Harry Redknapp more than held his own in the tactical battle with his counterpart but still lost the war
Harry Redknapp more than held his own in any tactical battle with Sir Alex Ferguson. His rejigged team, shorn of three major players, dictated the play but were swept aside by three incisive goals at crucial times. To United's credit they were alert and precise in the finishing stakes, but Sir Alex will accept and acknowledge that his team were at times troubled by a genuine challenger, which as a group played with true positivity, seemingly unworried by any press assertions of uncertainty due to managerial speculation.
United came out of their shell having incredibly built a three-goal lead. They had rarely shown any authority until Ashley Young put them 3-0 ahead and finally Tottenham's conviction faded.
They had begun patiently, moving the ball out wide with accurate, comfortable passing, dictating the pace of the game, and would consider themselves most unfortunate to trail at half-time.
Without Gareth Bale, Scott Parker and Rafael van der Vaart, Harry Redknapp used the influential Luka Modric, tucking in from a wide starting position, with Sandro and Jake Livermore instructed to impose themselves on Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes. They did this impressively and with Benoît Assou-Ekotto supporting down the left, when Modric moved infield, United were pushed back.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha looked alert to each other's movement. Aaron Lennon's pace threatened Patrice Evra and then bemused Phil Jones when he laid on Adebayor's disallowed goal.
Brad Friedel was not tested, but David de Gea too was not tested enough considering Tottenham's superiority. Scholes and Carrick were being overloaded by Tottenham's clever use of Modric. But United left the field in a great position at half-time having been second best. A great opportunity for some hairdryer treatment. Could they respond? And would Tottenham be deflated? These were the half-time questions.
Initially Tottenham did not allow United to respond, harassing early and starting on the front foot, but credit the red shirts for defending resolutely.
When United stole the second, Ryan Giggs replaced Scholes. Lennon continued to be a thorn but with a two-goal cushion United should have dictated the game. That was not so until Young's superb second, which ensured the title will go to one of the Manchester clubs.