John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our 2-0 win against Manchester United.
John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester United
Under the Wembley floodlights in front of a near capacity crowd, Tottenham Hotspur put on a masterclass of exhilarating football which utterly and totally overwhelmed Manchester United. At times it threatened to border on embarrassment and humiliation. The Red Devils left Wembley belittled, bewildered and bedevilled by the quality of Tottenhamís mesmerising play.
Away to top six opposition, Mourinho the master technician had previously been heavily criticised for parking his expensively assembled bus in front of De Geaís goal. Last night perhaps his ego got in the way of his fundamental conservative beliefs as he picked such an attack-minded line up? By trying to take the game to Spurs, did the special one believe he could prevail and conquer where other heavyweight sides such as Dortmund, Real Madrid and Liverpool had previously perished?
Whatever his plans were, they were smashed apart inside just 12 seconds when almost unbelievably from the kick off, Spurs launched what appeared to be a premeditated attack and Christian Eriksen put Spurs in front with a fine strike beyond the rooted De Gea in the United goal. This stung United onto the attack with a number of threatening attacks on the Spurs goal. The opening 20 minutes flew by and the game seemed to be heading towards yet another classical encounter and a further chapter in the rich history between these two clubs. It is aways a showpiece occasion.
After repelling a number of those United attacks, Spurs began to make their own forays towards the United goal and in the 28th minute the stadium erupted with a cacophony of noise. Phil Jones in cutting out a Trippier cross could only divert the ball by the hapless De Gea into his own net to give Spurs what proved to be an unassailable two goal lead. Wembley was rocking and so was the United defence.
Spurs were now in the ascendency to such an extent fans were anticipating a three goal lead and the unwanted memories such a half time scoreline holds for Spurs fans at home to Manchester United. Amongst the chances, Dele went down in the box under a heavy challenge but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty and Kane brought a save from De Gea which might have brought a greater end product.
Alexis Sanchez was inevitably booed every time he touched the ball which was mostly in his own half defending Spurs attacks. Time and again Trippier was enjoying so much open space down the right flank. United were resorting to robust tactics with Son on the receiving end of two or three bad tackles and Kane was also receiving his fair share of punishment. Spurs went in at half time two goals to the good and the half time chatter was of how well the whole team was playing.
In the opening ten minutes of the second half, Spurs continued on the front foot looking for a third goal which would surely put the game to bed. An early two goal lead is however never enough. In the 56th minute United made a break and the game looked as if it would be turned on its head. Pogba put Lukaku through on goal but the hitherto largely untroubled Lloris rose to the occasion by crucially deflecting his fiercely struck shot over the bar to safety. For all Spurs dominance on such fine margins a game can hinge.
This rare attack though only proved the catalyst for a sustained assault on the United goal with wave after wave of attacks which threatened to blow United aside. Players were lining up to take shots - Eriksen fired just past the post, Son brought a good reflex save from De Gea when he perhaps should have squared; Kane could have done better on at least a couple of occasions and even Davies got forward to bring a save from the keeper.
Spurs were putting in a complete team performance. In possession, they were rampant, brave and at times scintillating. Without possession, they pressed all over the park, aggressive in the challenge and tactically astute. Before the game, with three defenders in Alderweireld, Rose and Aurier being out of the first eleven, there were concerns amongst the Spurs faithful as to how the defence might cope against the pace and skill of Unitedís attack. It was an unnecessary concern. The whole back was four was superb. Defenders were first to the challenge and taking it in turns to not only win possession but show Franz Beckenbauer-esque skills by striding forward through challenges to turn defence into attack within the blink of an eye.
Jan Vertonghen was majestic in all that he did, marshalling his troops along the back line, producing fine interceptions, winning headers and in dominating the United attack. The support of Sanchez, Davies and Trippier was of the highest order. Davies was immense on the night. Eric Dier put in an excellent performance in front of the defence putting out potential fires all over the field and in also finding time to start and support attacks.
Dembele was back to his very very best. There have recently been reservations as to his fitness and form but these were laid to rest last night. He was a giant, a monster, a beast patrolling the whole midfield. Winning the ball and driving forward with superb dribbling skills, power and some of the most exquisite sublime touches imaginable on a football field which had his adoring 81,978 fans purring with pleasure. (Ed:- minus the 3,000 United fans!)
A little further forward, Eriksen the magician ran the game. Earlier in his Spurs career there were questions as to whether he could ďdo itĒ against the big teams. Those doubts have now been well and truly banished and he is developing into a world class performer. Last night he mixed artistry with work rate and Scandinavian ice cool clinical composure. Christian Eriksen pulls the strings in this superb Tottenham side, interwoven within his sumptuous display were some outrageous passing moves. How his creativity was missed last time out away at Southampton.
Dele Alli found spaces across the park, stretched the United defence with his runs and opened up the play for others with his clever movement. Son seemed to be singled out for treatment as a danger man but still came back for more and was a constant threat on both flanks. Kane although not at his clinical best in front of goal, put in one hell of a shift. At times, he singlehandedly terrorised the United defence with his strength, swashbuckling runs and hold up play.
The one touch interplay by the team under intense pressure in the tightest of situations was spellbinding and left the United players chasing shadows before opening up the pitch to release players elsewhere in space. It really was a thrilling performance to behold and the fans responded in kind by generating a tremendous atmosphere. As the second half wore on and the outcome of the match seemed assured, Spurs' confidence and retention of the ball led the fans to ring out regular bursts of "ole ole ole". It truly was a chastening experience for the Manchester United players and supporters who began their exit with 15 minutes or more to go.
Manchester Unitedís away support is renowned for its continual singing. It was a measure of Spurs control and domination over proceedings that they were barely heard throughout the match. For all the right reasons it canít have been easy to pick a man of the match. All eleven players deserved the accolade.
And so the final whistle brought down the curtain on a fabulous performance by Tottenham. The added enjoyment of the three Bournemouth goals going in without reply at Stamford Bridge has closed the gap in the race for a top four place. The only disappointment was paradoxically the scoreline. At the start of play Spurs fans would have been delighted to take a 2-0 victory but by the end were believing a five or six goal margin would have given a more representative view of the nightís proceedings.
This was the first match in a really tough run of games for Spurs. The next hurdle is Liverpool and Anfield awaits the aristocrats from White Hart Lane in yet another massive encounter. Spurs will go there with confidence high. It is an opportunity to correct recent poor results at a stadium which has seen few Spurs away wins down the years. Letís hope so!
∑ Spurs Odyssey match report
John Ellis's Facebook page
El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
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