It's the same Old story for Spurs in Manchester
SPURS dropped limply out of the Carling Cup on Tuesday night as Harry Redknapp s side once again froze against a top-four side. While Tottenham currently occupy third place in the Premier League, they have now suffered defeat in four...
By Ben Pearce
SPURS dropped limply out of the Carling Cup on Tuesday night as Harry Redknapp's side once again froze against a top-four side.
While Tottenham currently occupy third place in the Premier League, they have now suffered defeat in four of their five meetings with the Big Four this season, failing to score in three of the clashes.
This was also the fifth time in a row that United had beaten Spurs in the league, FA Cup and Carling Cup over the last 10 months, and the Lilywhites still haven't won at Old Trafford for 20 years.
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Last season Tottenham were knocked out of the FA Cup in Manchester, before losing the Carling Cup final to the champions, and Tuesday's lacklustre performance suggested that Spurs were as good as beaten the moment the draw had been made.
Redknapp was understandably furious after watching his side simply go through the motions in a cup quarter-final.
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"I'm very disappointed," he said. "We are never going to get a better opportunity than we had in the first half. I think they had two shots on goal and scored twice. We had a lot of the ball, but never really made it count.
"We have been playing so well of late, but there was no atmosphere - in the stadium and in the game. It was played at a lethargic pace. It's a cup quarter-final, but there wasn't a tackle in the first half. It was like a friendly."
It took two teams to create such a game, but Redknapp will know that - had his team found top gear - this was a golden opportunity to progress into the two-legged semi-final.
As expected, the Spurs boss gave David Bentley, Alan Hutton and Gareth Bale a chance to shine, but otherwise he picked a first-choice team, including Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe.
Meanwhile, the home side's line-up was hardly weak, but Redknapp must have been rubbing his hands when he saw that Spurs would face Tomasz Kuszczak, Ritchie De Laet, Darron Gibson, Park Ji-Sung, Gabriel Obertan and Danny Welbeck instead of Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.
The scenario initially seemed perfect. Spurs looked better on paper, particularly in the centre with Jermaine Jenas and Wilson Palacios, and there was plenty of space for the visitors to employ their effective passing game.
Tottenham enjoyed the majority of possession, but they showed far too much respect and deference in the final third, and barely tested United's No2 Kuszczak.
Defoe was denied by a stunning block from De Laet, but Robbie Keane frustratingly opted not to pull the trigger when he had a sight of goal, instead weaving across the penalty area and losing the opportunity.
Spurs were sunk by two devastatingly accurate shots from 22-year-old Gibson before the break.
And, although Redknapp swapped Palacios for Tom Huddlestone, and introduced Peter Crouch, Tottenham barely threatened in the second half. It rather looked like they expected to lose all along.