Oh well hello Tottenham Hotspur. A win at Old Trafford. 3-0. Tremendous. Not one signing compared to Manchester United's near £400M spend (yes, I'm including previous windows to make it look worse for them and better for us). It's probably too early to celebrate a moral victory regarding net spend so I'll just celebrate the three points and the absolute d*cking we gave them.
From a personal perspective it was pure banter last night. I couldn't watch the game live so I had to switch my phone off, log off my laptop and go full 'dark' till around 10:30pm. I was a Likely Lad doing my best to avoid the score. At one point I had to pull down the blind in the kitchen because I noticed a West Ham supporting neighbour and was about to attempt to decipher his face, break the code for an indication on how the game was going.
"Oh sh*t, he's sort of half smiling. Does that mean we're losing at half-time?"*
*Turns out he might have heard the latest rumour from MACE
I survived though. Unlike the Likely Lads there was no true comedic moment of avoidance. Thankfully there was no such comedic moment out on the pitch either. When I eventually sat down to watch it I felt content and vindicated. Not sure my neighbours appreciated my late night shouting. Especially the Hammer.
Not that the first half was the most secure in terms of output and nervous glitchy moments.
I thought the forward play and touches from both sides was a bit untidy at times but when it mattered most - we were ruthless and United weren't. You can bang on about strategy and tactics and possession but Spurs are often criticised (by us) for not displaying enough clinicality when it matters. Monday evening was no such night for that. There was no defaulting to the standard, expected, deflated defeat they usually dish out to us. Spurs cut through all the huffing and puffing and did so with style.
If we beat Watford, gonna get me suit measured.
Jose doing his clapping thing post-game, standing applauding the United fans that remained was pure Jose. I understand the sentiment. Compared to their performance at Brighton this was a huge improvement. Imagine that though. A huge improvement and we smashed them off the park. Times have quite obviously changed when you don't need to imagine any of it.
I was wondering what he'd do to deflect and expected a presser moment (which we got with his Respect! Respect! Respect! walk out) but never thought I'd see anything on the pitch. He's still a master at this, at the very least. My favourite quote has to be "From the tactical point of view we didn't lose". O RLY? We gonna go with xG to decide games every time the other side don't win?
He's got everyone talking about him although let's be fair, the media will always make Utd losing 3-0 at home a bigger story than Spurs winning 3-0 at United.
Some general observations and the like:
That hug Poch gave Hugo after the game. I can't quite explain it but it illustrated the bond they have and the one the team have for each other. It was like 'you f**ked up, you know, we know, but came here, it's gonna be alright, we're gonna be alright'. It seemed to make Hugo less guilty even though he did f**k up massively. It would have been easy to just drop him or strip him of his captaincy but the players and coach obviously have respect for him and know it was out of character. I know that there's a responsibility at play in how we the supporters are represented, I'm not dismissing this. For me, I witnessed solidarity and strength and I liked it.
re: winning away versus the top 6. As the table illustrated (on Sky Sports), very few top 6 sides win away to the rest of the top six. We had two wins, Arsenal one and I think Chelsea had four. City and Utd were the ones (based on the past 20 or so games) that had the most success. I guess the point being made is the more you win (against top rivals at their gaff) within a given season the more likely you'll end up above them or even top. Which doesn't need to be stated because you need to win bloody football games in the first place.
It's psychological. At least for us.
Beating Chelsea last season and now claiming three points at OT. It's a positive. Spurs have to somehow keep evolving when it seems the only way to do so these days is to spend £300M. Kane is right to say that we've grown up together and matured. That we are no longer a young team and therefore need to show something for it. So that hunger and focus can be something tangible when you have a proper team - a family - fuelling the desire. It's a powerful platform and it's essential if you're going to dare to do something special. We've accumulated more points than anyone other than City in the past few seasons (correct me if I'm wrong). That's consistency. That consistency is long over due some ribbons. Or maybe it isn't and this season is the one that will deliver? I almost feel like we have to deliver.
Danny Rose aint the same player he once was is he? I keep telling myself it's because he needs to play week in and week out. Someone hold me. Tell me it's gonna be alright. Just to clarify, ignoring his misplaced pass that could have and should have led to us being 1-0 down, he played well. He's still got the rust about him though. Perhaps he's not as full pelt and super dynamic as pre-injury Rose but he can still stick in a shift. Maybe he needs to play every week. Maybe he won't quite capture the same form of a few seasons back. But then maybe he doesn't need to. He'll be good enough regardless. It's a hard one to gauge because we also don't quite know if he still wants away. We do know Poch will rotate but I hope momentum isn't sacrificed too much by doing so and certain individuals are given more time in the spotlight.
Toby was superb. Did we expect anything less? The man oozes class and in some twisted way showcased the difference maker between us and United. It's funny how the changes our manager made almost felt like there is depth in the squad, at least defensively. In games like this and with Liverpool on the horizon, we need to have our very best players line-up together. My word, what an obvious statement to make but I think as Spurs fans we know that our strongest eleven can beat anyone (it's just that it's not quite conceivable to always be able to select it). I doubt anyone will dispute the team that did the business on Monday night isn't our very best.
Jan also performed well. He was always alert, snatching the ball back from red shirts. Nice little conundrum for Poch at the back (depending on the opposition and whether we go for three or four). Unlucky for Davinson this time out.
I think we can put to bed the whole Kane v Lukaku discussion too now if there was ever a discussion to be had. An absolutely magnificent header and the goal that shifted full on advantage our way. Another goal in August. RIP August. He did a miss a sitter which is basically what football is all about. Scores the impossible, doesn't hit the target when he's inches in-front of him. The footballing Gods have a wicked sense of humour.
Lucas Moura was sensational. He should have had a penalty (Dele could have done a Salah and also got one for himself too). His pace is what we desperately needed as an additional trait, especially away from home and on the counter. That burst of energy to stretch a back-line will win us points this season in games where perhaps we've often lacked that extra dimension. His finishing was creamy too. To think we also have Son to welcome back when he returns from international duty (hopefully forever free of military service). If Erik Lamela manages to stay fit for more than a week at a time, oh boy, this season gonna be a good one mate.
Thought Dele Alli was unfortunate. He could have scored a couple of times and on one occasion should have been put through to score the third (before Lucas did). There were a few similarly balanced moments in the game that didn't quite come off. I'm still predicting he'll score 20 this season and if Lucas continues and Son adds to the tally - we might be in for a very successful haul. We need scorers all over the pitch so although it's early days, don't mind me whilst I salivate in anticipation.
Christian Eriksen was a little subdued. That congestion in the middle and United's energy in the first half played a big part in that. He still played a part but not as influential as he can be (in terms of dictating). But he assisted. Twice (edit: once). So please embrace the contradictory I've scribbled down here. Even if they did a job on him he still endeavoured and found those vital touches where it mattered most. That's the levels we need to sustain. When the game is perhaps tight across the pitch, you look towards your players completing that killer pass or move or goal. Eriksen subdued can still be > than anything the opposing side have.
I'm very happy we're not talking about Paul Pogba the day after the night before. Although he appears to be talking to the French football press stating our victory wasn't deserved. I guess goals scored don't count for much when you're Tottenham and you're scoring them.
It was nice to see twenty minute wonder Mousa Dembele start. I think it's easy to be overly critical of him. Because of his commitment and work rate he gets himself after the ball when he doesn't have it and always looks to surge when he does. So this means he's also likely to misplace or lose the ball if he's crowded out. Or rather you're more likely to see it. He did that once or twice and I guess we got lucky with avoiding punishment. Him and Dier centrally works well as opposed to having Sissoko (Fenerbache bound?) sat in there. I hope we get to see 'season one' Wanyama again.
I think looking at our squad, because of the injuries some players have suffered it's easy to believe we haven't got enough about us in key positions. This is probably true when you consider Kane is alone with no pound for pound understudy (is that even possible to have?) but the midfield is still quite tight with options. Harry Winks is another one that will rejuvenate us in games where perhaps more astuteness is required.
In terms of tactical changes (check out Nathan A Clark @NathanAClark on Twitter), it was interesting how 'basic' the game unravelled. United pushing forward in the opening half an hour and then in the second half, after our two quick goals, Spurs sitting back and playing on the counter. United made changes but in terms of tactics, they didn't do anything outrageously leftfield. It was more of what they gave in the opening 30 minutes of the first half. Push and press. I know from our perspective this was quite risky. You can argue we contained but there were moments where perhaps had United's players connected better...they'd have scored. Spurs reserved energy levels, played a game of patience and picked them off beautifully.
If I've forgotten anything I'll blog again. For now, congrats to Tottenham on their biggest win at Old Trafford since 1972 (I wasn't even born then ffs). Congrats for finally scoring against and beating a Jose team (under Poch) away from home. We all worried, as we do, before the game. That ye old defensive mechanism kicking in with whispers of Dr Tottenham coming to Jose's rescue. We shifted uncomfortably with the Hugo Lloris capacity debate. In the end, Spurs did what Spurs under Poch always do. They show zero disregard to the past and instead create their own glorious immediate future.