Carrick Orchestrates Revenge On Redknapp
Last season we beat Tottenham at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup then crashed out to Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth. Well, we beat Spurs again but in the fifth round there's no Pompey and no Redknapp.
It felt sweet to take revenge on 'Arry who 1) blatantly lied about fielding a weakened team (OK, I know he retracted his comments in time but still) 2) his Portsmouth team was as ugly and negative as any relegation candidate - when they were fighting for Europe.
The Spurs team that visited Old Trafford had none of the bite of Redknapp's Portsmouth - actually, after they took the lead they were simply unable to resist United who switched up a gear. It was very sloppy defending by United: Huddlestone's cross was a good one but Vidic shouldn't have allowed Pavlyuchenko to get ahead of him and head the ball in. Foster, for some strange reason, didn't move, didn't even attempt to keep it out even though the header wasn't particularly strong.
But as I said United brushed Spurs aside after falling behind. Young Fabio was impressive on his debut and though Ronaldo was very quiet after an illness almost ruled him out of the game, Tevez, Berbatov and especially Welbeck made life very uncomfortable for Spurs defenders.
Soon chances started to come. Tevez rattled the crossbar with a ferocious shot, Scholes had two shots blocked, Berbatov fired wide from a good position, Tevez forced a save from Alnwick after good work from Fabio and Berbatov on the left... a goal was coming.
And it came, too, though in rather fortuitous circumstances. Carrick passed a corner to Scholes who was lurking on the edge of the area. The Ginger Ninja's (who didn't play well if we're honest: gave the ball away on countless occasions) effort wasn't too accurate or powerful but took a vicious deflection off Huddlestone and ended up in the net.
The crowd smelled blood, United smelled blood and the game was quickly turned on its head with a second goal which was about pure class. Scholes passed the ball to the excellent Carrick who looked up and with his first touch launched a defence-splitting long ball which Berbatov brought down and slotted home from 16 yards. Great finish but what a pass from Carrick who was having a quiet, understated belter of a game. Hopefully a sign that he's returning to his very best form.
It was clear that Spurs were grateful to reach the interval only one down as United pressed on for the remainder of the half but without success. The home fans expected that the team would take Tottenham apart with counter-attacks in the second half but it never happened. The second 45 minutes were, frankly, boring. The visitors looked tired which is no surprise given their midweek exertions while United looked like preserving themselves which is no surprise given our injury list and tremendous amount of fixtures.
In the end it was more tense than it should have been as United could not get that third goal and Spurs caused a little panic before the final whistle by pinging the ball into the box every time they had a chance to do so. But United held on and deservedly won the game to go through.
There were a couple of important things in the second half though, apart from the general tediousness. Zoran Tosic has made his debut for us: he played only 20 minutes and did not blow anyone away but he looks fairly skilful and quick. Nothing we didn't know though.
And there were the injuries, of course: Danny Welbeck and Fabio had to be substituted. At least now we really have a full-blown injury crisis, not just any old boring injury problems.