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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Manchester United v Spurs, 06.05.2000

Last season's game - Man Utd 2 Spurs 1, 16.05.99
This season's home game - Spurs 3 Man Utd 1, 23.10.99
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full League Record of Spurs v Man Utd

Prem          Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           8   2   2   4   11-11    8
Away           7   0   1   6    3-13    1
Total (Prem)  15   2   3  10   14-24    9
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  51  20  19  12   89 -64  63
Away (Div 1)  51   9   9  33   55 -101 28
Total(Div 1) 102  29  28  45  144 -165 91
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   4   2   1   1   10 - 3   5
Away (Div 2)   4   1   2   1    3 - 3   4
Total(Div 2)   8   3   3   2   13 - 6   9
Total (Prem)  15   2   3  10   14-24    9
Total (Div 1) 102 29  28  45  144-165  91
Total (Div 2)  8   3   3   2   13 - 6   9
Grand Total   125 34  34  57  171-195 109

Our final away game of the season sees us making the long trip north to Old Trafford to play the 1999-2000 Premier League Champions. We have not won at Old Trafford since Gary Lineker scored the only goal of the game on 16th December 1989.

Manchester United need no introduction, of course, as they have been the best team in this country for much of the last decade. Their exploits include two League/Cup doubles and the unique treble last season. There can be no greater conclusion to a season than the dramatic events of the final minutes of last season's Champions' League Cup Final. It surpassed even the dramatic last second victory enjoyed by Arsenal at the expense of Liverpool at Anfield in season 1988-89.

This season has seen them retain the championship with very few problems, despite the fact that they were missing from the fixture lists for a month whilst they were competing in Brazil for the first ever World Club Championship. There have been competitions of that name between European and South American clubs but this competition was much more genuine than that in that the clubs competing came from different clubs around the world. Their success at home may have been helped by that break in the sun and their consequent absence from this season's FA Cup. But I suspect it was also a case of being assisted by the inexperience of Leeds United and Sunderland, who have not previously experienced the pressures of challenging for the championship before. Moreover, Chelsea and Arsenal, the two other leading contenders, were distracted from the main target by their own interests in Europe, with Arsenal's interest being divided by the qualifying competition for the Champions' League and then the UEFA Cup.

Tottenham, by contrast, have scarcely appeared in the news this season, apart from their ill-fated attempt to sign John Hartson, George Graham's recent illness, and their heavy defeat in the FA Cup at Newcastle being the main headlines involving the fading giants. Their last second defeat by Kaiserlautern was the biggest disappointment of their season. Each season's hopes quickly turn out to be mirages in a Sahara desert for their football fans as they seek the Holy Grail of a team that can play with flair and panache to match the exploits of past teams.

If Tottenham's players wonder this morning why they are failing to keep up with Manchester United, they should take note of one or two things. One is the fact that it is rare to see any of their outfield players walking around nonchantly whether their team has possession of the ball or not. If they have possession of the ball, they are quick to lend support to the player in possession by making runs off the ball, either to act as a diversion or to run to a better position so the ball can be passed to them. If they have lost possession of the ball, they harry the opposition endlessly until they regain possession of the ball. In a team of stars, there are no prima donnas of the kind that George Best used to be in the 1970s when he frequently vanished, AWOL. No one demands a transfer even when they are warming the substitute's bench as they know there is not a better club in Europe to play for, apart from, probably, Real Madrid or Juventus.

Manchester United will be at full strength this morning for their final home game of the season. They will be receiving the Championship trophy at the conclusion of the game. It will probably be more of an exhibition than a League match unless Tottenham decide to take the game to Manchester United. There is no point in trying to play for a point at Old Trafford. Tottenham simply are not good enough to try this suicidal tactic. If they attempt to do so and Manchester United are in the mood, we might witness another awful defeat like the one we sustained in December. Certainly, if we try to attack Jaap Stam, we might find a crevice through which Chris Armstrong might wriggle through. But there is more chance of seeing six pink pigs flying over Old Trafford than seeing a Tottenham victory. Even Tottenham's great double winners could not win at Old Trafford in January 1961.

The question is just how big the margin of defeat will be for Tottenham. That will depend on the mood of the Manchester United players who are sure to want to send their supporters home from the final home game of the season happy. Even if Tottenham win, there will be very few supporters present to enjoy the sight of Tottenham spoiling the party. I hazard the guess that Tottenham will probably lose 3-1, with Chris Armstrong scoring a late goal as the Reds relax.

COME ON YOU SPURS! Prove us all wrong and WIN!

Cheers, Brian

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