Tottenham 3-0 Manchester United: Remembering the Six-Minute Blitz Symbolic of Poch's Spurs

​It had been 15 years since Tottenham had last beaten Manchester United at White Hart Lane. On that day it was a Willem Korsten brace who inspired Spurs to victory in a game that meant very little to their imperious opposition - they'd already been crowned Premier League champions. 

But when Louis van Gaal's side turned up on N17 in mid-April 2016 - late, by the way, so kick-off was delayed by half an hour - there was certainly a sense of optimism among the Lilywhite faithful, that this was the time to finally get the monkey off their backs. 

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

Spurs were the new kid on the block under Mauricio Pochettino. Spearheaded by a youthful core, they were Leicester's closest challengers for the title - but after the Foxes had beaten Sunderland 2-0 just hours prior, the gap between the two sides was ten points. A victory over previously invincible opposition was imperative in north London on that Sunday afternoon.

So, how did it all unfold?

Well, after 69 minutes of frenetic Premier League action, the game was still locked at 0-0 - with the sides' remarkable intensity out of possession meaning it was almost a game of 'two-touch' on the compact White Hart Lane pitch.

Little did Spurs fans know, but an unforgettable six-minute spell symbolic of the Pochettino era would follow. 

It was a blitz kickstarted by breakout star Dele Alli - who scored his eighth league goal of the season after ghosting in behind an unbalanced United defence before latching onto a wonderfully weighted cross/pass by Christian Eriksen. Toby Alderweireld then grabbed the hosts' second just minutes later with an expertly taken glancing header before this happened...

"Spurs in full cry here,, two, three!"

Erik Lamela

Martin Tyler's description of Erik Lamela's strike will live long in the memory for those of a Lilywhite persuasion, particularly of fans who weren't fortunate enough to be apart of the cacophony of noise coming from White Hart Lane that day

It was a fine goal elevated by the magic of Tyler; Kyle Walker sprayed a sumptuous diagonal out to Eriksen who flicked it on for a surging Danny Rose. The left-back's inch-perfect cut-back was laid on a plate for the onrushing Argentine who swept his left-footed effort past David De Gea from the edge of the area. 

Game. Set. Match. 

Manchester United

Key Talking Point

It was yet another disappointing afternoon for Van Gaal, with United's performance one that we'd become accustomed to seeing in the 2015/16 campaign. 

Louis van Gaal

Despite their delayed arrival not allowing for a 'proper' warm-up, the visitors certainly had the better of the opening exchanges - with Morgan Schneiderlin effectively closing down Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele while United's intense counter-press suffocated the hosts, leading to a frantic encounter played at a remarkable pace.

But while they were structurally organised and defensively sound, United simply couldn't penetrate the Spurs defence. The marauding runs of Rose meant Juan Mata was forced into deep, defensive positions, ensuring he couldn't influence the game in an attacking sense. Jesse Lingard, meanwhile, proved ineffective when trying to set free the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial...because he's Jesse Lingard.

After registering just one shot on target - albeit one Martial should've scored from - defeat seemed inevitable and it was offensive performances like that one which made it understandable as to why they scored just 49 league goals that season - 20 less than Spurs.

Manchester United Player Ratings

Starting XI: De Gea (7); Fosu-Mensah (9), Smalling (8), Blind (7), Rojo (6); Schneiderlin (7), Carrick (6); Mata (5), Lingard (5), Martial (6); Rashford (5).

Substitutes: Young (4), Darmian (4), Depay (N/A).

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

The departure of the Premier League rookie in the second period was undoubtedly a turning point. 

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

The teenager, at the time, put in a stellar display at right-back, tasked with tracking every move made by Eriksen. His aggression and physicality ensured he frustrated the Dane in the opening period while he also often got the better of Alli when the pair were matched up one-v-one.

In what as a mature display, Fosu-Mensah's astute positioning proved pivotal in shunning the hosts while he was on the field. His replacement, Matteo Darmian, simply couldn't cope with the intensity of Spurs' front four - allowing Eriksen to assist Alli's opener before giving away the free-kick which led to the Lilywhites' second. 


Key Talking Point

"Lads, it's Tottenham"

Those were the notorious words uttered by Fergie to describe the Lilywhites during United's pomp. A soft-touch, pushovers, mentally weak. 

Dele Alli

And after Jamie Vardy had struck twice at the Stadium of Light to extend the Foxes lead at the top to double digits, Spurs could've easily rolled over against a United side who ensured they didn't have it all their own way.

But Poch's Spurs were different, a little bit special. Despite rarely testing De Gea between the United sticks, they continued to trust the process; with their supreme fitness levels and the narrow, interchanging triumvirate behind Harry Kane eventually coming to the fore to help spark an iconic spell of football at their old ground. 

Pochettino had not only altered the club's mentality, but he'd also instilled a style of play that the Spurs faithful loved to watch.

Spurs Player Ratings

Starting XI: Lloris (6); Walker (7), Alderweireld (9), Vertonghen (8), Rose (7); Dier (7), Dembele (8); Lamela (8), Alli (8), Eriksen (8); Kane (7).

Substitutes: Chadli (6), Son (N/A), Mason (N/A).

Toby Alderweireld

The Belgian proved why he was not only regarded as one of the finest defenders in the division at the time, but also in Europe. 

Toby Alderweireld

Partnered alongside Jan Vertonghen once more - who had just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off - the Belgian duo made light work of a tame United attack. Alderweireld was largely responsible in ensuring Rashford - who had let loose against Arsenal and City in previous weeks - had little effect on proceedings while he simply bullied makeshift number nine option Ashley Young in the second period. 

His masterclass was capped off by scoring his side's second at the other end, guiding Lamela's free-kick into the far corner with a glancing header.

Things That Aged Worst

Danny Rose,Morgan Schneiderlin

Remarkably, Spurs' end of season capitulation was one foreshadowed by kit makers Under Armour. The US brand opted for a horrendous navy seatbelt across the front of the home strip, ensuring no-one was harmed during their May car-crash.

Keeping with Spurs: how good were Walker and Rose back then? My word. The marauding full-backs were up and down the White Hart Lane flanks like a pair of Apollo 11's, wreaking havoc in the final third while boasting the aggression and recovery speed to shut out opposing wingers. The decline at both positions for Spurs in recent years has been staggering.

Things That Aged the Best

Harry Kane,Son Heung-min

Following his summer arrival from Bayer Leverkusen, Son Heung-min endured a relatively quiet maiden campaign in north London. 

And with Pochettino favouring his Argentine compatriot Lamela against the Red Devils, Son was only good enough for a late five-minute cameo - showing off his weird ginger-highlighted barnet as he graced the White Hart Lane turf.

Nevertheless, the South Korean would go on to reach unthinkable heights at Spurs; establishing himself as an elite winger who thrived on the counter. He's since scored over 50 Premier League goals, becoming an indispensable member of Pochettino's - and now Jose Mourinho's - side.

Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Tottenham Hotspur v Fiorentina - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg

The home side's bench that day makes Spurs' season all the more impressive. Kevin Wimmer, who stood in ably for Vertonghen before the United clash, Tom Carroll - now of Swansea - and the tragically retired Ryan Mason were just a few of the talents ready to make an impact.

In summary, Pochettino was a magician.

On the United side; shout-out to Morgan Schneiderlin - who had a fine game in central-midfield amid a troubled spell in Manchester. Lyon talisman Memphis Depay also made an appearance, with his only contribution being a scuffle with Walker in front of the rowdy east stand.

What Happened Next?


In typical Spurs fashion, they'd go on to infamously finish third in a two-horse race. A draw at home to West Brom two weeks after the United rout significantly dented their title charge, while Chelsea's second-half comeback the following week in 'The Battle of the Bridge' secured Leicester the title. 

A 5-1 humiliation on the final day at the relegated Newcastle then allowed bitter rivals Arsenal to leapfrog them into second on the final day. 

United, meanwhile, enjoyed a fine run of form to round off the campaign; winning four of their next six. It wasn't enough, however, to see them into the top-four as Van Gaal was sacked after the season - with Mourinho filling the Dutchman's boots at Old Trafford.


Did van Gaal deploy Young up top for a laugh, or was it a genuine tactic?

Seriously, what happened to Timothy Fosu-Mensah?

Are Under Armour psychic?

Please, somebody, give me answers!

Source : 90min