"I think there are signs Spurs are playing in the way Villas-Boas wants them to play."

- Sir Alex Ferguson


18/01/2013 13:27, Report by A Bostock, N Coppack

Tottenham will test us

Sir Alex Ferguson says Manchester United's impressive recent history at White Hart Lane will count for nothing on Sunday, with the hosts under new management for this season.

The boss admires the work done so far by his opposite number at Tottenham Hotspur, Andre Villas-Boas. This time last season, the Portuguese coach was under pressure at Chelsea, where he would ultimately lose his job in early March. But he has since settled in well at Spurs, with the pick of his first 22 league results probably being their 3-2 win at United in September - the North London club's only victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League era.

"I think Spurs have done well this season," said Sir Alex at Friday's pre-match press conference. "I've watched quite a few of their games and their form has been consistent. They're in good form and I think they'll challenge for the top four.

"Villas-Boas has Spurs in the way he wants them and I think there are signs they're playing how he wants them to play. That's what a coach wants to do - get his philosophy across. I think they'll challenge for the top four."

United are unbeaten in 11 league visits to White Hart Lane, and the last defeat there came when the Reds had already romped to the title in May 2001. You have to go as far back as October 1999 therefore to find a meaningful loss but while Sir Alex is proud of that run, he won't rely on it come Sunday afternoon.

"We have a fantastic record there," he acknowledged. "It's a stadium that's old-fashioned, football-wise, like Aston Villa and Everton. There's always a good atmosphere and we enjoy playing there. But we can't take anything for granted. We have a hard game on Sunday. We have to perform."

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