Only in football. Manchester United may have made a 100 per cent start to the Premiership season, but that is not good enough for some people. "Fergie out" was the cry outside the Carrington training ground on Friday, though an extended run of victories should satisfy even Disgruntled of Old Trafford.
An eighth-minute goal from Ryan Giggs was enough to make it four wins out of four for Sir Alex Ferguson's team, who have shrugged off the lack of new signings to make the flying start to the season their manager demanded. The handful of season-ticket holders who barracked the club two days ago may not be happy, but they are in a very small minority.
To be fair to the critics, this was probably United's least convincing display of the fledgling season, and Tottenham deserved at least a draw. The points went to the home team, however, to leave both Ferguson and Michael Carrick, the man United prised from Spurs in the summer, highly satisfied. With Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes ready to return from suspension for Wednesday's Champions' League tie against Celtic, it is difficult to see how the campaign to date could have gone much better.
Fate had decreed that Carrick would make his first home start for his new club against his erstwhile team-mates, but if that brought extra pressures to bear on the £18 million midfielder, he could play safe in the knowledge he was missed. "I would have loved him to stay," Martin Jol, the Tottenham manager, said, adding: "Nearly every one of our attacks started with him."
Carrick, who sustained an ankle injury in pre-season, lined up alongside John O'Shea in United's central midfield, but he was a bystander rather than an instigator for the opening goal, after eight minutes. Louis Saha had his legs whipped away by Edgar Davids and Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick, from 35 yards, had such a swerve and dip on it that Paul Robinson could only parry. Giggs followed up, heading in via the bar.
This was unjust on Spurs, who had dominated the early possession. A lot of ball adds to very little, however, if your threat is negligible, and it was appropriate that it was a centre-back rather than a striker who had the visitors' first proper chance. Davids chipped over United's static back four in the 38th minute and Michael Dawson was denied only by Edwin van der Sar's block. The goalkeeper reacted well, too, to charge down Ledley King's follow-up.
Tottenham began the second half brightly, too, and might have scored twice in the 53rd minute. Pascal Chimbonda shot from a narrow angle and almost eluded Van der Sar's dive after the ball deflected off Ronaldo. From the resulting corner Dawson got a good contact with his header but the ball, hit firmly into the ground, bounced too high.
Jermain Defoe was introduced as a substitute after 57 minutes and should have at least hit the target 10 minutes later when Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross gave him an unchallenged header. Instead he was well wide. Mido also failed to make proper contact with another ripe heading opportunity and it was with some relief that Old Trafford welcomed the final whistle. You cannot please all the people all the time, although at that instant the referee, Mike Riley, made the bulk of 75,433 people happy.Reuse content