|photo by inkiboo||via PhotoRee|
This is farlieonfootie for January 12.Yesterday against Everton, Benoit Assou-Ekotto's thumper into the right corner of the net put an exclamation point on Spurs' remakable run. Unbelievably, after 20 games, Spurs are tied with United for second place in the League. But what's more, they look the more impressive side.
United's most recent endeavor against City showed that the Red Devils still have some teeth, but the near disaster that resulted in the second half from a City team down to ten men had to put a scare in United's fan base. Plus the introduction of Paul Scholes to team up with Giggs -- a player almost as old as FOF -- shows some good bit of desperation from Fergie. This is especially true in light of the fact that good ole Paul completed more passes in his short stint in this post-testimonial match than any other player on the pitch. Surely the boss-man will spin this as proof that he's as good as new; unfortunately, the reality is that it reflects very poorly on the side that was out there for the rest of the game.
There's been some talk that Fergie put in the old man just to underscore the desperation of United to its owners. As a plea, if you will, for more money for a new midfielder. I think this is overthinking it a bit. Fergie certainly craves about 40MM pounds to drop on another player (who doesn't?), but bringing Scholes in wasn't for show, it was because Fergie knows Scholes is the best he's got. As I believe some astute observer of this site wrote in: "For the first time, United is understanding what it's like to be a team like Spurs." Hurts a bit, doesn't it?
But back to Spurs, it's remarkable how well they've done assembling a team of talented players. And against Everton today, they also seemed to have invented some depth in the squad. Just when the disposable duo of Ledley King and William Gallas go down to injury, in pops Michael Dawson, and he picks up pretty much where he ended up before he was hurt so long ago.
And just when the Spurs lose both Scott Parker and Santos to injury, Livermore steps in and Aaron Lennon returns.
But in this League as it stands, making second in the table at 20 games amounts to making the playoffs, for now the real fireworks begin. It is now, not in the first half, when Champions are made, and in a League as competitive as this, it's easy to slip and fall. Can the Spurs hold on and mount a real challenge to the League? Can they actually beat United? Can they keep Bale and Modric healthy enough to last the year?
To Dream is to Do! (No, seriously, can someone explain to me what that means?)
AND NOW FOR A FEW NOTES AND ASIDES:
*** Sorry Vinnie, but your two-footed tackle against United was . . . a two-footed tackle. By rule, that's suspendable. I sympathize with the opinions of people like Warren Barton that back in the day that wasn't a foul because he caught all ball, but we've all seen the horrific compound fractures that can occur from this kind of thing. I'm all for some pushing and shoving, but those tackles have to go. And sorry, but the rule is incoherent if it only applies when it causes injury.
*** I couldn't help but note that newly-appointed QPR manager Mark Hughes has indicated that he is there for the long-term. Wow, what a monster mistake he made walking away from Fulham, because he couldn't satisfy his ambition. I suspect he realized being a manager of a Premier League team is a pretty good gig when it comes right down to it. You get to hang out on a soccer field with world class players AND you get paid some serious jingle for it. What's that thing about Pride being the worst vice?
*** Landon Donovan is back for Everton. The team looks awful right now and has been ravaged with injuries. Donovan, however, tracked down and turned back Aaron Lennon last night and Gareth Bale. He also put some clever passes into the center for his team. The EPL never seems ready for his speed, which makes sense because even though USA soccer isn't Spanish soccer, being the best player in the USA counts for something.
*** Wigan lost to some second division team the other day in the FA Cup. I'm not sure what their line-up was, and I'm not sure they cared that much. Unfortunately, they should have. Losses like that can do tremendous damage to a team's confidence. Not to pound Wigan, but they were frightfully lucky to stay up last year. I wish a team with more flare had beat them to it -- yep, I'm talking about Blackpool.
*** I have not yet watched the Carling Cup match between Liverpool and Manchester City. Unfortunately for the Reds, Stevie G. is still not a bonus for the Reds, but pretty much all they've got right now.