So here's a stat: not only have Spurs failed to win here since 1989, not counting the time they did thanks to Pedro Mendes but weren't allowed to, they've also failed to register a victory in any of their last 67 away games against the Traditional Big Four. I mean, for goodness sake and come on.
Their latest, no doubt doomed, attempt to break this pitiful run begins at: 5.30pm.
And look who'll be leading their line: Robbie Keane.
Manchester United are still missing Wayne Rooney, who has severe strain of the ego: Van der Sar (40), Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Park, L Pea, Berbatov.Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Smalling, Scholes, O'Shea, Obertan, Bebe.
Anyone trust this Tottenham back line? Gomes, Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Modric, Jenas, Bale, Van der Vaart, Keane.Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar, Sandro.
In the eye of a storm come 7.15pm, we'll be bound: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
Anyway, in more important news, there's a protest march going on against those clowns who have loaded about a billion pounds worth of debt onto United. According to Daniel Taylor of Guardian Media Group's very own Guardian newspaper, a few bottles have been thrown as the throng ambled down Sir Matt Busby Way, and an attempt has been made to smash down the Megastore doors. For those of you who think this sort of donnybrook is futile, may I direct you to this.
A brave pre-match prediction: "It seems rather odd that, having realised Crouch is out of form/not terribly good, Redknapp goes straight past Pavlyuchenko and opts for Robbie Keane who's been out of form/ not terribly good for around two years now," opines Lee James, not unreasonably. "After Phil Neville's masterclass against Gareth Bale last weekend, it will be interesting to see how the inexperienced Rafael compares. My guess: Rafael red card."
The Traditional Big Four: the debate begins. "You make the claim that Spurs have now gone 67 games without winning against the Traditional Big Four," begins Thor Magnus. "But who are these four? Traditionally, there is only a Big Three: United, Liverpool and Arsenal. If there is a fourth member of this elite, surely that should be Everton? Chelsea may now have bought their way into the Big Four, but still, please do not rewrite history." Actually, wasn't there a Big Five back in the 1980s of Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Basingstoke Town Tottenham Hotspur? But I'll settle for your definition, Thor. I make it a rule not to pick arguments with people called Thor Magnus. I'm very, very, very sorry, sir.
Making its seasonal debut today: The yellow ball. That it's come to reporting things like this.
And we're off! Little Pea has a quick chat with God in the centre circle, and United get the ball rolling. It's pumped down the right towards Nani, who goes up with Assou-Ekotto for a high ball. Nani falls to the ground and complains at having his thigh scraped by the defender's studs. There wasn't much in that, the referee agreeing, but still Nani refuses to shake Assou-Ekotto's hand.
2 min: Park takes the ball up in the centre, advances towards the edge of the Spurs box, and zips a peach of a shot onto the base of Tottenham's left-hand post! What a shot! How unlucky. Then, down the left, Nani falls over his own feet and claims for a penalty. Naughty. This has been a lively start by the home side.
5 min: Lennon zips down the right and cuts into the United area, but can't sort out either a cross or a shot. Fletcher goes over on his ankle and hops around in pain for a bit. "So, how many years does it take to make something a tradition?" wonders Brendan Large. "There has been a very 'traditional' top four for the past several seasons (bar the last), so personally I agree with your assessment. But then I'm not scared of a name, having been christened Double 'ard Bastard." Is there any need for such language? Isn't Mr Large enough?
7 min: Modric, Keane and Van der Varrt play it around in pretty patterns down the middle. It's lovely stuff, but Gallas, coming up to join the move, had romped into an offside position and it's all for naught. Nobody's sitting back here.
8 min: Vidic stumbles in midfield, miscontrols, and lets Van der Vaart zip off with the ball. The Spurs man heads towards the area, drifts right, nearly loses control himself, then turns and skelps a wonderful effort towards the top-left corner. Unfortunately for him, it's a touch too far left and bangs against the left-hand post. That's 1-1 now in desperately unlucky efforts.
10 min: Another half-chance for Van der Vaart, who hoicks a shot over the bar from the edge of the area. United will have to watch this lad, who once again looks in the mood today.
13 min: United pass it around patiently in the middle for ages. Suddenly they spring forward, Berbatov slipping Park into the area. The United midfielder checks in from the right and attempts a curler towards the top left, but gets too much on it and his effort sails wide. "As I'm always remarking to the Mrs and (very loudly) to the TV during matches against the big four, how come the lesser teams can occasionally manage a win, yet Spurs consistently fail?" sobs Doug Montgomery. "It's obviously not simply the oft gleefully stated 'gulf in class', but something worse. It's psychological. When Spurs start believing they can win against Man United at Old Trafford (or even at home), they'll stand a better chance."
16 min: A lull. Spurs had been over-excitable for a few minutes, so United are taking the sting out of the game by stroking it around the back a lot. It's like watching Liverpool in 1983.
17 min: Gallas is booked for attempting to shell Little Pea.
18 min: Rafael twists and turns down the right and into the box. It's a brilliant run at pace, with the chance to shoot opening up, but he drags a lame effort well wide right.
20 min: Carrick hits a tasty slowly rising drive from the left-hand corner of the Spurs box. Gomes is behind it all the way, though he momentarily spills the ball and has to smother before Little Pea can pounce.
21 min: Ferdinand stands around yawning and scratching his arse as Bale runs off with the ball on the byline, to the left of the United goal. In fairness to Rio, the ball went out, but that's not really the point; it was terrible defending to let Bale scamper free. Happily for United, Van der Sar narrows the angle and puts Bale's shot out for a corner. From which nothing much happens.
23 min: Spurs are really going for this, though. Now Lennon, Modric and Van der Vaart ping it around in mathematical patterns down the right, Lennon nearly finding Keane free in the centre. Vidic clears well. Hutton attempts to score from the right, a yard for each year Van der Sar has been on the planet. Have some respect for your elders, will you!
25 min: Nani diddles down the left. He slips the ball into the centre for Berbatov, who despite lying on the ground, thinking about existential literature, manages to knock the ball back into the path of Fletcher, who shoots towards the bottom left. Gomes gets down well to save.
28 min: Van der Vaart probes down the right, Bale nudges Rafael backwards down the left. But nothing comes of the move. Keane isn't showing in the centre, choosing instead to faff around in the hole. It's almost as if they'd do better with Pavlyuchenko on the pitch. "After Phil Neville's masterclass against Bale last weekend it would have been even more interesting to see how his embarassingly crap/over the hill brother coped against the Welsh wizard," suggests Bernard Walsh. "Unfortunately having seen Citizen Nev's travails against Matthew Etherington against Stoke he's even less likely than Rooney to be picked in the near future."
30 min: Now it's Kaboul's turn to attempt to shell the Pea. He too is booked for his bother.
31 min: GOAL!!! AND SO IT BEGINS. Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur. So simple, this. Nani takes the free kick, 30 yards out on the right. It's swung onto the edge of the six-yard box, where Vidic heads powerfully and crisply into the left-hand side of the net.
33 min: Spurs attempt to come straight back at United, Bale skinning Rafael down the right. He gets to the byline and chips a cross into the centre, but Vidic heads clear. "In reference to the yellow ball nonsense," begins Steven Hughes, "it's also an annoyance that someone, somewhere, came up with that idea; that they believed it worthy enough to be put into action; that someone else followed through on it and so we all get denied the loin-tingling excitement of a bright orange ball being used on the days when a game looks like it's taking place on the set of John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. Football is dying a death from a thousand cuts."
36 min: Hilariously inept defending by United. Bale takes a quick throw down the left, allowing Van der Vaart to skate clear into the box down the inside-left channel! Luckily for the home side, Van der Vaart panics and drags a dreadful shot across the face of goal and miles right.
37 min: A corner for Spurs on the left. The ball's sent straight out to Modric, on the edge of the United D. He chests down and sends a shot sailing towards the top-right corner. Van der Sar is behind it all the way, and palms clear. That was great football all round.
38 min: Now Berbatov sends a rising drive from the left into the arms of Gomes. This is really open, a very aesthetically pleasing show indeed.
42 min: Another lull. They have to happen occasionally, the players are attacking at full pelt.
43 min: Jenas tries to curl one into the top-right but slips as he shoots and the ball flies well wide right of target.
44 min: Berbatov shoots from a tight angle on the left. Gomes saves but spills. The striker tries to get another shot in, but Hutton and Gallas combine well to hustle him out of it.
HALF TIME: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur. The end to a very open 45 minutes of football. Spurs have looked very confident flowing forward, though they've not really created any clear-cut chances. A similar story for United, on the whole, the goal excepted. "What you have failed miserably to note about the yellow ball," writes Ian Copestake, "is that due to the wonder of modern techno-gadgetry it turns gradually orange during a game as Vidic's head rubs more and more of the new paint off it."
NFL Half Time Show with Marc Fagelson: "May I apologize on behalf of all NFL fans for saddling you with the Niners-Broncos 'matchup' at Wembley tomorrow? Whatever one's thoughts on American football, this one's a stinker. A bit like West Ham v Bolton, perhaps? Though I think Bolton are higher up in the table than either of these two."
And we're off again! No changes.
46 min: Brilliant by Park and L Pea, who exchange crisp passes on the edge of the Spurs box. The wee Pea is free down the inside-left, but can only screw a shot wide left as he loses his balance and falls backwards to reach the ball.
47 min: Berbatov nearly breaks clear, then almost manages to release Park into the centre with a backheel, but he's marshalled well by Kaboul and the ball is eventually poked clear by Hutton. A really bright start to the half by United.
50 min: A couple of crosses from the left by Bale, but there's no direction to either of them. Spurs have yet to get going in this period. Speaking of slow starts... "The matchup looked fine when first announced but both teams are having a mare and the coaches will pay the price at season's end," opines 49ers Phil.
54 min: Spurs can't get anything going whatsoever. United will be very happy with this, even though they're not creating too much themselves. "Vidic is probably the greatest player with the speed of a Spectrum 48k loading Daley Thompson's Decthalon in the world today," writes Ben Dunn. "How can you be world class and not able to break out of a trot?" Who's the Epyx Summer Games for Commodore 64 in this analogy? Rio? Ledley King? Short bursts of quality action, if memory serves, but you had to wait a ludicrous amount of time between games.
56 min: Nani suddenly sees a fair bit of the ball. A couple of fairly aimless crosses from the right, though the first is misdirected when looking for Berbatov and nearly loops into the top-left corner, Gomes doing well to snatch clear. Meanwhile Michael Aston has a message for 49ers Phil: "The Denver game will be a lot better than most expect. Both teams despite horrible records are still very much in contention in their divisions."
59 min: Bale picks the ball up in the centre circle and drifts a tad right as he hares towards the box. With his weaker foot, he skelps a low shot just wide left of the target. A great run, though I reckon Van der Sar had that well covered. "Gary Lineker the last player to score a winner for Spurs at Old Trafford? I expect it was a 'crisp' finish!" Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for Mike Down, he's here all week, try the smoky bacon flavour.
61 min: The utterly abject Robbie Keane makes way for Roman Pavlyuchenko.
64 min: A double change for United: Wes Brown and Paul Scholes come on for Rafael and a radged-off Dimitar Berbatov.
65 min: Nani hits a very weak free kick into the grateful arms of Gomes from a promising position just to the left of the D. "I'm glad no one reported on my yellow ball when it made its seasonal debut," writes Mac Millings. "A trip to the Nether Doctor followed by a lifelong course of antibiotics and pungent ointment is embarrassment enough as it is. Mind you, its an improvement on when it was orange." Should I be putting this in the public domain? Probably not, is the answer, but it's done now and it's Millings who'll have to live with the consequences.
67 min: "Can someone please explain why Jenas is still on the pitch?" splutters an incredulous Phill Wainwright. Afraid not, Phill, but just as your email pinged into my inbox, so Arry's Ook yanked him off the pitch. Palacios comes on in his stead.
69 min: The Little Pea scoots down the middle, drifting to the right of the D, to pick up a pass from Nani from the right. He takes a first-time shot towards the bottom-left; Gomes is down quickly to claim. Brilliant play all round. "In commentary on Fox, Gareth Southgate makes a bid for Alan Shearer territory after the camera picks out Hernandez senior in the crowd watching his son," writes David Wall, who as we shall see is in tinder-dry form this evening. "According to Southgate it must be beyond the wildest dreams of this Mexican football legend who played at a home World Cup in 1986 to be watching his son at Old Trafford. I'll bet that when turning out at the Azteca what was really on his mind was how he wished he could experience the atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams."
70 min: Pavlyuchenko - the Big P? - twists down the inside-right channel and slaps a very decent rising effort into the side netting from the edge of the area. Spurs haven't really bothered Van der Sar at all during this half.
72 min: Where's Rafael van der Vaart? What's he up to?
73 min: Speak of the devil, there he is, turning Vidic in the left-hand side of the United box and wheeching a low shot straight down Van der Sar's throat. Here's Brandon Clements regarding the NFL match to be played at Wembley: "t can best be described as the Wigan vs Blackburn match of this years NFL season. Featuring a has been quarterback on the 49'ers side in Carr (tragically has-been, it must be said; dude got whacked so many times when he played for the then-expansion Texans that I'm surprised he doesn't flinch in his dreams) and a never-will-be quarterback for the Bronco's in Orten (who can best be described as the Shola Ameobe of NFL quarterbacks), I wouldn't watch this game. And I'm an American."
74 min: Spurs have turned it up a bit. The Big P takes a shot at goal from 30 yards. It's deflected by Vidic and flies just wide right. Van der Sar was rooted to the spot, so if that had been a foot or so to the left, it'd have flown in the net. United deal with the corner easily.
77 min: Crouch, to pantomime boos, replaces a limping Van der Vaart. "Live with the consequences?" parrots the shameless Mac Millings (65 min). "The kinds of things you would only admit to on your death bed are probably the equivalent of my finest moments. Don't forget, you're talking about a 'man' who has an annually-yellow knacker." Readers, I'm sorry you all have to see this.
79 min: Evra twists and turns down the left, but doesn't really get anywhere. Old Trafford is very quiet at the moment. "Please tell me Millings is talking about the ball of his foot," pleads Phil Sawyer. Sure, I'll say anything to change the subject. "I used to think it was a shame he lives on the other side of the pond. Now I'm not so sure that's a bad thing."
80 min: According to EPSN, Van der Vaart has got hamstring twinge, or something. Rafael Benitez will be doing a jaunty little jig as I type.
82 min: Old Trafford are booing Peter Crouch with his every touch, but it's hard to get the impression they really mean it. It's all very half-arsed. Even with his Liverpudlian past, the rabid denizens of Mancunia don't seem that annoyed by his very presence. You can't get cross with Crouch, really, can you? It'd be like losing the place completely when faced with a bowl of semolina.
85 min: CONTROVERSY AHOY!!! Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur. Well, here's a fresh outrage for everyone to prattle on about all next week. First Nani goes down in the box after a very, very light touch from Hutton. That's never a penalty, more of a dive. Not that it makes any difference. As he slides along the floor, Nani places his hand on the top of the ball and rolls it back with his hand. Gomes picks it up, then pops it down on the ground with a view to taking the free kick that's surely coming. At which point Nani, standing nearby, nips in and strokes the ball into the net, just to see what happens. And what happens is, after a long debate with the linesman, who has his flag up in favour of Spurs, referee Mark Clattenburg awards the goal. What a stupendiously stupid decision. Spurs are livid. Oh dear. Having said all of that, United played to the whistle, even if it should have blown. And I'm not sure the direction of the game has been affected, because Spurs were looking pretty damn impotent up front, United seeing out the match in total control.
88 min: That was all very confusing. Nani should have been booked for the dive, the free kick given, the goal disallowed. Oh, by the way, the wee Pea has been replaced by Obertan.
90 min: There will be four added minutes, but make no mistake, this is over. Spurs are wandering around like men who have just been mugged.
FULL TIME: Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur. Here, it was Mark Clattenburg who refereed when Pedro Mendes scored his ghost goal here, wasn't it? Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.