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Winter Has Gone

Tottenham 2 - 2 Manchester United: A slightly happier Lilywhite's take on the action.

By Matthew CurtisPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters

The year is 2022. Tottenham Hotspur are an English football club participating in the Premier League. They have a rich history of glory, an incredible new stadium with training facilities to match and some of the best players in Europe at their disposal. The problem? They can only play one half of football at a time. Remember those days? Even just the one half of football has been hard to come by lately.

Were the half-time boos harsh? Probably, but after the season we've had, even the week we've had, 2-0 down at home with no signs of promise on the horizon, they were no surprise. I hope Mason and co know they were not being singled out for criticism. Much of the fury emanating from the stands was being directed at the under-fire chairman Mr. Levy. Sorry, I mean "Daniel". Thankfully for he and everybody else, it was a tale of two halves and at the deciding chapter was written by an author sympathetic to our story.

The opening 45 minutes (maybe even the first hour) was contested barely by a cowardly Tottenham team. Skipp and Hojbjerg found themselves at the heart of our struggles. They were too timid to play the riskier balls that others gave for Richarlison to chase. Spurs are so poor off the ball that our midfield pivot seemed desperate simply not to lose it, rather than look for the incisive pass. Watching them falter while Eriksen flourished was particularly jarring. Such were the quality of his one-touch passes, this might have been the Dane's best performance in that stadium in any coloured shirt, to date. If it is true that we passed up the opportunity to bring him home on a free, then it is a scandal.

The right-side of defence was sorely missing the composure and stability of injured Emerson Royal. Sancho's goal could have been prevented by any of those who surrounded him, but much like they were midweek up North, they were slow, senseless and unable to protect the goal behind them. Forster did well to keep the score down, but 2-0 came inevitably as United continue to break through the lines. There is no over-stating it, the Tottenham midfield did not exist at times. On too many occasions did the reds have nothing but a flat back-line in their way. If they couldn't play the ball forwards and they couldn't contribute to the defence, what on earth were they on the pitch to achieve?

Up front, Richarlison was the best of a dull bunch. Mason's decision to swap Son to the other wing was an astute one. Much has been said about Son's positioning with the Croatian sharing his flank throughout the season, being squeezed too centrally or pushed too deep, to be able to influence the game. But Richarlison thrives in these spots. He also seemed to be motivated in a way that the others were not. His plight drives him on, to scrap for the ball, to force his way into the box, to take on the shot. If suffering is what gives him inspiration, he's certainly come to the right place.

I had discomforting feelings about the atmosphere in the ground before kick-off. I feared that the toxicity might reach new heights, or depths. Yet, the crowd, for the most part, were in good spirit. It is just a shame that Tottenham were so lacklustre in response. In the first-half, the crowd's efforts to encourage and serenade their players were falling upon somewhat deaf ears. It was like they had showed up to a funeral, thinking they could cheer everybody up by finding a pulse on the cadaver. It just wasn't there.

However, somehow in the second-half, the dead man got up and started dancing on the buffet table. Typically, Richarlison rolled another Nat 1 on his D20 and was hooked from the pitch just as Spurs were starting to wake up. The Brazilian, at the point of his substitution, in my opinion, had been our man of the match. But when the team is chasing the game and Kane and Son are able to contribute as regularly as they do, only one of those three is taking an early shower. Thankfully, Dejan Kulusevski earned his place on the pitch, whereas Man United's substitutions were made only to their detriment.

A hopeless Fred squandered more possession than Walter White and Jesse Pinkman combined. Porro's stunning opener had not come against the run of play. The Spaniard is a strange player to analyse. He is a glass cannon. I will give him time shore up his defensive efforts. Son's miss was agnostic - no belief whatsoever. Dier's miss was much worse. But just when the thought appeared that it might be 'one of those days', Spurs found the goal they deserved. In truth, Son scuffed the effort, but even so he couldn't miss and the sound that greeted him will give him some faith back, which is honestly vastly more significant than the final result.

Forget the European positions for a moment. This ought to have been a dead-rubber match for both teams, but it was elevated in its prominence firstly by Sunday's revolting display, and secondly by a visiting side with a ruthless will to perpetuate their form and maximise every possible opportunity to play and win. Ten Hag's Manchester United play the game with a professional intent that is extremely enviable to watch in our shoes. They are the person you want to be picking up on the other end of the phone when you call up the complaints department; the diligent worker, the straight-faced, no-nonsense specialist, the one who makes them-self care on your behalf. Tottenham, in the first half at least, were the person you called up to complain about. The new-guy who, either for a lack of care or a lack of adequate company training, made a mess of the pizza order. Whether its bad food or bad football, is it any wonder people start talking refund?

Be thankful we side-stepped that reality this week. They showed us something. The pre-January Tottenham. The Tottenham that restricted itself to play only one decent chunk of football per-outing. It is a level of competence I bemoaned months ago and a level of football I have been missing ever since.

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About the Creator

Matthew Curtis

Queen Margaret University graduate (Theatre and Film studies).

Currently trying to write a book.

Lilywhite, Pokemon master, time-lord, vampire with a soul, Virgo.

Likes space and dinosaurs. And Binturongs. I'm very cool.

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Comments (2)

  • Chisi limiabout a year ago

    congrats on being on top stories

  • Ali Şahabout a year ago

    coooooooool stuff

Matthew CurtisWritten by Matthew Curtis

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