Saturday morning. Many were awakening with a smile on their face. It was the weekend, after all, and to make things better; the sun most certainly had his hat on that day. With England become that much more autumnal, the morning sunshine glaring through the window to meet my dreary eyes was a joy to behold. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Tottenham Hotspur had Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The joy quickly turned to pessimism. We couldn’t win, could we? Spurs hadn’t picked up all three points at United since Gary Lineker’s sole strike back in December 1989. The North London side had come close in the past, most notably when Roy Carroll decided to throw Pedro Mendes’ long-range effort across the line, only for Mark Clattenburg and co. to not spot the ball in the back of the net, despite the sheer look of horror that had crossed the goalkeeper’s face.
As if a daunting trip to Manchester wasn’t enough, imagine the horror on the face of fans reading an article by an unnamed publication with links to Harry Redknapp titled ‘Spurs in Turmoil’. The byline – ‘Tired stars slam AVB’. This came a day after Andre Villas-Boas had expertly shot down a reporter who questioned the “frustrations” of Hugo Lloris, who wasn’t included in the travelling party for the recent 3-0 win over Carlisle United.
Fans were furious. What frustrations? What players had said it? Were there any quotes attributed to the “tired” stars? Never. There was nothing of the kind. Needless to say, it was more knife twisting from the media who had predicted, or to some extent wanted, Villas-Boas to fail at Spurs from the off.
With England become that much more autumnal, the morning sunshine glaring through the window to meet my dreary eyes was a joy to behold
Double training sessions appeared to be the basis for tiredness, despite not players complaining whatsoever. More notably, said article came around two hours after a well respected broadsheet paper had published an interview with Gareth Bale, the Welshman insisting he was happy at White Hart Lane and that the players were enjoying life under Villas-Boas.
Needless to say, it would’ve certainly played a part on pre-match preparations against the 12-time Premier League champions. Villas-Boas had only faced United once in the past, as Chelsea manager which brought upon that Fernando Torres miss. Nevertheless, he had again promised to attack them at Old Trafford and that's exactly what he did.
Spurs found themselves 1-0 inside two minutes, man of the moment Jan Vertonghen breaking forward from left-back unchallenged before seeing his right-footed effort deflect off Jonny Evans and into the back of the net. And Spurs were two to the good before half-time after Sandro robbed Robin van Persie of the ball, passed to Mousa Dembele who in turn released Bale.
He took it upon himself to drive at the United backline and with help of Jermain Defoe, whose clever run pulled Evans inside; had a free run at the 18-yard-box. Ferdinand pushed him wide, but not enough as the winger lashed past Anders Lindegaard and into the far corner.
Nevertheless, he had again promised to attack them at Old Trafford and that's exactly what he did
United were still threatening, Nani in particular was giving Vertonghen a torrid time on the right-wing, but it wasn’t until the second half that the hosts found the back of the net. Half-time substitute Wayne Rooney picked out the Portuguese wideman, who managed to poke home from close range.
Spurs restored their two-goal advantage moments later as Lindegaard could only parry Bale’s drive into the path of Clint Dempsey to nestle into the back of the net. However, the deficit was again halved, this time courtesy of Shinji Kagawa, who prodded past Brad Friedel.
Cue a nervous, heart-attacking inducing 40 minutes as Spurs did what they could never do; grind out a win. They did it against Queen’s Park Rangers the previous week and had now done so against United. The players, fans and, most notably, Villas-Boas all broke into hysterics, absolutely delighted that they had secured maximum points at Old Trafford.
Post-match, Villas-Boas looked calm and collected, but visibly delighted following the win. He appears to have ditched the previous approach he took with the media, but also took it upon himself to let off a smug smile, presumably directed at all those who had questioned his appointment at White Hart Lane.
Cue a nervous, heart-attacking inducing 40 minutes as Spurs did what they could never do; grind out a win
Spur have now gone seven games unbeaten in all competitions and are yet to taste defeat since the opening day loss to Newcastle United. Fans that wanted him out appear to have come around in one 90 minute performance. Granted, there are kinks that still need to be worked out, but they are slowly becoming less and less evident.
However, the weekend win over United would surely serve as a massive two fingers towards all those who had tipped the Spurs boss to be out on his a**e come Christmas. Some reported that he had three games to save his job prior to the encounter with Reading; three encounters which saw the club pick up maximum points.
Furthermore, Kyle Walker took it upon himself to tweet about the result and dispel any of the reports suggesting the players were unhappy under Villas-Boas. Hopefully the win over United will go a long way to silencing the media and some sections of the fans although I have to admit; if this is Spurs in turmoil, I can’t wait to see them firing on all cylinders.
If you're a football fan, sink your teeth into these
Click here for more stories on Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook