Spurs earn the right to a taste of Fergie's anger


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Once, when asked why Sir Alex Ferguson was suddenly so nice about him, Arsène Wenger replied wistfully that he was no longer seen as a threat at Old Trafford. Manchester United's great helmsman invariably praises those he regularly beats. Tottenham Hotspur had not won there since 1989. In his programme notes, Ferguson, pictured, gushed: "Managers and coaches come and go but it seems to be in the genes at Tottenham that they will play with a quality and style that is good to watch."

He was not quite so complimentary after the match, attacking Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel for time-wasting and claiming it was "an insult to the game" that referee Chris Foy added only four minutes of stoppage time. Today, preparing for the Champions League game with Cluj, Ferguson is in Transylvania, a place where you can expect to be bitten.

Steven Caulker, who was not born when Gary Lineker scored Tottenham's last winner at Old Trafford, was in the thick of a defence that, under enormous pressure, buckled but did not break. "When it got to 2-1 and 3-2, there were times when you have to stand strong and hold the line," said the 20-year-old graduate of the Tottenham academy.