Brutal Spurs Shatter United

Some games are won on points as the losers gradually buckle under sustained pressure. Others are won in a sudden percussive explosion of blows that land a knock-out punch. Yesterday’s Spurs victory was the latter. In a seismic 6 minutes Tottenham tore United apart, scoring three times. It was brutal. Even in a season full of incident and memories, it was sensational.

It had been pretty tight for 70 minutes. Spurs had the better of it, especially in terms of chances. Lamela missed a golden opportunity in the first half, heading Eriksen’s floated chip wide from close range, while De Gea had been far more active than Lloris. Hugo stepped up to the mark however for a match-defining save after Martial waltzed through our defence, which in the end was United’s only shot on target.

Sometimes a goal sums a game up. Spurs’ first summed up the entire season. Lamela furiously battled for a ball in midfield, ending up on the floor thrashing away desperately. But Pochettino’s Spurs don’t leave their mates on their own. Kane joined in. As the ball bounced his way, Harry knocked it on to Eriksen without hesitation. He took it on and produced the most perfect ball into the box, bending it round the retreating defenders and into Dele Ali’s stride. The combination of all-out effort, physical presence and sublime skill has been a feature of this season’s success. First touch and the deadlock was broken, as were United hearts. They never recovered.

Ah Spurs, you spoil us so. Our lousy home record against United was yet another impediment to the title chase, as if Sky’s decree that Leicester can play first and set the pace wasn’t hard enough to overcome. The sense that this might be unfair in any way just isn’t a factor for the Premier League, provided they have the TV cash.

All worries gone with that goal. A couple of minutes later, Lamela’s perfect free-kick (not a phrase I’ve typed that frequently this season) was expertly headed in by Toby Alderweireld, a phrase that has been used before now. He is a top class player, unquestionably my man of the season, confirming my view first mentioned in January.

The old Lane was rocking again, not the first time this season and hopefully not the last. The atmosphere was fabulous all game, helped in the first half by United’s lusty voices. But there was more. The ball was gently rolled out of our penalty area. Walker slammed it 50 yards cross field, Eriksen’s delicate flick fell to Rose and his cross was gloriously swept in from the edge of the box by Lamela. I saw the cross, saw his body arc in the act of shooting, saw the keeper plunge to his right but never saw the ball hit the net, only the Paxton rising as a blue and white wall to acclaim it. Barely 10 seconds from nothing to everything, one end to the other.

Lamela’s goal crowned a fine performance. Full of tackles, he ran and harried United players all afternoon. He added what I have wanted all season but have seen only sporadically, that poise on the ball in key moments. Maybe he’s best when he doesn’t have time to think. Later he ran at goal with the ball at his feet only to grind to a halt near the box, as he has many times before.

Not carping, just sharing, but sitting fairly close to the pitch I can see and sometimes hear the players at close quarters. Yesterday there were two occasions when Walker and Eriksen had strong words with our Erik about his positioning when United had possession. He has that habit of drifting inside, for noble reasons as he wants to get involved in the game but he has to focus on his task. Despite this, he should be our ‘11th man’ (the other 10 pick themselves) for the run-in. That goal will do him a power of good. Have I mentioned that I thought it was rather good?

Kind of Spurs to delay the kick-off to allow a loyal fan and his granddaughter to make it on time, having been stuck in Kent after the A2 was completely closed. Or maybe it was the late arrival of the Untied team coach. Not the biggest issue right now but just how can one of the biggest teams in the world not understand that London is actually quite busy even on a Sunday.

Whatever, it was Spurs who looked unsettled to begin with. United had their best period, working hard in midfield to close us down but they were weakest in the final third. Then Spurs had a spell in the ascendancy. Dembele and Kane featured with Rose as ever supporting on the left. Martial’s deployment on United’s left tied Walker down however but he made one fine dash at full-tilt into the box only to see his cross come shot blocked.

Never quite at our best, Spurs kept working. Many moves did not come off but enough did to give us the upper hand after the break. We kept playing, another feature of our play these days. Then the final twenty minutes became a celebration of how far we have come and how well we are playing.

The key moment may well have had nothing to do with Spurs. United’s excellent young right back Fosu-Mensah went off injured. Eriksen tiptoed forward into the space. Whether he worked this out himself or Pochettino deserves the credit, United didn’t spot him, either when he made the first or set up the third. In between, Kane was fouled out there for the second by sub Darmian.

Last week I wrote about my ambitions for the rest of the season, not so much the title but more the manner in which we take on the challenge. Yesterday Tottenham achieved everything I could have wanted and more. So proud.

21 thoughts on “Brutal Spurs Shatter United

  1. We just keep getting better and better. This team, this manager, our fans and the coming new stadium mean the future looks very bright indeed.

    If we don’t win the title, and we still may, so long as we keep MP and the key players together adding some fresh talent along the way, then we will in the next season or two. Who knows, if MP commits long term we could be on the brink of something very special.

    Fergie was on Sky praising Poch to the hilt over the weekend. The Man U board are probably united on wanting LVG out but divided between our guy and Maureen as a replacement. No guesses for who Fergie wants.

    If I was a conspiracy theorist I’d suspect Sky were wanting Leicester to win as a way of selling their Premier League product. But I’d also be sitting here in my pants with tin foil on my head.

    And about time Erik Lamela has started to get some recognition and some love. He has been harshly treated over the last few seasons. As for blowing the Bale money – Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli were all on the pitch yesterday.

    i wonder if anyone who regretted van Gaal choosing Utd over us a while back still has those regrets.

    The future is bright. The future is Lilywhite.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scintillating stuff, Alan, like our season. We had over 170 chanting, singing, delirious fans at the Greyhound in LA, including the Spurs loving hubby of one of Downtown Abbey’s lasses, and an Emmy award winning pal of mine. And, the Fox Hunt continues…and it ain’t over till Adele sings, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. COYS!

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  3. Great performance yesterday, we did a United of days gone by on United… Letting the poor the team believe they were in with a chance of nicking a result, only to blow them away when we lifted it up a gear.

    If anything sums up the feeling… The guy next to me… We single high fived for the first goal, second goal both hands for the perfectly executed double high five… When goal three went in there was a moment of hesitation, a look into each others eyes then a big huge bear hug…. Probably best no more goals ensued…

    I felt we missed Lamela’s graft last week and it showed with a MOTM performance… Its not what we brought him for, but the boy gives his all and now the end product is starting to be seen more often than not…

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  4. Fantastic!!! Thanks Alan. Our future looks great with this young side.
    Hope this year with us winning all games and let’s hope Leicester get the wobbles!!
    Isn’t it great to be a Spurs fan!!!!!!!
    PS. Isn’t also great that all those negative Tottenham fans have shut up. That’s what winning does.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks , Alan, for an even more than usually measured and interesting review that covered Sunday’s game. What a performance!

    I admit that I was quivering more than somewhat for the first 20-25 minutes as United appeared to be out-playing us employing our own philosophical modus operandi – but by half time the collywobbles had subsided a little. I felt Alli’s goal seemed almost inevitable when it happened, but numbers two and three were like electric shocks – especially in their rapidity. Downstairs, the missus thought I was having a seizure…

    To me Lamela was a new player on Sunday: increasingly committed, energetic, enterprising and especially everywhere on the pitch. He certainly now appears to have shaken off his lazy, uninterested, one-footed rep. But overall the entire team put heart and soul into it – and (importantly) appeared to be having a whale of a time too. I’d have loved to have been a fly on their dressing room wall afterwards.

    I still believe that looking at the remaining fixture lists that Spurs might just pull it off. What a wonderful season for an old fart like me!!!

    Glory, glory.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please come forward all the fans who pleaded for Levy not be so bloody tight and spend 30 mil Schnederlin!
    Still reading some fans wanting silly money spent on average players….look at Man U. It doesn’t work
    Dier 4m, Ali 5m…..Schneiderlin?

    Liked by 1 person

    • In general, I agree, Peter. First, we won’t and can’t be spending that sort of money. And I hardly noted Scheiderlin yesterday, invisible, almost. Thing is, though, MoPo can most probably turn anyone into an invaluable member if they’re up for buying into the philosophy. Moot point, but Morgan (at a much lesser price) would’ve been better with us. Need to continue making buys like Dier, Toby, Wimmer, etc, doing our scouting due diligence. COYS!

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      • Exactly Ashley. One only has to look at Leicester. They signed Mahrez from Le Havre in Jan 2014 for 450k but had been monitoring him since 2012. Le Havre were in the second tier in France and no one in France was in for him.
        And then there is Kante of course, who they signed for 5.6 million from Caen. Kante also came to prominence in the second tier. Real Madrid had a look and didn’t think he was good enough!

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  7. Possibly the best six minutes of football all season. Brilliant, not much point in saying much more.
    Last week I said the three behind Kane each were occasionally fantastic, but inconsistent in front of goal. Well, this week within that six minutes, each of them were brilliant, full stop.
    Lovely stuff.

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  8. Alan,
    It’s been quite the season and what a performance, the difference between Spurs and United so apparent, impressive in that they have found some recent form with a spurs like formula of youth. The delta is clear and it is Poch, the way he has molded this side to fight, scratch and claw, more points from losing positions, late drama and incredible goal deferential , not typical Spurs qualities. How to explain a certain calmness as the game moves on, to know that we will find away, that is something I never thought would happen.
    Lamela so often early in his Spurs career the deer in the headlights, not so this year , his work rate has purpose, he tackles and scrapes for all loose balls, and honestly the less time he has on the ball the better, one touch passing and he has vision. If he can add the shooting touch and scoring, look out, he’s had it in the Europa, maybe this is the jumper cable.
    Agree that Toby is the transfer of the year, what a player , so confident and seems to rarely put a foot wrong, how about that beautiful touch at the end of the game,stepped over inside back heel to Verts- pure class.
    The player I have marveled at is Moussa, is this guy impossible to get the ball from, he is amazing, checking back, turning and maintaining space from the defender, there is nobody like him in that sense.
    Ultimately it comes down to the fact that these guys and playing for each other, it has a throw back feel, to the golly gee whiz days, I feel like all the highlights should be in flickering black and white, news reel stuff, that is so rare in this day in age, maybe I am way off, but boys does it seem it.
    Let’s keep believing and kicking on, COYS.
    Forza Spurs!
    Ed

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  9. Kicking my heels with joy, 50 odd years I’ve been following Spurs, I came out from under the typical father son brainwashing of supporting ManU, those many years ago and finally start to reap the loyal desserts. Win or loose the title, its how we are playing and who we are beating that brings the greatest smile.

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    • Same thing, here, mate. My dad’s an inveterate ManU fan. But Mum was a secret Spurs fan…I can’t remember the day but I’m sure Ashley Sr. dropped his cuppa when I shouted, Come on you, Spurs!!! He was hiding his face yesterday watching the game with another of his sons (Bro Andrew) and a grandson who are also Spurs fans!!! It ain’t over till Adele sings!!! 😉

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  10. Thanks Alan,

    Like Lpool, Man Utd definitely tried to raise the pace at which they play to counter us, but they ended up cutting their own throat. We’d worn Liverpool out by the last 15 mins or so at Anfield too and coulda/shoulda nicked it I still feel. Fosuh Mensah or not I felt it was only a matter of time as the second half wore on that we’d make the breakthrough.

    To rattle in three goals in 6 mins was bliss.

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    • “Mr. Gilzean” – am sure, MoPo with his late season two-a-day sessions has convinced them that we must win out, by running our opponents into the ground, even if it’s late, and then we see where the chips fall on championship Sunday…it ain’t over till Adele sings!!! COYS!

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  11. Wow there have been some special moments this Season but, yes, I think those 5 minutes and 45 seconds were the best. So far, anyway! When Lamela’s beautiful brushstroke finished an artistic masterpiece of a move, I think only the word orgasm does justice to the feeling that surged through me.

    But on reflection, what strikes me more than that single moment, game or result is the feeling of irresistible momentum. It seems to me that every single player is getting individually better. Walker, Rose, Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, each one becoming that bit more consistent, finding that extra moment of inspiration, finding an extra ten percent I think perhaps they never knew they had? Above all, footballers are humans. They are simply men who possess more than average talent with a ball. Too many people, too many fans, forget that players have the same frailties, insecurities, motivations and daydreams as ‘ordinary’ folk.

    The magic of Pochettino is that he not only realises this, he sets out to do something about it. Many of the principles aren’t unique to football. In any business, in any company, inspiring people can lead others to produce extraordinary results. The ‘typical’ employee will perform in a range from 7 to 3, out of 10. Within a few years of the start of a career, it becomes extremely hard for anybody to see beyond their own horizon; they do what they’ve always done, a 7 out of 10, say. But a special kind of ‘boss’ can help an employee see that, actually, 8 or 9 is possible. More than that, he (or she!) motivates the person to want to achieve it. Suddenly 8 or 9 out of 10 is the new “norm”.

    As each individual improves, the environment changes. Instead of the manager having to ratchet the standards up, the atmosphere does the job. It’s about everybody being “the best they can be”. I think our fullbacks are great examples. Walker and Rose have always been decent players. Potential England fullbacks. But more often than not, 6s and 7s out of 10, until this Season. Having Trippier and Davies helped them by introducing not just competition for places but the opportunity for rotation and rest. But as this Season has progressed, Rose in particular, but Walker too, have found a new “norm”. An extra gear if you like. Now it’s 7s and 8s out of 10 most weeks. And first choice for England beckons.

    I could go on. Dembele, a player transformed. Lamela, increasingly so. Eriksen, a growing influence. But it runs deeper than the obvious individuals. Vertonghen reached a stage when he thought he was too good for the Club. Now, realising he wasn’t missed, he’ll find a new gear. Kane’s search for Roy of the Rovers perfection will trawl new avenues.

    And then there’s the Squad. And the Youth. The standards in the entire Club have been transformed. Cliques are forbidden. If you’re good enough you’re old enough; from Alli to Onomah. Lloris is more than a Keeper. He’s more than a Captain. He’s the role-model. Our oldest player whose application, desire, focus, flair and professionalism set the benchmark for all those coming through. Poch’s message to every individual is simple. Aim higher than you imagined possible. Then we can get to work.

    It is pointless comparing great football managers across generations. Bill Shankly and Billy Nick had players on 100 quid a week who smoked and drank. Squads of just 14 and 15 players played entire seasons and were never rotated. The world was different. There have been great football coaches over the years since. But there have been few, truly great managers. Fergie is the obvious example (despite the fact that, in my opinion, he wasn’t a standout football tactician). I think Pochettino shows signs of being in Fergie’s class because he thinks deeply about the man in his charge, not just the footballer. How Van Gaal got where he is I haven’t a clue, but his management of his players as ‘men’ on Sunday was even more abysmal than his tactical nous.

    The reverse applies to Poch. In his first Season he put a brake on Spurs cycle of boom and bust. In his second Season he has turned the wheel to create a virtuous circle. Let’s hope that in his third Season, he can press the accelerator … !

    PS: For an insight into Poch’s mentality I suggest the excellent biographical article “The Sheriff” on the Twenty Minute Reads website.

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    • Charles, have read that 20 minutes, terrific article. Some nice insights in yours, too, mate. There’s also an aspect which is probably kept somewhat secret for competitive purposes — the sports science we’re applying, I think MoPo’s right hand man, little Jesus, is a PhD or something in sports science. I just sense (with so few injuries, with so many players competing in many games, the late reversals of fortune) we’re doing things that few other teams are doing science wise. Plus, our training staff has the players buying into it. I’m hoping to interview MoPo in the off-season, don’t know what he’ll give up, maybe Jesus would be interesting. Anyway, great post, although somewhat book-length-ish! As another ex-pat over here in the former colonies says (and I’ll paraphrase, cause I won’t use the “T” word) – “Goal difference trukke trukke for us!” Not over till Adele sings! COYS!

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  12. PPS:
    I loved the story doing the rounds on Sunday evening.
    That our players were frustrated at 0-0 at half-time and waited to see what Poch would say in his team talk. Apparently he only said three words:

    “Lads, it’s United!”

    Liked by 2 people

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