Joe Hart steps up to the plate
One of the most pressing pre-season questions has been who Mancini would opt for on the opening day of the season. Would he go for the experience of Shay Given or the youthful promise of
The roots of Spurs’ siege
We did not help ourselves. Micah Richards in particular had a woeful opening game, ripped to shreds by Gareth Bale every time the Spurs winger attacking. Not too long ago, Richards was harping on about how he had taken Mancini’s words to heart and accepted that he must improve his concentration levels if he is to warrant a place in the starting eleven. He may be able to talk a good game but there was zilch evidence of his improved concentration at
It would be unfair to just slate Richards with giving away the ball when this right through the team, meaning that we had little time to develop the composure in order to build attacks. Shaun Wright-Phillips was once again wasteful in possession, but Yaya Toure and David Silva and even Carlos Tevez were guilty of aimless balls.
Of all the new signings, I thought Alexsandar Kolarov had the most solid debut, dealing well with Aeron Lennon and getting forward himself, only to be nullified by the
Second half revival
Things couldn’t get any worse after the break, and they didn’t as we came back into the game. I completely back Mancini’s decision to give Carlos Tevez the captaincy. Whilst the Argentinean’s English may not be the best, he leads by example on the pitch. He is still our best player, still at the centre of most of our attacking play. He was much more able to effect our game in the second half, coming deep to find the ball, buzzing around the edges of the area, drifting to wide positions. He was our all action hero and a constant menace to Spurs.
No matter how much of a battering you take in these kinds of games, if you can keep things all square, there will always be something that falls to you. That chance fell to SWP just after the restart, with Yaya dropping a perfectly flighted ball behind the Spurs defence to set up Shaunie one on one with Gomes. Unfortunately though, the little winger wanted too much time and the defender managed to get back into position and clear the lines.
Taking the positives
A special mention for Yaya Toure, who I think could well become a unique player for us. On the surface he is a defensive midfielder, but underneath this exterior there is a wealth of attacking potential. We saw elements of this against
But for their wastefulness and Hart’s brilliance, Spurs should’ve been at least 2-0 up at half time. Prior to the game I had defensive concerns – particularly Kolo and Richards – but in the end our resilience enabled us to hold off Redknapp’s men, something we could not do last season. Whilst we didn’t look at sharp as our opponents, we kept on going. We gave away possession too much and were too often second to the ball, but this sharpness will come with more games.
I also had concerns over communication and team cohesion. David Silva started slowly and was caught in possession on occasion, but by the second half he looked far more comfortable and the signs of a good understanding with Tevez were there. The Spaniard has a fantastic touch.
We looked like half a team and half a group of talented individuals, but the fact that we kept Spurs out showed that we fought well. In the long run, I think this draw will serve us well.
This was a better point for us than it was for them.