Updated: May 10
The first half performance was as good as any I have seen for years from Spurs, and underlines my initial enthusiasm for Andre Villas-Boas. I like the way he is getting the team to play. It’s flexible, we use the whole of the pitch, we give the opposition little time on the ball, we maximise possession, we use our pace, we have more than one route to goal.
The first 45 minutes were a story of utter dominance by Spurs. Man United were always going to come back at us, and Rooney’s arrival made a real difference. But the key moment was our instant response when they pulled a goal back. No more are we a team that turns up thinking we’ll be lucky to get anything, with a manager happy to emphasise that.
So many teams go to Old Trafford to sit back, knowing United will come at them. Spurs were always looking for more, breaking with lightening speed several times despite dropping back rather too deeply for the comfort of this viewer. But even in defence, the team was solid and confident. Special mention must go to Jan Vertonghen, already shaping up as a legend, and Gareth Bale, back to his devastating best even after a week in bed sick. And they say there ain’t no such thing as Superman. But this was a team performance, and the confidence the team can take from this win is immense.
The win not only ended our woeful record at Old Trafford, it also put to bed all the nonsense around AVB. While delighted Spurs fans were sticking it to the sports press on Twitter in the aftermath of the win, it should also be remembered that the White Hart Lane crowd has not exactly been lauding the new manager. Let’s hope we’ve heard the last of the half-time booing.
Some comment must be made about Alex Ferguson’s ridiculous post-match comments in which he complained it was “an insult” that there were only four minutes of added time. I’ve seen it argued that this was just a ploy to deflect attention from a poor performance by a number of his team, and there’s probably an element of this. But there’s more of an element of a warning shot to future referees about what is expected. What other manager would be allowed to get away with this intimidation? As it happens, I’ve got more time for United and their supporters than many Spurs fans have, but there’s a side to the club that lacks class. The image reproduced at the top of this post, from United’s matchday programme the year after the 5-3 (thanks to Jim Duggan at TopSpurs for the reminder) is one indication of that; the whining and sour grapes displayed by Fergie yesterday another.
Fergie may care to remember the number of decisions that have gone for his side against us over the years. In 2009 I listed 11 examples over 7 seasons in a match preview for The Spurs Web. We’re told these things even themselves out over time. So I’m looking forward to the next 7 seasons.