My Favourite Game: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United, September 29th 2001
It’s hard to describe to people who aren’t of our nature as Manchester United fans, why we don’t lose faith when we’re behind. More often than not, something happens to our team. We pull something so magical out of the bag that it defines who we are and what we do as a club. The team feels it, Sir Alex feels it and the fans feel it. The Champions League final victory over Munich was probably the most famous of those occasions. However that was only one goal. What happens when we go 3 down, before half time, away from home? Unfortunately for Spurs, on the 29th September 2001, they found out.
The first half of this game it appeared we were going to blown away. Debutant Dean Richards (R.I.P) put Spurs ahead with a close range header. He’d spent most of the initial 15 minutes keeping Ruud van Nistelrooy quiet and his efforts were rewarded with a defenders, close range header.
I speak of the magic we experience as United fans, but frustration comes in abundance too and when Blanc desperately tries to play Ferdinand offside after a cheeky lobbed pass from Poyet, I could feel the frustration growing. You can imagine the feeling when Ziege stooped down and headed in the third. Any football fan would admit defeat, take the loss on the chin. But something was different today. I felt it as we kicked off the second half. We score one, we have a chance.
Andy Cole delivered very much on cue. A trademark overlapping Neville run and cross was met by Cole a minute after the restart shifted the while entire balance of the game. Then when Blanc, at fault for Spurs’ second goal, met Beckham’s corner the White Hart Line crowd knew that there first half effort was in vain. We WERE going to equalise and we WERE going to win the game.
Along comes the equaliser. This time Ruud, so fruitless in the first half, proving the point he only needed one chance. Continuing the theme of the goals, another header pulled us level. It then fell to link up between Scholes and Solskjaer setting Juan Sebastian Veron to smash home the 4th. The fifth goal was one of those cherry on the cake moments. Beckham, having earlier provided an assist for Blanc, smashed a wonderful curling right foot effort to make it 5. Job done.
I don’t know many people who get to experience that with their club. I am sure fans teams who’ve won trophies have had their fair share of these moments. They define seasons. We’ve been graced with a few more since then. Villa at home and Federico Macheda’s instinctive turn and shot that turned the league back in our favour. Later in the same season, Spurs were two up at half time and the inevitable happened. What’s special about a performance like these is, at United, they don’t just define our season. They define our club.
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