It's been a pretty familiar situation over the year: Manchester United are behind with ten minutes to play, and the opposition can barely get outside their own area. It resembles a training ground exercise more than a real game of football, attack vs defence, and it's usually the attack that wins it.
When United were playing badly under David Moyes, that situation never seemed to materialise - the late charges and ever-increasing pressure would never occur, and teams would escape with a narrow win. Today, Spurs were in complete retreat after their second goal, but defence won out.
Emmanuel Adebayor had put the visitors ahead with a fine finish, despite United dominating the early stages. United looked likely to come back, but then Christian Eriksen added a second to give Spurs a two-goal lead. Danny Welbeck struck back almost immediately after collecting Januzaj's through-ball and completing a classy finish, but there was no way through thereafter.
Javier Hernandez had chances, but wasted them with poor touches. Nemanja Vidic saw three headers narrowly miss the target or cleared off the line. Antonio Valencia couldn't find anyone with his crosses. Patrice Evra failed to be an attacking influence. Shinji Kagawa was guilty of some woeful delivery. United finished the game with a Rooney-Kagawa midfield two, which made no difference since Spurs had completely ceded control of the centre ground. Today was the first time we could say in such a situation that we threw everything at it and didn't have enough.
David Moyes has made some bold substitutions lately and they've worked. Even the insanity of today was predictable - not to toot my own horn, but after United went behind I correctly predicted the eleven that would finish the game.
There is no simple answer to today other than that we just aren't good enough. The midfield problem was made irrelevant by Spurs' determination to do nothing but defend with at least fifteen minutes remaining, and we still couldn't score. Our malaise has reached far beyond that, and spread onto the wings, and even into the fullback positions. The squad is, pure and simple, a complete mess.
If David Moyes is to blame for any of this, it's for not taking a bigger step in demanding more of a renovation in the summer. We decided to give too many ineffective players a new chance under the new man, and this is the price we've paid for it. Still being unable to do anything other than aimlessly charge down the wings even though our wide players are increasingly terrible. Our limitations today ended up with Michael Dawson looking like Franco Baresi. For some things there really can be no excuses.