Spurs No2: It will be ‘like a dream’ to take on Manchester United again
EXCLUSIVE: Steffen Freund says it is “like a dream” to be involved in the heavyweight contest between Manchester United and Tottenham again as he prepares for tomorrow’s crunch clash at Old Trafford.
And Spurs’ new assistant coach believes that Andre Villas-Boas’ new-look Lilywhites are fully capable of ending United’s 11-year unbeaten record against Spurs.
Freund was on the bench as a Tottenham player when the north Londoners last beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, with Willem Korsten and Les Ferdinand scoring in a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane in May 2001.
It has been even longer since Spurs overcame United at Old Trafford – a 1-0 victory in December 1989, when Gareth Bale was just five months old.
But Freund, who played 131 games for Spurs between 1999 and 2003, is relishing the chance to banish those demons and restore Tottenham’s pride.
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“I can’t wait for this game,” he said. “As a player it’s always a special game at Old Trafford and, now that I’m back in the Premier League as assistant coach, being involved is like a dream.
“I think Manchester United like to beat Tottenham because it’s one of the biggest clubs in England too. It’s a big clash in English football and that’s why they’re always at their highest level against Spurs.
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“So many things have changed at this club and we are growing from game to game now. We have played quite well in most of the games so far and we were close to beating Norwich and West Brom at home.
“We lost those four points but we beat Reading away and played really well at Newcastle. Our away form is good so we’re looking forward to playing well and taking something away from Old Trafford.
“We know how strong they are at home with the supporters behind them – especially with their long-term unbeaten run against Spurs.
“That means it is not easy for us, but I’m sure everyone will look forward to that game and will enjoy it, and if we perform like the last two away games it’s possible to take a point or to win there.
“If we are 1-0 down in the last minute and we score then a draw will be fine, but of course we will try to win because we have a lot of quality in our squad.
“I think we have shown that in most of the games so far, and if we keep that going it’s not easy to beat us.”
Having returned to White Hart Lane during the summer, Freund is backing another two of Spurs’ recent arrivals to lead the charge this weekend.
Mousa Dembele played at Old Trafford for Fulham last month – just four days before his move to Tottenham – and he produced an outstanding display in a narrow 3-2 defeat, while his fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen was the man of the match in the 2-1 victory over QPR on Sunday.
“I know how well Mousa did for Fulham against Manchester United, and he’s been fantastic so far for us too,” said Freund.
“It’s unbelievable for me to see not only Mousa but Jan Vertonghen too – the new signings – coming into the squad and playing fantastic football after only a few weeks. That’s surprised me a little bit but of course I’m really happy about it.”
Meanwhile Freund admits that United’s own stellar signing, Robin van Persie, could have an equally big say on proceedings.
“He’s one of the best strikers in the Premier League, maybe the world, and if you can buy him it’s always the right decision,” said the German.
“Sometimes you have even games and when you have Robin van Persie on your side he will make the difference.
“It’s happened already – I remember the game against Southampton [when Van Persie scored a hat-trick as United came from behind to win 3-2]. That’s why he’s a fantastic signing for them.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs