Ryan Mason pleased with Tottenham’s fightback in draw with Manchester United
Ryan Mason promised Tottenham’s players will stick together between now and the end of the season after they staged an impressive second-half comeback to draw with Manchester United.
Spurs were coming off the back of a 6-1 drubbing away to Newcastle on Sunday and looked in trouble again when Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford fired United into a 2-0 half-time lead.
But Mason rallied his players at the break and they hit back strongly in the second half, goals from Pedro Porro and Son Heung-min rescuing the result and reminding home fans of their team’s powers of recovery after the debacle on Tyneside.
That result led to the sacking of interim coach Cristian Stellini by Daniel Levy, and the Tottenham chairman was the target of Spurs fans’ anger in the first half when it looked like their team would be overrun.
Mason, who has been installed until the end of the season whilst Levy searches for a permanent successor to Antonio Conte, said he was proud of his players for their fight and the way they went at United with the Newcastle result fresh in their minds.
“It’s been difficult after Sunday because the manner in which we lost wasn’t nice for anyone to be involved with,” said Mason. “But the most important thing now until the end of the season will always be to stick together as a team.
“Football – small details can change games, change results but ultimately the most important thing is to be together. And to everyone – the fans, the outside world looking in, they’ll see a team that’s solid and united together. And when you are that you have a chance of success.
“(We have) big character, big personalities, stuck together, kept believing and acted as a team throughout the whole game. That pleases me after what happened at the weekend because we probably didn’t have that as a group.
“And off the back of how the first half went in terms of the scoreline, to go out at half-time and stick together, fight for each other and really got our fans involved, I thought they helped us massively, and it’s pleasing.
“It proves a lot to me what I already thought about this group but to see that on to the pitch is a good feeling.”
Though admirable, the result did little to revive Spurs’ rapidly diminishing hopes of catching United in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
The gap to Erik ten Hag’s side in fourth stands at six points with Tottenham having played two games more.
Mason was asked whether at 2-2 he was tempted to go after the win that would have gone some of the way towards reeling in United and breathing life into the top-four scramble.
“We invested so much energy into getting that scoreline at 2-2,” he said. “It felt like we were almost acting a little emotionally to try and get that third, and sometimes that’s great but at the same time I felt there were a couple of moments when we looked a bit leggy, a bit open unnecessarily.
“So we changed it a little bit – still try and win the game but at the same time recognise the game and moment we were in.
“I felt once we had got the second goal the lads had sort of invested so much energy into it that we went a little bit flat and they took a little bit of control of the game without really creating anything.
“To come off 2-2 off the back of going in 2-0 down at half-time is a positive.”
Ten Hag reflected on a game in which, after a solid first half in which they dominated Spurs and were clinical with their chances, control of the match ultimately got away from them once they lost their dominance of the ball after the break.
“After half-time, there was a difference,” said Ten Hag. “We lost the control. We were not ball-secure. Then you have to go into the fight.
“When you lose your battles, you don’t block the crosses, when you don’t squeeze out, you don’t block shots, you concede goals and that’s what happened.
“Finally you have to be satisfied and take that point.”