The Irish Examiner, or so I’m told, is a hotbed of Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal support, so getting a Tottenham voice in here is a bit of a result.
Three games, no wins. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been set up.
In truth, this gormless performance from Spurs didn’t deliver anymore than it deserved. Unbeaten all season, now two away defeats on the bounce. There are some question marks for Tottenham and a test of character ahead.
We need to see the team of last season again — and sadly, many of those established stars were marked absent yesterday.
Spurs showed United too much respect in the first half when a more tenacious approach has achieved results in recent encounters between the two teams.
And yet, for all United’s threat going forwards, the only goal of the game — well taken as it was — came courtesy of a sloppy mistake by the visitors. Three points for United from a man who’d definitely score a lot more in Scrabble.
Alli and Eriksen were too often found wanting, although decision making was poor throughout the team. Dembele faded after a positive start; Son looked lightweight; Kane — with the ink barely dry on his new contract — was not at the races.
It may be churlish, perhaps, to moan about the referee but it seemed to be an erratic performance with too many 50/50 decisions bottled.
Let’s just imagine what would have been the result of that late penalty shout had it happened at the other end. No doubt United fans would counter by pointing to Danny Rose as the villain of the piece but from the away end, the challenge didn’t look too bad and Rose, throughout the game, was one of the few bright sparks for the Lilywhites.
It’s become something of a cliche to say the away support outsang the home crowd but, yesterday, it happened again.
Surely 72,000 home fans can make more noise than that? Maybe too many of the vocal United supporters have been banned for missing games without phoning in sick.
The away day experience in a nutshell: A 6.15am start; A five hour drive; Breakfast in the world’s most understaffed Burger King (Toddington Services, I’m looking at you); £10 to park the car; Catch up with fellow fans who’d travelled from London, Glasgow, and Loch Lomond over a beer in the concourse before the game (just the one, I’m driving); Plastic glasses and a passable pint; Luxury in the best league in the world at the Theatre of Dreams. The drive home always seems longer when you’ve lost. Sitting in traffic, staring at the red lights stretching into the distance, wondering what might have been. Dreams of food at Knutsford City Limits.
Last season was the same result, only this time United actually scored their goal. Last season, too, a good run of results over the festive period left Spurs fans blinking in surprise as the team found itself in title contention. Let’s see where we are by the end of January.
I may just have arrived home by then.
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