Spurs 2 Man United 0
Brutal. Coulda – shoulda – been 5 or 6.
This was a Spurs performance that was right up there. The result didn’t do it justice. Had United turned up and we’d won a tough match, say, 3-2 then I wouldn’t have minded. But to have only beaten them by 2 goals after imposing such dominance was disappointing.
‘From 1 to 11’ (whatever the actual numbers on their shirts), every single one of Spurs player’s performances was A+ last night. Eriksen and Vertonghen were the pick of the bunch but it’s nit-picking to choose between individuals. This was a team performance. But a team in which every player knew, and did, his job. We not so much pressed as ‘hunted’ them. We drove through them (Dembele), passed through them (Eriksen), went round them (Trippier and Davies), harassed them (Dele, Son and Kane), hassled them (Dier), mopped them up (Vertonghen, Sanchez) and, when necessary, chopped them (Dele, Dembele) and stopped them (Lloris). Tactical masterclass (Poch and his aides).
I can never quite relax against a team like Man United. Until the final whistle you can’t help fearing they’ll get one back and it will be a nail-biting finish, or that Dele or Dembele will see red and we’ll be down to 10 men. But from about 70 minutes I ‘knew’. The days of “lad’s it’s Tottenham” are sepia-tinged, with no relevance to our current team (or theirs). United’s expensive individuals were reduced to rubble. Petulant, dispirited, beaten, blaming each other. Only De Gea (as usual) rose above it all. Mourinho has some fine attacking players at his disposal but no real spine to his team. To be fair, it was partly that they had ‘a bad day at the office’. Partly tactical mistakes. Last night doesn’t make them a bad team. It just shows our ceiling is higher.
My most memorable moments:
11 Seconds. That goal. A masterpiece of havoc that ended with a finish as sure as an assassin’s blade. Cue pandemonium.
The next 15 minutes. Give and Take. United’s only period in the match. They looked up for it, a couple of chances to level. But we slowly strangled them, extinguishing any hopes they might have had.
Phil Jones. 2-0. A finish Harry would have been proud of. Unlike some, I don’t dislike Jones. He’s an honest toiler. A decent back-up in a big squad. At Spurs he’d be 4th choice at best. That own goal finished the match as a contest.
The rest of the first half. Spurs increasingly dominant. Trippier owning our right flank, bursting round and through them. Dele finding acres in their ravaged midfield. That really should have been a penalty too. 3-0. Kane’s century. Oh well.
Moura parading at half time, looking a mix of shy, shell-shocked and happy to be with us. I have a feeling about him. A good one. ‘Bemvindo Lucas’.
The second half. United’s increasing impotence. Their Viagra substitutions making no difference. The droop in their players’ shoulders. Pogba – a fine player – overpowered by Dembele. Misused by Mourinho. Poor old Fellaini.
Chances came and went. Son getting an earful from Kane for shooting instead of passing. Eriksen ripping a bullet just wide of De Gea’s post. Some other scuffed efforts.
SuperJan. Bestriding the pitch like a colossus. Everything from last-ditch tackles to imposing headers to surges forward. That run when he took the ball from just outside our box, slicing through their midfield, emerging on the edge of their box in the hope of a return pass and a shot. He’s been superb for 2 Seasons now. Last night he was even better.
And finally Coco. Coming on and immediately grabbing Martial. That backheel. His last-minute strike, and then demanding a corner even as the final whistle blew.
PS: Can’t be bothered to write about Newport 1 Spurs 1. I’ll cover it along with the replay next week.