I did not even bother to watch this game. Even when a friend told me that he was supporting Spurs (he’s a Celtic fan and hates Spurs) against Man Utd, I told him flatly that there was no way Spurs would ever win at Old Trafford. The facts supported this – Spurs have not won in the league at Old Trafford since 1989 (!) when Gary Lineker (!) scored the winner. Of course, the fact that referees tend to be biased towards Man Utd (and against Spurs) at Old Trafford was a factor as well – remember the Mendes goal that was chalked off by referee Mark Clattenburg? I’m sure Man Utd fans have forgotten that incident totally.
Before the game, I learned that (incredibly) Mark Clattenburg was to officiate the Man Utd – Spurs encounter once again. If Clattenburg had denied Man Utd a goal in the past, you can bet Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson would ensure that Clattenburg never refereed a Man Utd ever again. Such is the clout and influence the Man Utd manager holds over the Premier League. Unfortunately, Spurs and Harry Redknapp are nowhere on the same level as Ferguson when it comes to these matters. We are merely a once proud football club trying our best to better ourselves according to the rules of the game. Fairplay and all that.
Anyways, from my reading of the starting lineup (Jenas? Keane?) it was obvious that Harry Redknapp was not interested in winning the game but somehow had an eye for the Inter game in the midweek. Fatalism? Probably. From the match reports, it is clear that Spurs probably did not deserve anything from the game, their fallibility at set pieces again cruelly exploited this season – we need to get Michael Dawson fit and quickly (another reason why I’d rather a Spurs player never plays for England) and start to keep clean sheets again. Still, with Spurs playing well in the latter stages of the match and still only a goal down… Man Utd scores a bizarre controversial goal allowed by Clattenburg. Typical.
I can hear the excuses of the Man Utd fans ringing in my ears again – same ones whenever referees in the past have gifted them decisions at Old Trafford – “it was not a critical decision”, “Man Utd deserved to win anyway”, “play to the whistle”, “Man Utd should have got the penalty decision to begin with” etc etc etc etc ad nauseum. Say what you want – the fact remains that looking back at history, this is not an isolated incident but is a consistent occurrence at Old Trafford. Yes you can argue that this scenario has been cultivated by Ferguson to his and his club’s benefit after years and years of dominance. Well and good. I’d rather support a club that does not have to resort to such cynical tactics to win games and trophies. Idealistic? Of course, but that’s what it’s always meant, to be a fan of Tottenham Hotspur.