When I heard David Moyes’s furious reaction to Howard Webb’s failure to award a late penalty and send Hugo Lloris off after Ashley ‘Stay On Your Feet At All Costs’ Young went tumbling at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day, I couldn’t help thinking of Oscar Wilde’s famous quote about the death of Little Nell in Dickens’s ‘The Old Curiosity Shop: “One would have to have a heart of stone not to dissolve into tears…..of laughter.”
Some history of Spurs’ experiences at Old Trafford over the years may help give Mr. Moyes some perspective. Just off the top of my head I can come up with the following:-
- Teddy Sheringham (in his first stint with us) intercepts a quickly-taken free kick by a Man. Utd defender and has the chance to go one on one with their keeper, only for the referee, who had been looking the other way, to wrongly assume that he must have encroached and insist on the kick being re-taken. The ball goes up the other end and Cantona scores. We lose.
- We’re a goal up and playing well when Howard Webb awards a penalty after Gomez dives at the feet of a Man. Utd. forward and cleanly takes the ball. They score. We lose.
- Gomez puts the ball down in the penalty area, convinced that he has been fouled, and all players stop, assuming likewise, except Nani, who taps it into our net.
Mark Clattenburg awards the goal. We lose.
- Best of the lot, and responsible for perpetuating the myth that Spurs hadn’t won at Old Trafford for decades until we won there under AVB last year, in 2005,
Pedro Mendes’s hopeful punt from the half-way line is fumbled by Utd. keeper
Roy Carroll and only clawed back after it has gone a good yard over the line. Evidently, referee Mark Clattenburg and his linesman do not consider a yard to be enough for them to consider that it was fully over the line and no goal is awarded. We draw.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course, and we haven’t even touched on the special law introduced during the reign of Sir Alex (hallowed be his name), which stated: ‘ In games played at Old Trafford, should Man. Utd. be losing or drawing, sufficient time must be added until such time as they have scored, after which the whistle must be blown immediately after the away team kick off. Should Man. Utd. be winning, under no circumstances must sufficient time be added to enable the away team to score.’
So, Mr. Moyes, I hope you now have some little understanding of why Spurs fans are still laughing and why I strongly suspect that, like me, while we generally much prefer to win fairly and squarely, when it comes to Man. Utd. at Old Trafford, few of us would feel the slightest tinge of guilt if we won with the winning goal being blatantly punched into your net from a player ten yards offside who shouldn’t have still been on the pitch, having committed 25 separate sending off offences. It’s what we call payback time.
One thing I would agree with you on is that your new teenage sensation, Adnan Januzaj, does need more protection. I suggest you equip him with some inflatable water wings to cushion his falls.
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