference between them in the standings. That puts Manchester United now 11 points behind league-leading Arsenal FC. This loss at home was a difficult blow to take, but United remain in the top half and within striking distance. With van Persie said to be returning soon, there is still plenty of time for an unlikely run at the title. United would like to be able to play in the Champions League when the time comes. They are only five points away from the coveted top four spots, and bridging that gap and holding it will be the first obstacle in the climb towards the top.
It will require a more consistent output than the Manchester United squad has shown to date to make it happen. When Premier League play returns on January 11th, United will face Swansea in a match they are expected to take. Most fans are looking ahead to the showdown with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea FC squad on the 19th as a test of United’s ability to turn things around. When the Manchester United FC fell to Sherwood’s Tottenham Hotspur FC on Wednesday, it gave itself a New Year’s Day wake-up call that will need to be heeded if they are going to have any chance of making up ground in the months ahead.
By Jim Malone