Villa, Ardiles, Hoddle, Gascoigne, Klinsmann, Modric, Bale etc. etc. The list of rare and poetic players that have swooned the N17 crowd over the last couple of generations is, quite frankly, endless. A short delve through our clubs history (based on an unlikely statistic I heard on a hugely popular EA Sports game purchased 2 weeks ago) revealed a remarkable statistic. Our own inimitable style and brand of football has meant we’ve lifted at least one major trophy in each of the last six decades. Only Manchester United can join us on that particular pedestal. Along with most of the current Spurs faithful I’ve never known league success or sustained top flight European football, United fans can’t really say the same.
So where’s the difference?
After the 2-0 victory over Aston Villa last Sunday I indulged on one or two more Canadian highballs and developed a theory!.. In my opinion, we’ve always purposely had style over substance, Manchester United have done just the exact opposite.
In 2004, the Red Devils signed an 18 year old Wayne Rooney from Everton football club. He was an exciting, powerful, fire cracker of a player. He was an extraordinary talent, capable of scoring extraordinary goals and was completely unpredictable. The sports sections would be forever awarding him eight or nine out of ten, whilst cooing over his latest scintillating performance. There would, however be the sporadic occurrence when a match may almost pass him by. He got marked out, sent off or maybe he just forgot to eat his Weetabix and had an off day! The result? A four out of ten. At Manchester United this simply won’t stand. No amount of perfect scores will make up for a smattering of anonymous performances. At Old Trafford things are different. At Old Trafford the title is everything. At Old Trafford it’s substance over style. Subsequently the slightest whisper of inconsistency in young Rooney’s game was coached out of him within a couple of seasons (although Fergie now tells us he was a slow learner, hence the slightly dodgy disciplinary record!). Even Ronaldo was, to a certain extent shackled and informed that no amount of step overs or individual moments of genius win the Premier League. That requires all eleven men to receive no less than a seven out of ten every week, without fail. The team will always be more important than an individual. That isn’t the case at White Hart Lane.
So, what’s my point?
In the 2012/13 season, what was more important at The Lane? The team or Gareth Bale? How many times did we honestly look like a collective capable of winning a tough away fixture without the Welsh wizard?
Now, I know we haven’t exactly lit the Premier League up yet this term. We’re not as convincing in victory as Mourinho’s Chelsea or as exciting as that lot on the other side of north London. Yet we’re only one and three points behind them respectively. In addition, we will get better. AVB will find his best eleven. Soldado will start scoring regularly. Lloris and his merry men will keep more clean sheets. We will gel. We will move the ball quicker. Collectively. We too will win ugly, and by any means. We already are (West Ham at home aside). Admittedly, we don’t have the player(s) that sparkle and excite us the fans now. That make us drool (Andros Townsend has a way to go yet) But… We do have an incredibly powerful, talented and technically astute squad. In stature, we look a little like Mourinho’s Chelsea side of old. Who,if needs be, can win just by bullying people. AVB has a plan.
You could argue that we’re losing our identity. Where’s the creative and free flowing, attacking football? Where are the dramatic 4-3 victories? We are becoming more prosaic and less poetic. However, if it results in success (or even better, silverware), we’ll not care a jot! Or will we?…
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