Opinion: Welcome back, lads (even you, Eric)

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Image: SpursWeb

Did any of it really surprise you? Jose set them up to counter, United were the better for the first twenty minutes, and had a superb chance from Rashford gifted to them by a poor Sanchez clearance. Then somehow someway Bergwijn broke through and David De Gea does what, unfortunately for United, he does all too often these days and bottled the shot. And then for about twenty minutes we were actually the better side and, but for a De Gea redemptive save on Son’s header Spurs would have been up two and the game probably done and dusted.

In the second half things turned and Jose seemed to be content parking the bus, but in case you haven’t noticed for about 7-8 years now, Spurs never win that way. Lloris saved us once from Martial and then, after a brief respite from pressure, United turned it on again and several frustrating clearances went nowhere until Pogba took the ball way from Dier, juked him out of his pants, and forced the inevitable penalty and a final draw that was a fair result but does little or nothing for any flickering Champions League hopes.

We could have done with the services of Dele and Lucas. Kane and Son were understandably rusty. Give Bergwijn and Lamela credit for effort—the latter was active throughout, but missed at least three golden opportunities to send a pass forward to a teammate in space bearing down on the goal. I thought both Winks and Sissoko played well—more defensive, of course as this lineup lacked a playmaker of any sorts and paid the price for it. Aurier was the better of the two fullbacks and Sanchez and Dier each had acceptable games until the one big mistake. If his second “infraction” had stood, Spurs would have had reason to claim highway robbery, but for once VAR did the sensible thing and negated it with evidence of an obvious dive.

Lloris is MOTM with Bergwijn a close second, and there isn’t that much reason to complain. If Jose’s tactics had been different the score could easily have been 2-2 or even 3-2 United—I have to give him the benefit of the doubt given the 100 day break and assume that he knew a squad running up and down the field would be vulnerable. In the stretch just before the penalty Spurs looked generally knackered and lacked the energy or the imagination to clear the ball.

It was nice to see a game and one that mattered and was played intensely between two pretty equal sides. The outcome was frustrating, but probably as much to them as us. The truth of the matter is that central defence has been a growing problem for a couple of years now and must be dealt with over the next year, beginning this summer, if this team is ever to mount another serious trophy challenge. And to be very blunt, while he was hardly at his best today, Harry Kane will not stick around long in North London if he doesn’t see some improvement behind him.

It hurt. But the pain was overcome by the sheer delight of watching our club play our game in a compelling fashion. Even with none of us there to experience it. Let’s clobber the Hammers.

 

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