Saturday 17 March 2018

Villas-Boas: Spurs ready for United

Tromso 0 Tottenham 2

Brad Friedel warms up before Tottenham's game against Tromso
Brad Friedel warms up before Tottenham's game against Tromso

Julian Bennett

Tottenham HOTSPUR manager Andre Villas-Boas believes his players are ready to take on Manchester United after this disappointing display in northern Norway -- and says the Premier League champions could be the perfect opponents for his side.

The Portuguese has been under huge pressure following the 6-0 defeat to Manchester City and would have wanted rather more than a low-key display some 217 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

An own goal from Adnan Causevic opened the scoring and Mousa Dembele made it two, but attention then immediately turned to White Hart Lane and High Noon on Sunday.

Indeed, Villas-Boas had to deal with an interview from former Spurs chairman Alan Sugar claiming he should be replaced by the now retired Alex Ferguson -- "I think it is pretty fair with the record he has, he would be a pretty good manager in every club in the world," smiled the Portuguese -- but his side will have to improve significantly, particularly after United won 5-0 at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

"I watched their game last night. It was a good performance, but has no bearing on Sunday," added Villas-Boas.


"It is important to recognise that we play the champions and they are on a good run. With such an impressive performance it can only be good for them. We don't expect an easy match.

"I suppose that they are (not) the best to play after City, but that is what the calendar says. Whoever we play we have to bounce back. The players will be mentally ready."

Yet it was a surprise that he backed his team quite so resolutely after a tricky night in the capital of the Arctic.

"I am very happy for the players to have bounced back from the defeat against Manchester City," he said.

"Obviously, the opponents we have on Sunday are the biggest that we can have, but tonight it was important to get back to winning ways."

Tottenham struggled on what was an artificial pitch that had to be cleared of snow both before the game and at half-time.

Zdenek Ondrasek could have given Tromso the lead after just 33 seconds -- Spurs conceded to City after just 14 -- but from then on the visitors took charge without ever looking ready to strike a decisive blow.

Nacer Chadli fired over when well placed and Etienne Capoue's shot was deflected just wide, but the performance

of £26m man Roberto Soldado will again worry Tottenham.

The Spaniard did not have a single shot and his frustration was clear when he picked up a booking early in the second half for a poor tackle.

For over an hour last night Spurs never looked like finding the net. But then they got a slice of luck as Vlad Chiriches and Causevic slid in to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick, the ball bouncing into the net off the latter for an own-goal.

It was two shortly after when Dembele finished well from the impressive Sigurdsson's through-ball, and the Belgian should have had a third when he hit the post and fired the rebound wide.

Tromso were gallant yet limited opponents and the visitors should have scored far more. Two did the job, though, as Spurs secured top spot in Group K.

Irish Independent

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