You know that moment when you wake up and for a split second you have forgotten that you are a Tottenham supporter and that you have just lost to Man.Utd. at home, after scoring in the first minute with the referee sending Scholes off for the last half hour? You are very briefly content, not quite awake, still top of the league, not just unbeaten but with a 100% record. Well the split second is over and I am now fully awake.
Now such a performance as that cannot be portrayed as good and yet I am disappointed rather than depressed and searching for positives rather than looking for scapegoats, and there are one or two.
That accident of history, geography and family background that shaped my Spurs destiny cannot be denied and whatever happened on Saturday has to be taken in the round and on the chin.
Firstly they are and were the better team: perhaps not individually but collectively they played well and Ferguson responded more effectively to the changing fortunes of the game and got his tactics right. Berbatov was at his Berbatovian best and Rooney ran all the afternoon, mostly from offside positions fortunately, and got his just reward on the counter attack. Some of this is hindsight and after 1 minute you might have been gasping at the managerial genius of Harry, but over the next 89 minutes the plot unravelled and we were found wanting.
But positives first. I would rather lose to Man.Utd. than Portsmouth, Hull, Wolves or whoever. Man.City and Aston Villa are the teams to beat this year, and at the moment, Sunderland but they are virtually a Spurs eleven so their joy is our joy. Those people, including me, who were dreaming of going through the season unbeaten can now relax and settle down for the long haul. The team that played yesterday and the way that they played will beat most sides in the Premiership and that will ensure progress even if we don't do as well this year against the Top Four, although we have already beaten Liverpool.
Individual performances were good: only Keane struggled, playing out of position, Defoe after the first minute was virtually invisible, swallowed up by the United back four. Crouch did very well, doing what he does, against the most 'uncompromising' centre half in the Premiership and the fact that it was, in the end, tactically inept was not his fault. Huddlestone was good again especially for the first twenty minutes, although he and Palacios didn't get close enough to Scholes and Giggs to stop them playing.
The big plus was for me was Jenas who returned confidently, ran the midfield for the first part of the second half with intelligent movement and some good passing and was unlucky not to score. Kranjcar briefly showed that he might be more of a replacement for Modric than Keane which makes me wonder why he didn't start there in the first place.
And so to my favourite scapegoat, our saviour Harry. If things are not perfect they can be improved. Good enough is not good enough. If loyalty can be a fault then he has it in spades. Keane was out of sorts and out of position. He should have been moved or removed. Against ten men every coaching manual will emphasise keeping the ball, making the opposition work and making the extra man count. 50/50 long balls towards Crouch does not work in this situation and Pavlyuchenko might have been used to good effect with either Crouch or Defoe. We threw away what advantage we had.
And yet we're five matches in, still in the top four, all the positives from the previous four matches apply and we lost a game to a team that will probably win the league. Harry needs to break his fixation with Keane and Crouch; give Pavlyuchenko and perhaps Dos Santos a chance; we've got Bale, Woodgate,Dawson, Gomes and Modric to return; and we're playing good football.
I'll just have another snooze and when I wake up I might just get that brief second of bliss again.