Ange Postecoglou knows James Maddison is eager to make up for lost time but has admitted the Tottenham playmaker found his spell on the sidelines tough.

Maddison will return for Friday’s visit of Manchester City in the FA Cup after almost three months without football due to ankle ligament damage.

It halted Maddison’s brilliant start to life at Spurs and Postecoglou revealed the England midfielder struggled at times during the longest absence of his career.

“Not low but it was tough for him, because he does love his football, he loves the environment of football clubs, he loves the dressing room,” Postecoglou said.

“He’s kind of a force within that. It’s hard for all players when they’ve got to go through rehab, especially a character like him.

“I suggest that our sports science staff wouldn’t enjoy the one-on-one with Madders. He’s more of a guy who wants to be in the group.

“We did send him away in the middle of it. We felt it was good for him to get away with his family, we sent a physio with him (to Dubai).

“I think that helped bridge that time. When he got back from that, he was refreshed.

“Once he could see the finish line of ‘OK, I’m getting to the tail end of it,’ you could see his spirits lift. It’s been good to get him back.

“I know what Madders expects and, in training, you wouldn’t know that he’s missed so much. The quality is there straight away and everyone notices it and he’s looking good physically.

“And he’s the kind of guy who will want to make up for lost time and come back in and make an impact straight away.”

Spurs have not played for two weeks and the break has enabled Maddison to return to full fitness while Ben Davies and Dane Scarlett have recovered from hamstring problems.

Dejan Kulusevski is also available after illness ruled him out of the 2-2 draw at Manchester United a fortnight ago, but Giovani Lo Celso is still sidelined with a muscle issue.

Postecoglou gave his squad four days off during their mid-season break and, while plenty travelled far and wide to the likes of Dubai and Miami, the coach stayed at home to catch up with his family, who were in Australia for Christmas, and also put plans in place for the future.

He added: “My family were away and they just got back, so it was some quiet time at home.

“I kind of use those moments to look a bit farther down and see stuff that needs to do. While the cold face of it is games to prepare for and win, there is some longer-term stuff I am still keen to build within the club.

“You start mapping out those things and see if we can make an impact now or a bit later or when we are going to make an impact.

“It all helps you to get to where you want. Everybody wants to get away but even if I got away I would be thinking along those lines.

“I take what I do really seriously and I feel that sometimes if I switch off for too long, I am kind of missing something. That is the way I am wired.”

James Maddison is available for Tottenham’s FA Cup tie with Manchester City but boss Ange Postecoglou has yet to make a decision on whether he will start Friday’s clash.

Maddison has not played for Spurs since he sustained ankle ligament damage in a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea on November 6.

England international Maddison flourished after he moved to the club in a £40million deal from Leicester last June, scoring three goals and providing six assists in 12 appearances, and he will return to action against FA Cup holders Man City.

Postecoglou revealed: “He’s trained all week and he is fine.

“He is available and ready to start… when someone is available I assume they are ready to start.

“Whether they do or not depends on what I see with everyone else tomorrow and I usually make those decisions on game day.

“Like I said, the beauty of it is he’s got through the week really well and is ready to go.”

The billionaire former owner of Tottenham Hotspur, Joe Lewis, has pleaded guilty in an insider trading case in the US, prosecutors have confirmed.

Lewis, 86, pleaded guilty in front of US District Judge Jessica Clarke on Wednesday to charges alleging he had committed securities fraud and conspired to commit securities fraud by insider trading.

“Today’s guilty pleas once again confirm – as I said in announcing the charges against Joseph Lewis just six months ago – the law applies to everyone, no matter who you are or how much wealth you have,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

“Billionaire Lewis abused inside information he gained through his access to corporate boardrooms to tip off his friends, employees and romantic interests.

“Now, he will pay the price with a federal conviction, the prospect of time in prison and the largest financial penalty for insider trading in a decade.”

Separately, Broad Bay Ltd, a company which is owned by Lewis, pleaded guilty and accepted its participation in hiding the billionaire’s stake in a pharmaceutical company. It will pay more than 50 million dollars (£39 million) in financial penalties.

Lewis’s lawyer David Zornow said that his client still has the right to appeal if he is sentenced to time in prison, according to Reuters.

The billionaire had in July denied the 16 charges of securities fraud and three charges of conspiracy that he was faced with. He will be sentenced on March 28.

According to prosecutors, he allegedly orchestrated “a brazen insider trading scheme” and passed secrets to romantic partners, personal assistants, friends and two co-conspirators.

The information allowed them to bet on companies which he had invested in, using information only those with access to the business could have known. It helped them earn millions of dollars, the case claimed.

Lewis built his wealth through the investment company, Tavistock Group, and bought a controlling stake in Tottenham Hotspur in 2001.

In 2022 he ceded control of the club and formally handed his stake to a family trust and has no day-to-day involvement with the club. Spurs declined to comment.

He was worth more than £5 billion according to the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List, being ranked as the 39th richest person in the country.

Clubs’ desire to avoid tough sanctions for financial rule breaches could be a big factor in the spectacular drop in Premier League transfer spending this month, a football finance expert has said.

Financial services firm Deloitte has told the PA news agency that by January 23 last year £435million had been spent by the 20 top-flight clubs – 10 times more than by the same date this year.

Spending reached a record £815m by the end of the January 2023 window, but so far this month Tottenham’s purchase of Romania defender Radu Dragusin from Genoa for a reported £26.7m is one of a small number of permanent deals to have been completed, with loan moves dominating.

The relative quiet comes following a 10-point deduction imposed on Everton in November by an independent commission for breaching the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR). The commission found the club had acted “irresponsibly” and concluded they “overspent”, largely on the purchase of new players.

Everton expect to learn the outcome of their appeal against that sanction by the end of next month, but were referred to an independent commission again earlier this month, along with Nottingham Forest this time, for breaching PSR in the period ending last season. Those cases should be resolved before the end of this season under a new fast-track process agreed by the clubs.

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, told PA: “It would be remiss not to talk about the impact (on transfer spending) of some of the regulatory moves that the Premier League has made and the independent bodies that work with the Premier League have made to really focus on how the Premier League is governed.

“You look at what’s happened with Everton, you look at what’s happened with Nottingham Forest, obviously there are ongoing investigations with other clubs as well.

“That will, I expect, have driven an underlying caution and also a real need to ensure that any value in the transfer market is as good as it possibly can be.”

Bridge did not rule out a “late flurry” of activity in the final week of the window but added: “I do think that some of those deals that maybe we’re used to seeing earlier in the window are either not being considered because of the regulatory challenge and the need to be compliant, which is a good thing, but also that element of the selling club really wanting to make sure that it drives the absolute value (of their players).”

Mauricio Pochettino endured a rocky start to life as Chelsea boss but has now guided the Blues to the Carabao Cup final as he looks to end his wait for a first trophy in English football.

The Argentinian has managed almost 400 games in England across spells with Southampton, Tottenham and now Chelsea but has yet to lift silverware in this country.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Pochettino has fared in his quest for trophies.

Southampton

2013/14

Having taken over during the previous campaign with Saints already out of both domestic competitions, Pochettino’s early involvement in the League Cup and FA Cup was brought to a close by Sunderland. The Black Cats won 2-1 in a fourth-round League Cup tie at the Stadium of Light before claiming a 1-0 victory in the FA Cup fifth round.

Tottenham

2014/15

While a 2-1 fourth-round FA cup defeat at home to Leicester and a 3-1 aggregate loss to Fiorentina in the last 32 of the Europa League hardly set the pulses racing in Pochettino’s first season at Spurs, he did almost start life in north London with a trophy. Home wins over Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Newcastle took Tottenham into a League Cup semi-final against Sheffield United, with a 3-2 aggregate success setting up a Wembley final against Chelsea, who ran out 2-0 winners.

2015/16

Pochettino suffered from second-season syndrome in the cup competitions, losing 2-1 to neighbours Arsenal in the third round of the League Cup and slipping to a fifth-round exit in the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace. Achieving European qualification in his first campaign at the helm also led to little as Spurs were thrashed 5-1 on aggregate by Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League last 16.

2016/17

A 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the fourth round of the League Cup was forgivable, but, having ensured a return to Champions League football, Pochettino’s Spurs were knocked out in the group stage and then slumped to a 3-2 aggregate loss to Gent in the Europa League last 32. There was some comfort from an FA Cup run that included wins over Aston Villa, Wycombe, Fulham and Millwall before Chelsea ran out 4-2 victors in a semi-final clash at Wembley.

2017/18

There was another fourth-round League Cup exit – this time in a 3-2 loss to West Ham – but this season saw Spurs top their Champions League group before agonisingly losing 4-3 on aggregate to Juventus in the last 16. There was more Wembley misery in the FA Cup as Spurs reached the semi-final for a second successive season, only to lose 2-1 to Manchester United, having taken the lead through Dele Alli.

2018/19

A forgettable FA Cup campaign ended with a 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace in round four, but even a penalty shootout loss to Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final was not the heartbreaking moment of Pochettino’s final full season in charge. Having secured memorable late wins over Manchester City and Ajax to reach the Champions League final, Spurs were second best as an early Mohamed Salah penalty and a Divock Origi goal saw Liverpool win 2-0 in Madrid.

Chelsea

2023/24

Having won Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France at Paris St Germain, Pochettino returned to England when he was appointed Chelsea boss last summer. While results in the Premier League have been mixed, the 51-year-old saw his side beat AFC Wimbledon, Brighton, Blackburn and Newcastle in the Carabao Cup before recovering from a 1-0 loss at Middlesbrough in the semi-final first leg to thrash the Sky Bet Championship side 6-1 on Tuesday night and reach Wembley – where either Fulham or Liverpool await.

What the papers say

Al-Nassr are planning to offer Manchester United a pair of “audacious” bids for midfielder Casemiro and defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the Daily Mail reports, in the wake of the Tottenham’s refusal to offload Emerson Royal to the Saudi league outfit.

Also from the Mail, Lyon are said to be targeting winger Arnaut Danjuma in the transfer window, as apparently the 26-year-old’s parent club Villarreal have become frustrated at his lack of game time while on loan at Everton.

According to the Sun, Manchester Untied are leading the race to sign Bologna’s Dutch forward Joshua Zirkzee despite interest from Arsenal.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Victor Osimhen: The 25-year-old has hinted that he is ready to leave Napoli, with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Real Madrid keen on the Nigerian, 90 Min reports.

Antonio Nusa: Newcastle are considering hijacking Tottenham’s proposed move for Club Bruges’ teenage forward, with Football Insider claiming he is seen as a direct replacement for Miguel Almiron who may leave Tyneside for Saudi side Al-Shabab.

Karim Benzema: Chelsea are interested in signing the 36-year-old French forward from Al-Ittihad, claims the Guardian.

Tottenham have allowed injured winger Ivan Perisic to join Hajduk Split on loan for the rest of the season, which will bring his time at the club to an end.

Perisic sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in September after appearing in Spurs’ first six matches of the new campaign under Ange Postecoglou.

The significant knee injury raised doubts over the prospect of Perisic featuring again for Tottenham with his deal set to expire this summer and an agreement has now been reached for the Croatia international to sign for Hajduk on loan.

Perisic progressed through Hajduk’s academy after being raised in Split, but never made an appearance for his boyhood club before he moved Sochaux in 2006 and spells with Club Brugge, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and subsequently Spurs followed.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial)

 

The 34-year-old always stated it was his desire to finish his career with Hadjuk and even if he cannot return to fitness during his loan spell this season, he is expected to sign permanently with the Croatian club in the summer.

Meanwhile, Tottenham have opened talks with Club Brugge over the signing of attacker Antonio Nusa, the PA news agency understands.

Spurs have held a long-standing interest in the 18-year-old and have moved to secure the services of the highly-rated Norway international this month.

The potential recruitment of Nusa would be Tottenham’s third addition of the January transfer window, but he would return to Club Brugge on loan for the remainder of the campaign, PA understands.

Nusa has built up a strong reputation since he made his Norwegian top-flight debut at the age of 16 in 2021 while at Stabaek.

He moved to Club Brugge later that year and hit the headlines when he scored on his Champions League debut against Porto.

Tottenham have continued to keep tabs on Nusa, who marked his full Norway debut in September with a goal against Jordan.

Postecoglou has already secured the signings of Radu Dragusin and Timo Werner this month.

Spurs have also been busy with outgoings with Djed Spence, Japhet Tanganga, Ash Phillips, Sergio Reguilon and Alfie Devine all finding new clubs for the second half of the season, while long-serving players Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier have departed.

Tottenham will listen to offers for Ryan Sessegnon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Bryan Gil, but young duo Alfie Dorrington and Jamie Donley are set to remain part of Postecoglou’s first-team squad despite numerous loan interest.

Tottenham have opened talks with Club Brugge over the signing of attacker Antonio Nusa, the PA news agency understands.

Spurs have held a long-standing interest in the 18-year-old and have moved to secure the services of the highly-rated Norway international this month.

The potential recruitment of Nusa would be Tottenham’s third addition of the January transfer window, but he would return to Club Brugge on loan for the remainder of the campaign, PA understands.

Nusa has built up a strong reputation since he made his Norwegian top-flight debut at the age of 16 in 2021 while at Stabaek.

He moved to Club Brugge later that year and hit the headlines when he scored on his Champions League debut against Porto.

Tottenham have continued to keep tabs on Nusa, who marked his full Norway debut in September with a goal against Jordan.

Ange Postecoglou has already secured the signings of Radu Dragusin and Timo Werner this month.

Spurs have also been busy with outgoings with Djed Spence, Japhet Tanganga, Ash Phillips, Sergio Reguilon and Alfie Devine all finding new clubs for the second half of the season, while long-serving players Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier have departed.

Tottenham will listen to offers for Ryan Sessegnon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Bryan Gil and Ivan Perisic, but young duo Alfie Dorrington and Jamie Donley are set to remain part of Postecoglou’s first-team squad despite numerous loan interest.

Tottenham defender Sergio Reguilon has joined Brentford on loan until the end of the season.

The Bees are short of full-back options with first-choice left-back Rico Henry ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.

Thomas Frank has used Aaron Hickey and even attacker Saman Ghoddos out wide, while also deploying a 3-5-2 formation, but will be able to call upon recognised left-back Reguilon for the remainder of the season.

Brentford head coach Frank said: “This is a very good signing for us. We’ve been talking for a while about how we need a good left-back and we managed to get a very good left-back.

“Sergio is a perfect fit for us: a proven Premier League player in every aspect. He fits what we want. He’s very offensive, has a very good cross and a very good left foot.

“He’s got the experience we need to complement the rest of the squad and he’s a good character.

“We need him, but I also think he needs us to show how good a footballer he is. I’m convinced that this will be a positive partnership.”

Reguilon spent the first half of the campaign with Manchester United and made 12 appearances, but returned to Spurs this month after Erik ten Hag’s side decided to activate a break clause in the deal.

Another temporary move away from north London was always expected with Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou boasting plenty of competition in the left-back area.

Brentford have secured Reguilon’s services in a straight loan deal with no option or obligation to make the transfer permanent, the PA news agency understands.

One-time Spain international Reguilon could make his Bees debut in Saturday’s Premier League home fixture with Nottingham Forest, but will sit out the trip to parent club Spurs on January 31 owing to the terms of his loan.

Tottenham defender Sergio Reguilon is set to join Brentford on loan until the end of the season, the PA news agency understands.

The Bees are short of full-back options with first-choice left-back Rico Henry ruled out of the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.

Thomas Frank has used Aaron Hickey and even attacker Saman Ghoddos out wide, while also deploying a 3-5-2 formation, but will be able to call upon recognised left-back Reguilon for the remainder of the season.

Reguilon spent the first half of the campaign with Manchester United and made 12 appearances, but returned to Spurs this month after Erik ten Hag’s side decided to active a break clause in the deal.

Another temporary move away from north London was always expected with Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou boasting plenty of competition in the left-back area.

Brentford have secured Reguilon’s services in a straight loan deal with no option or obligation to make the transfer permanent, PA understands.

One-time Spanish international Reguilon could make his Bees debut in Saturday’s Premier League home fixture with Nottingham Forest, but will sit out the trip to parent club Spurs on January 31 owing to the terms of his loan.

Tottenham new boy Radu Dragusin believes “the sky is the limit” after turning down Bayern Munich to join Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Having completed the loan signing of Germany forward Timo Werner last week, the north London club won the race to sign the Romania defender from under the noses of the Bundesliga giants.

Dragusin signed a six-and-a-half-year deal at Spurs after rejecting Bayern’s advances in a move that could eventually see Genoa receive up to £25million.

Asked if it was correct he had spurned Bayern, the 21-year-old said: “Yes, that is right.

“I chose Tottenham because I felt it was the right step for me and I had a really good conversation with the coach.

“I saw that they wanted me from a long time ago, like one month before the transfer window, so I thought this is the right choice for me.

“I really believe in this team and that it is a good environment for me to continue my career and to progress in this incredible stadium and team-mates.”

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Radu Dragusin (@radudragusin5)

 

Dragusin said it was an “incredible feeling” to make his debut as a substitute in Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Manchester United and believes exciting things are happening at Spurs.

“My dream was to play in the Premier League, so that was part of it,” he said of the decision to join Tottenham.

“I think the team here, the guys here, are on a good trajectory. I felt joining them can help me a lot.

“The sky is the limit. We hope we will be as high as possible in the league and we can then see from there.”

Dragusin says he likes “the physicality, intensity, speed and aggression” of the Premier League and is proud to be the fourth Romanian to represent Spurs.

He knows there is competition at centre-back from the likes of Cristian Romero and Micky Van de Ven but reckons that “can make each other progress and grow”.

There is certainly no chance of Dragusin being overawed by the challenge, having earned his big-money move to Tottenham after taking a step back by leaving Juventus.

The defender moved to Turin aged 16 and went on to make four first-team appearances, before being farmed out to Sampdoria, Salernitana and then Genoa in Serie B.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Radu Dragusin (@radudragusin5)

 

The latter turned their loan into a permanent move as they were promoted last season, before the Rossoblu sold him to Spurs last week.

“I have believed in myself since the beginning and I wanted to play football,” Dragusin said.

“I understand there are a lot of sacrifices to be made and a lot of days I will be on my own training, developing, but this is my dream and I won’t stop until I reach the highest level possible in my career.”

Former Chelsea forward Timo Werner believes he can make a big impact under Ange Postecoglou at Tottenham without being “the main man” scoring goals.

Much was expected of the Germany international when he completed a £53million switch to Stamford Bridge in 2020 after scoring goals aplenty at RB Leipzig.

But the pacy forward failed to transfer his German scoring feats into the Premier League and returned to his former club for just £25m after two seasons in west London.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial)

 

The 27-year-old is back in English football after joining Spurs on loan – with Son Heung-min at the Asian Cup – and provided an assist on his debut in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Manchester United.

“We wanted to win the three points, that’s the only not-so-good thing but we did a very good game,” Werner, whose six-month loan includes an option to make the deal permanent, said.

“It’s not easy to win at Old Trafford and yeah I’m very pleased with my game.

“I enjoyed it out there and with the assist, it was a very good debut for Spurs.”

Asked whether supporters saw the best of him at Chelsea, the Germany international said: “That’s hard to say. There was always criticism of my game there.

“At the beginning I also started like I did here, from the left side.

“I think a lot of people wanted to see me scoring more goals, but at Spurs, with the tactics we have and the way the manager wants me to play, I can bring a lot to the group, also with my assists and maybe (by) not being the main man who scores the goals.

“To make deep runs to create space for the others and like today, to create an assist.”

Werner’s work on the left allowed Rodrigo Bentancur to make it 2-2 at Old Trafford, where Spurs twice came from behind and should perhaps have left with more than a point.

It was a promising debut from a player that scored 23 goals in 89 appearances for Chelsea and helped win the Champions League in 2021.

“Maybe sometimes it’s not about the fans or the manager,” Werner said when asked if criticism of his time at Stamford Bridge was unfair.

“Sometimes it’s about you, how you are getting things together, how you look at your stats and think, ‘I wanted to score more goals’.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Timo Werner (@timowerner)

 

“I think now I’m a bit older, I see how important assists and deep runs are for the team.

“I also want to score goals but it’s not the main part of my game anymore. I can bring so much more especially in this kind of tactic for the group.”

Richarlison and Bentancur were the goalscorers for Postecoglou’s side on Sunday, cancelling out goals from Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford.

Hojlund’s thumping opener got United off to a dream start inside three minutes, but Erik ten Hag’s side lost their way in what will be their only Premier League match this month.

“We were talking in the break about switching off, so it was a little bit annoying (to concede so quickly),” Hojlund said, referring to Bentancur’s strike within a minute of the second half getting under way.

“We need to take the positives with us, again we need to be disappointed, as two times we were ahead.

“It can happen but again I think we played a great game.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants to see Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford kick on after both strikers scored in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford.

As Sir Jim Ratcliffe attended his first game since agreeing a partial takeover of the club, United were twice pegged back by goals from Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur in a frustrating afternoon for Ten Hag, with Scott McTominay missing a glorious chance to win it late on.

But there was encouragement in seeing summer signing Hojlund make it two goals in as many Premier League matches after a long wait to break his league duck, and then for Rashford to score only his fourth of the campaign.

“I hope they keep going, there is progress,” Ten Hag said. “They are coming up with some routines and that is what you need, especially in the front line where a quick decision has to be made and in a split second you need the right decision so you need intuition.”

This was only the sixth game in 24 domestic fixtures in which at least one of United’s forwards has found the net.

“When your forwards are not scoring it is going through the whole team,” he said. “It makes everyone insecure, starting with the front players when they are not scoring. (Alejandro) Garnacho, Hojlund, and Rashford must be a threat.”

Ten Hag claimed United should have had a penalty when Garnacho tumbled in the box but although Destiny Udogie had hold of the forward, there appeared to be little in the incident.

“Yes,” Ten Hag said when asked if it should have been a spot-kick. “But what can you do? But I am used to it, all season that is the case.

“(Away at) Spurs was similar, a clear handball from (Cristian) Romero and I can list more. In some point in the season I think it will turn to our side. Let’s hope for that.”

While Ten Hag was delighted by two “great goals” for his side, he called Tottenham’s equalisers “soft”, with Richarlison heading in from a corner and   Bentancur allowed to stride through the United box as Tottenham caught them cold at the start of the second half.

“The equaliser is no good but I have seen some good spells,” he said. “Two goals and we created other chances. We played well and that pleased me most but you are still disappointed when you get this result.”

Spurs counterpart Ange Postecoglou was proud of his side having travelled north without several players through injury and illness.

Tottenham bossed possession and had 16 attempts at goal to United’s nine, but allowed the hosts to score with their only two shots on target.

“I thought it was an outstanding performance, considering the team out there today,” said Postecoglou, whose team remain fifth in the Premier League, eight points above seventh-placed United .

“It’s a difficult place to come and play. A win today would give United some kind of momentum.

“Every time these players have to deal with adversity, they do it. It was an outstanding performance, I thought they were unlucky not to win.”

Romero and Bentancur returned ahead of schedule while Micky van de Ven played almost the entire match before suffering with cramp in his first appearance since early November.

And Postecoglou said their desire to play and help a short-handed team even when not fully fit spoke of the spirit in the Tottenham camp.

“We are not (where we are) because everything is running our way,” he said. “Anyone doing an objective commentary on our season would say we have not had it easy. These guys are giving me everything. They just give everything.

“It is not always smooth but there is no manager on this planet who wouldn’t feel they are not in the right place when they put in this effort.”

Tottenham twice pegged back Manchester United to deny Erik ten Hag’s men victory as Sir Jim Ratcliffe attended his first match since agreeing a partial takeover of the club.

The billionaire’s agreement to buy a 25 per cent stake and take control of football operations has brought some hope to a club that has fallen off the top of the English game under owners the Glazers.

But it is a long way back and fans will continue to protest the Americans’ involvement, no matter how diminished, with Ratcliffe getting a first-hand look at the challenge he is taking on in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Spurs.

The 71-year-old, who grew up supporting United, sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box at Old Trafford and only had to wait three minutes to celebrate as summer signing Rasmus Hojlund hammered home.

Richarlison headed in an equaliser from a corner – his sixth goal in as many Premier League matches – but Marcus Rashford smartly put the hosts back ahead in the 40th minute.

Cristian Romero rattled the United crossbar in stoppage time and 49 seconds into the second half Rodrigo Bentancur slammed Spurs level, capitalising on some lax home defending.

Ange Postecoglou’s visitors looked most likely to win it but United avoided a 10th Premier League loss of the season in front of Ratcliffe and his INEOS team.

Things had got off to an ideal start from a United perspective.

Andre Onana – playing his final match before heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations – collected a cross and threw wide to Alejandro Garnacho, who played onto Bruno Fernandes.

The skipper put Rashford behind to drive forward and then cut inside, with Destiny Udogie’s eventual challenge taking the ball into Hojlund’s path rather than halting the counter.

The 20-year-old Dane moved the ball away from Spurs defenders, steadied himself with another touch before thundering a left-footed drive into the roof of the net.

Rashford tried to add a second when meeting a deep Christian Eriksen corner with an unorthodox volley across goal, but Spurs soon awoke from their slumber.

Pedro Porro’s pot shot may have been easily held but Jonny Evans had to be alert to stop a looping header from Spurs debutant Timo Werner causing problems.

Diogo Dalot cleared Bentancur’s header from the resulting set-piece off the line, but another corner would prove United’s undoing in the 19th minute.

Porro swung in from the left and Richarlison showed strength in a congested six-yard box to glance home, extending Spurs scoring run in the league to a club-record 33rd game.

Play settled for a while, only for United to kick on towards the break.

Garnacho’s penalty appeals against Udogie fell on deaf ears but the Spurs left-back was soon breathing a sigh of relief after heading a Rashford cross onto his own post.

United’s pressure continued and brought about a 40th-minute goal.

Rashford played a one-two with Hojlund around the edge of the 18-yard box, then followed a touch with a low snapshot into the bottom corner.

The England forward made a talking gesture with his hand as he celebrated – seemingly a message for those questioning him.

Rashford was blocked out as he attempted to add another but Spurs went close in stoppage time, with Romero launching himself to meet a corner and sending a header crashing off the bar.

Postecoglou’s side were not discouraged by that near miss and drew level moments into the second half.

Werner held the ball up on the left and played across to Bentancur, who drove into the box, past Evans and continued to slam Spurs level.

It was a gut punch Tottenham were determined to add to.

Richarlison forced a low save out of Onana and Werner hooked over as the visitors looked most likely to score, but they could not capitalise on their boatload of set-pieces.

Ten Hag made a pair of changes in quick succession to change the dynamics.

The first, Scott McTominay, drove narrowly wide from 20 yards after replacing Eriksen, before Lisandro Martinez came on for his first appearance since September.

Spurs introduced January arrival Radu Dragusin as the match wound down, with McTominay heading over at the end of five minutes stoppage time.

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United will only succeed with “hungry players” after letting Jadon Sancho leave little more than a year after Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-profile departure.

The Dutch coach was brought in 19 months ago to change things on and off the pitch at Old Trafford, where he has had to deal with a fair share of distractions.

Unhappy star Ronaldo’s second spell at United ended in acrimonious fashion in November 2022 and another big name has left midway through a Ten Hag season in charge of the Premier League giants.

Sancho has been banished from the first-team since September, when he claimed on social media that he had been made a “scapegoat” after the Dutchman said he omitted him from a matchday squad due to his training levels.

The 23-year-old this week returned to former club Borussia Dortmund on loan for the rest of the season and, while he wished the winger luck, the United boss underlined the need for the right mentality at the club.

“If you want to perform, you need hungry players,” Ten Hag said.

“I already said, we need personalities and players who are very hungry to fight for the badge, so fight for this club, and to do this in the team.”

Discipline is a key pillar of Ten Hag’s approach and was backed during the Ronaldo situation by the Glazers, while new incoming minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has not stood in the way of Sancho’s exit.

“I think it is not about discipline, it is about normal behaviour,” the Dutchman said. “It is about that, so what you can expect from a top professional.”

United are preparing for Sunday’s home clash with Tottenham – their only Premier League match this month.

The Red Devils need a win having lost nine of their 20 top-flight matches in an injury-hit season, with results and performances increasing the pressure on Ten Hag.

But the United boss trusts a process he believes will improve as absentees return, including Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez.

Ten Hag said: “If you ask me the question ‘is it difficult for you (to deal with things)?’, no, it is not difficult for me.

“Because I could expect from the start of the season when this happened the process could go negative, then, as a manager, you have to stay positive and get the process in the right direction.

“In the meantime, you have to be pragmatic, get as much points as possible and wait until the players are fit.

“In the meantime, work on your team, work on individuals that they go to higher levels, that you set conditions that the team is performing better, that the results will rise again.”

Page 4 of 155
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.