Ashley Young scored only two goals this season, both in the same match, in what would become the historic 8-2 win over Arsenal. Months later, and another London opponent brought the best out of him, as Young scored twice in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Tottenham, keeping them two points behind the league leaders.
You can call it luck, but when it happens time after time, there more to it. After nearly 20 years of Manchester United dominance under Alex Ferguson, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Attacking football is for dummies, especially against toothless opponents. Tottenham made the wrong choices when they had the chances, while United defended with discipline and bravery, striking at perfect precision and timing.
When Tottenham’s 32 minute goal was disallowed because of a correct decision by Martin Atkinson, you felt that United would sting back. Emmanuel Adebayor argued and argued, but that didn’t change the fact that he helped the ball go in after touching the ball. Wayne Rooney headed an Ashley Young cross right before half time, in United’s first or second attack of the match.
Second half? More of the same. Spurs were missing Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart, but that didn’t stop them from completely dominating the match and creating immense pressure on United. Young & criticized David de Gea gave one of his finer performances in the United uniform, stopping a few difficult long range tries. Tottenham, despite Aaron Lennon’s excellent bursts through the wing, couldn’t create any close range threat, with Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans standing in the way of every attempt.
The second sting operation came in 60th minute. A clever throw in eventually led to an acrobatic goal by Ashely Young from a very difficult angle. The third goal was just a matter of time, and Ashley Young scored the best of the match with a beautiful curling effort from 20 meters.
The rest of the match was garbage time, with Jermain Defoe scoring a non-consolation goal for Tottenham. Spurs haven’t beaten United since Glenn Hoddle was the manager, and the moment they couldn’t find the net early on, it did feel like United would, as usual, find the net, despite another lukewarm display in terms of creativity and attractiveness. Spurs have scored more goals than any other team this season in the first 15 minutes of the match.
Attacking football is for dummies. United began the season with a different set of mind. Emulating Barcelona was on the agenda. But that 6-1 humiliation at Old Trafford shuffled the cards, and Ferguson went back to his known ways, with Giggs and Scholes still carrying this team when needed. Why fix a formula that has been so successful for so long?