Man United v Spurs: Why Change a Winning Side?

harry redknapp 300x187 Man United v Spurs: Why Change a Winning Side?

That’s the question I was asking as soon as the team news came out and we saw Harry Redknapp had moved Benoit Assou-Ekotto from left back to right back; Gareth Bale from left midfield to left back, and Luka Modric from center midfield to left midfield.  All to accomodate the return to action of Wilson Palacios from a two game suspension, which left Younes Kaboul (who had been at right back for the last two matches) starting on the bench.

Aside from a great team spirit, Spurs had a wonderful balance in the side for the home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea;  Bale marauding up and down the left hand side, helping out defensively while also serving as the main outlet in the attack.  Modric and Tom Huddlestone providing calm on the ball in the center of the park; even though both are rather suspect defensively, the Spurs team defended wonderfully as a unit: from Gomes being in the form of his Spurs career at the back, to Michael Dawson dominating everything in the air and on the ground (get the man an England cap already!).  Even Kaboul, though not first choice as a right back, performed adequately enough there, in a position he has a good amount of experience with from his Portsmouth days.

I see the point of adding Palacios away at Old Trafford, but Assou-Ekotto should have never been asked to play right back.  It’s somewhat ironic to me as a Spurs fan, that a year ago we seemingly had 52 right backs on the roster, and today we went in starting with a converted left-back there, and ended with slotting in a defensive midfielder there (Palacios).  Is it any wonder the two penalties Spurs gave away were both by the out-of-position right backs?

Obviously it’s easy to second guess after the fact, but I would’ve kept Bale and Assou-Ekotto down the left with Kaboul at RB.  Bale at left back can work against lower sides which provide Spurs time and space to pick out passes, but you want Bale in midfield against the tougher teams, as then it greatly eases his defensive duties and allows him to get forward.  It’s no wonder Spurs looked much more dangerous in the second half when Bale was moved back to midfield.  If I had to start Palacios, I would’ve either put five in midfield, sacrificing either Jermain Defoe or Roman Pavlyuchenko, or left out David Bentley (hopefully with Lennon finally back we’ve seen the last of him for the season), and moved Modric to the right.

But ideally, I would’ve left Palacios on the bench to start, and used the same team shape that defeated Arsenal and Chelsea.  After all, why change a winning side?

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19 Responses to Man United v Spurs: Why Change a Winning Side?

  1. Dharmen says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Only difference is I would have started with Palacios too but Kaboul at rightback and sacrificed one of the strikers. You can’t go to old trafford and expect to have 2 strikers only to attack on the break. Bad tactics by Harry unfortunately. Hopefully the arse does us a favour and make this loss insignificant

  2. Dazspur says:

    Why change a winning side? Because we were playing away. Bit surprised to see BAE at RB an Palacios did not have a good first 1/2. But at nil all, not a bad first half. Palacious played great in the 2 nd half. No issue with the penalties and brilliantly taken by Giggs given Gomes went the right way. Thought we would run all over them at 1-1 but not to be. Happy with the way we played and no critiscm from my side on Arry’s tactics…we had our chances.

  3. Dazspur says:

    Phillip…you are right and your artcile makes sense. Had it been a home game, sure I would have said Palacious on the bench, but I think the away game strategy played its part. I probably would have preferred Kaboul at LB. Mind you, BAE did pull off a string of fantastic tackles in the role.

    It is one of those situations that people would have bayed for blood if it was a home game…exactly…why change…but obviously Arry felt he need a different strategy. and hey, that is why he is the Manager and we are armchair critics.

  4. Bishopville Red says:

    Fergie hasn’t played the same 11 in over 100 matches. Y=T ink Harry realized a few things:

    Six points from Arsenal, Chelsea and United was a pretty good haul; probably more than he anticipated when working out the run in.

    Winning at Old Trafford? Difficult at the best of times, let alone with a United who are MUST win and a Spurs side whose play won’t let anyone take them for granted.

    Three in a row against the big for might be a bridge too far. 2 for 2 was pretty damn good, but three is asking a lot.

    The three points the earn next week with a slightly fresher squad will be worth just as much as any other three points you get for a win. With City on the last day you’d hate to drop points to Bolton and render the occasion moot. Conversely, going into City bouyed by a strong performance the last time out will offer an edge.

    MAybe he saw something in training that told him to do this. Spurs have a terrible habit of being happy with “good enough”. Perhaps he saw a level of contentedness in the regulars that forced a shake-up for today.

    HArd to tell. But what we do know is that Bale, and Modric were pretty quiet, Palacios was only noticed wan an old man was nicking the ball off him or he was giving up clumsy penos.

    In the end, if losing to United recharges the focus so Spurs finish strong and grab fourth, I don’t think too many Spurs fans will be complaining about today’s affair.

  5. big stu says:

    When will our manager learn that playing top teams away 4-4-2 is no good against 4-5-1

    We lose these games away from home always in midfield every time!!

  6. limassolyid says:

    Redknapp …….what a twat as soon as we started plaing well with Lennon and Gudjonsen on he broght on Crouch and killed our game unbeleivable

  7. Why change a winning side? Cause the manager is so far up his own arse. Spot on article. Still lots to play for if Harry can step up as well.

  8. KingYid says:

    Palacios was crap. Obviously hasn’t learnt from the penalty he gave away in his last match. How many penalties has BAE now given away this year? 3? 4?

    There was no work ethic today. Our play was far to direct. We rushed what few chances we had andgave the ball away far too cheaply. Man Utd weren’t that great today. We were just shit. Thought I was watching the semi final again

    • Harry accommodated Palacios today by switching BAE to the right where he is a liability and Bale to left back where he is least effective. Palacios looked knackered and was not worth the gamble and it was a shame we did not start with the team that outplayed Chelsea as I was looking forward to Bale marauding down the left. Man U were petrified of Bale. Hence, all the mind games before the match about SAF putting in an offer. No reason to put him out of harms way by sticking him at left back though Harry.

  9. Dominic says:

    I personally think we should have started with Karboul at RB and BAE at LB and Bale at LM. Basically the same team against chelsea but with Gudjohnson instead of Defoe as he’s fantastic with controlling the ball. Even at half time Glenn Hoddle commented about out RB and any mistakes looks to come from there and i thought Harry would consider us lucky that nothing happened by half time and would have made the change. For second goal Bale was guilty of ball watching as he should have tracked down Nani the other 2 are stupid harsh challenges to concede. Hope Ars can win against ManC

  10. Dominic says:

    Looking from a different prospective if some one offered 6 points straight after the wembley defeat anyone would have grabbed it. On the positive side ManC don’t have easy game as they have to play us Villa and West ham. Looking at the late game today they might get 1 point hope they lose.

  11. dean says:

    The Sargent just got demoted to Private today. Palacious was crap and is a one dimensional player. However, I can understand Harry bringing him in. Safety first for Harry. Unfortunately, only the brave go forward. This was definitely a step back. Remember Harry blew it big time at White Hart lane against Man U by tacking Charlie off and brnging Hutton on and both goals came through Hutton mistakes. I think Harry is a little intimidated by Man U and just doesn’t have the beleif required to make sound decisions, but then who can blame him, it is Man U. Anyway, it was always going to come down to the Man City game to decide who gets 4th, so lets hope Harry grows the balls reqiured to get back on track, and hopefully Charlie gets healthy.

  12. dean says:

    The Sargent just got demoted to Private today. Palacious was crap and is a one dimensional player. However, I can understand Harry bringing him in. Safety first for Harry. Unfortunately, only the brave go forward. This was definitely a step back. Remember Harry blew it big time at White Hart lane against Man U by tacking Charlie off and bringing Hutton on and both goals came through Hutton mistakes. I think Harry is a little intimidated by Man U and just doesn’t have the beieif required to make sound decisions, but then who can blame him, it is Man U. Anyway, it was always going to come down to the Man City game to decide who gets 4th, so lets hope Harry grows the balls required to get back on track, and hopefully Charlie gets healthy.

  13. Rick says:

    9 mins to go it’s 1-1, then a wonder goal by Nani and another stupid pen.
    I was worried that United would get a pen today but to give away to cheap pens is a real shame. Our best player in recent weeks (Bale) was played in a postion where he couldn’t perform, was really looking forward to seeing Bale run at the United defence today…..really hope he is not played as a LB anymore. We didn’t attack United today for some reason and the passion against Arsenal and Chelsea seemed to be missing.

    6 points out of 9 against the big 3 is still a masterclass by Harry and Spurs though. Massive effort for the last 3 games is needed..

  14. Tyson says:

    I think putting the loss at Redknapps door is a little harsh while I agree with some of your assessment playing United at Old Trafford is never an easy game I think Redknapp was trying to improvise and it didn’t seem to work but it was always going to be a difficult game.

    Still 6 points out of 9 from Chelsea, Arsenal and United. Certainly can’t complain about that. Well done Spurs.

  15. Elsie Misbourne says:

    Telling point by the poster who pointed out that both pens were given away by out of position players. The defending margins are really thin. I was appalled when I saw the line up. We beat Chelsea by dragging their central midfielders out wide. Modric had been wonderful pulling the strings in midfield, Bale and Assou had been a terrific partnership on the left. So what does Harry do? He moves all three of them. WHAT WAS HE THINKING. At the end of the day, six points from the three games is ok and noone looking at the results will see this as a terrible setback, but I can’t remember anticipating a game so hopefully and being so angry at the way things turned out. I do blame Harry.

  16. patrick says:

    your manager is famous for saying, “Dani is so good-looking I don’t know whether to play him or f**k him”

    clearly he was conflicted today.

  17. patrick says:

    and if this isn’t proof at how fickle Spuds fans are, then well… you not being objective.

  18. Mark Flint says:

    On the positive side, Dawson looked great, and Lennon was a huge spark.
    Look forward to seeing Bale and Lennon playing outside at the same time, as the season unfolds.

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