The betting odds for this match suggest United will be too strong for The Potters but they’ll have to do it without a host of youngsters and also a surprise deadline day target.
David Moyes ruled out any new arrivals early in the day then the club spent the rest of deadline day shipping out youngsters to the four corners of the Football League in what looked the polar opposite of a spending spree.
Birmingham acquired Tom Thorpe, Tyler Blackett and Frederico Macheda while Wilfried Zaha (loan) and Fabio opted to team up with Ole Gunnar at Cardiff City, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe reacquainted themselves with favourite coach, Rene Muelensteen at Craven Cottage all suggesting there seems to have been mass exodus of unsettled fringe players looking to use the second half of the season as a shop-window in which to find themselves a new challenge beyond Manchester United.
Things, however, could have taken a whole different turn had Spurs accepted United’s offer for Andros Townsend, which included Nani going to White Hart Lane in a straight swap for the England winger.
Reports today suggest that United and Spurs had opened talks earlier in the week and Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, seemed eager to complete the swap, before pulling the plug on any possible deal.
United’s wingers this season have been horrendously inadequate to United’s expectations – although, sadly, they’ve looked incredibly adequate in United’s dire and boring football – with Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Nani himself looking increasingly out of their depth at a club the size of United.
Nani, in particular, must feel his time at the club is up, for having impressed in pre-season and despite having been rewarded with a new five-year deal – five years! Let that sink in – the Portuguese has been at the margins of David Moyes’ squad, with injuries derailing his season.
Nani has made just five league starts this season and his only goal this season came in his only Champions League appearance, away at Leverkusen, arguably his and United’s standout performance this campaign.
Quite, however, why Moyes would have swapped Nani for Andros Townsend is anyone’s guess, given the Spurs winger has hardly set the world alight himself, scoring once in 10 Premier League starts and, crucially, registering a big, fat, zero in the assists column.
The Spurs winger burst onto the scene in October, when he netted on his debut for England, but has since largely regressed into his shell as a player and many have criticised his lack of imagination and the tendency to be too mono-dimensional for his own good and with Tim Sherwood replacing Andre Villas-Boas in the Spurs dugout, Townsend’s chances have been limited.
Given that Valencia and Young are about as predictable as the sun rising at dawn, United have probably dodged a bullet with Townsend and should, and hopefully would, look at much better wingers than Townsend in the summer.