First things first – credit to Three-Touch O’ Hara and Brylcreem Bentley for volunteering for the first and third pens. The execution from each was hopeless, but the sentiment was noble. Conspiracy theorists dredging up “ex-gooner” rants can go boil their heads.Second things second – the outcome was fair, and I emphasise that I have no ground for dissent, but I’ll maintain to my dying day that John O’ Shea should have been sent off in the second half of normal time. Irritatingly I was wearing my thoroughly partisan Spurs hat when the heinous offence occurred, so I really could not quote the minute, manner or general spatio-temporal area. However, having been cautioned in the first half he merrily scythed down Modric ( I think), and got away with little more than a moody glare from referee, and bottler-in-chief, Chris Hoy. Had he not been cautioned earlier O’ Shea most certainly would have been cautioned for the particular offence. Tottenham, being Tottenham, would undoubtedly have failed to break down ten men, so I won’t suggest that as an excuse/reason for our eventual failure to draw a bank against eleven men, but I nevertheless cantankerously grumble at Mr Hoy.
Third things third – I reckon the ref actually got the Ronaldo penalty claim right, albeit on a technicality. The first offence was Ronaldo executing the first part of a dive. The second offence was Ledley clipping him. I doubt that bottle-job Foy saw it that way – I presume he saw it as a dive from start to finish – but in the strictest sense I consider that Foy stumbled upon the correct decision, albeit by accident rather than design. The first offence was a dive. If Little Miss Ronaldo had stayed on his feet rather than looking for the dive then he ought to have been awarded a pen.
Fourth things fourth – did Woody really turn an ankle by falling down the stairs of the team hotel?
Those are moot points. Frankly, it struck me as a fair enough result. My gripe, again, tediously, is the damned insistence upon 4-5-fricking-1. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY??? With no strikers on the bench it was always a slightly tough call, and Pav did not exactly have a blinder, but withdrawing him after 70, with extra-time looming, was madness on a par with David Icke’s push for celestial pre-eminence. The game-plan was working relatively well, following an excessively wobbly opening 25 mins, so why take off a striker? Switching from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 simply removed any hope we might have had of bludgeoning down the fantastically-marshalled Man Utd rearguard.
Any attack we mounted thereafter left Bent on his own against three or more defenders. No logic to that one – Bent would struggle against a single defender with one leg and no eyes. Even when we were gifted possession and able to counter-attack we were nowhere near a numerical advantage. I’m blessed with a small forehead and a thick head of hair, and as such I’m unlikely ever to go bald. This allowed me to pull my hair out without any concern for long-term aesthetic devaluation, so I was able to yank out great big clumps without any obvious effect upon my unkempt mop. Mind you, several vital organs – including, notably, the heart – suffered considerable damage as one aimless ball after another was lofted hopelessly towards big, bad, misfiring Dazza, on his own, practising that Darren Bent look. You know the one – confused, hurt, hands half-raised towards the head.
I suppose it would have made little difference to a game that had “draw” tattooed across ever spare inch of it. Lennon and Modric, as expected, were the source of everything good in lilywhite. Bent had a half-chance of glory, but being Bent it simply was not ordained by the gods. Their ‘keeper, that Foster lad, played a blinder, irritatingly. Little Miss Ronaldo almost broke our hearts in the cruellest possible fashion after 92-and-a-half of the 93 minutes. But all told, it was pretty even.
A final point. Apparently, as the teams prepared for pens, United keeper Foster had a quick peek at an iPod showing Spurs players’ previous pens. The first of which was Three-Touch O’Hara thwacking one to the right – now there’s a coincidence. No idea what Gomes was up to at that point. Probably practising that stand-on-the-spot-and-stick-out-an-arm dance routine. Nothing wrong with a full-stretch dive, Heurelho. Maybe those are the margins.