On Saturday, Tottenham put a 23-year old jinx to bed in their sensational 3-2 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford. In the second half, Spurs certainly rode their luck, but this was no excuse for United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to have a little rant about the lack of injury time permitted to allow The Reds back into the game.
He Who Must Be Obeyed dictated that 4 minutes of injury time was disgraceful as there had been substitutions and all manner of time wasting shenanigans. For a game that had no major injuries or significant stoppages, 4 minutes seems about right to me. The rules say the referee is to add on 30 seconds for each substitution, which would have made for 3 minutes of added time, and then another minute was added on for this and that.
There is no doubt that Spurs were hanging on by their fingernails at the end, and they employed every trick in the book to see the game out. I wish it wasn’t the case and I wish that Aaron Lennon had felt confident enough to dribble the ball out of his own box, but this has been the way of professional football since time immemorial. Spurs are an attacking team, but they have been in this position before and normally crumble and get turned over. Being able to hang on by hook or by crook is arguably the sign of a maturing team
Long term followers of the game will have permitted themselves a little chuckle following The Dark Lord’s moan. It is a long held belief amongst ABU’s (Anyone but United) that no-one gets more injury time than a losing United team at Old Trafford. Perhaps he was reminiscing for the good old days, when United were awarded 7 minutes of injury time in order to win the league back in 1993. Or maybe he thought of the game in 2007 when Man Utd beat Man City after the linesman signalled there would be 4 minutes of injury time. The winning goal came courtesy of Michael Owen after 5 ½ minutes of Old Trafford Special Time had been played.
As it happens, The Guardian newspaper have done some research into this, which shows that when United are losing or drawing, they get over 60 seconds more of injury time than when they are winning. Overall, more injury time gets awarded at places like Anfield and White Hart Lane, but then United usually win at home, as opposed to Spurs and Liverpool.
For me, the most telling thing about this particular moan (and others like it) is that it comes as a result of losing a game. If managers were to make a stand about referees timekeeping on the back of a 5-0 victory against Chelsea, you might be inclined to take them more seriously. All that has happened here is that Ferguson has deflected the attention away from his teams’ inadequacies and his poor management