Manchester United miss their chance to close the gap

GIVEN the gulf in quality between Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United in 3rd place in the Barclay’s Premier League, this goalless draw at White Hart Lane could be seen as two dropped points in the pursuit of the top-two. On reflection this was a game in which all three results were possible to the final whistle in the truest sense of the cliché.

From a United perspective, Louis Van Gaal has brought the aura back at Old Trafford. United now have players who are worthy of the shirt playing in the First XI, players who have sacrificed themselves for the team. Paddy McNair has been mature beyond his years this season at only 19. Academy Graduates in the First Team. Evans, McNair, James Wilson. United 3-0 City. Last season was to be expected after the production of silverware on an industrial scale under Sir Alex from Govan, but the scale of the decline was not entirely negative. The downturn in fortunes has returned the club to the proper hard-core fans who stand in West Stand Tier Two, and especially those who go away, week in, week out.Louis van Gaal

United should have capitalised on the plethora of chances they had in the first half. Radamel Falcao would have scored if he was sharper and more match-fit but his weak effort was saved by Hugo Lloris, who had another excellent game. Juan Mata gets out-muscled in the middle of midfield if he is not given the foundation to go forward by a defensive midfielder. Wayne Rooney is a wonderful, unselfish footballer, always offering for the ball and the first to rise in his own area for clearing headers. Jan Vertonghen had a great game and goes under the radar as far as the best central defenders in The Barclays Premier League are concerned.

The Tottenham man of the match was Christian Eriksen, tireless and always giving an outlet. For United, the substitution of Antonio Valencia in favour of Rafael completely changed the dynamic of the game. It allowed Andros Townsend to make hay down the right side, whilst United’s attacking down the right in the first half had pinned him back. Tottenham are fortunate that many of the clubs in the Top 7 will fall away. They should have bought guaranteed goals with the Bale money, or even shown more backbone to keep him and built a side around the Welsh Wizard. Pochettino looks out of his depth his involvement at Premier League level is cringe worthy, with little or no credentials to be managing at a club with such a standing in the game as Tottenham. British coaches are now unattractive in football’s impatient world.

0-0 was a fair result. Tottenham should have won it as Ryan Mason fired over late on. United fans in the top tier insisted the Premier League’s best keeper David de Gea got a touch on it. If there had been goals in the game I think it would have still been a draw given two unsure defences. There were more positives in the game from a United perspective, but that is only after Chelsea and Manchester City failed to make United pay and stretch further clear later in the day. Another clean sheet, unbeaten in 13 and have won 7 of the last nine. United are back, at least statistically, but still look like a sports car yet to reach top speed in stop-start traffic at the crowded Champions League crossroads. United are comfortably the third-best team in the country, and for now, that will do. For Spurs, the lack of improvement season after season is frustrating, and puts them in the same predicament as their North London neighbours. The move to a new stadium cannot come fast enough because it frees capital and revenue streams which can be used to establish Spurs as an elite club. United are judged harsher than any other club in Britain, and it should be put on ice for another twelve months. Next Christmas will be the testing ground for the promising foundations being built in M16 by The Iron Tulip.