Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

Man United vs Tottenham

Sunday’s marquee Premier League game took place a short time ago.

The clash pitted Manchester United against Tottenham, sides who will no doubt be desperate to secure a Champions League berth come the end of the campaign.

Spurs headed into the tie in decent form, having secured a spot in the Europa League group stages and League Cup quarter-finals over the last few days.

United, on the other hand, have had something of a shaky start to 2020/21.

The Red Devils have beaten Brighton twice in the last week, but in both ties, the Manchester powerhouse didn’t look anywhere near their best.

And if they wanted to see off Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, you would imagine they would have had to do produce a much better display at Old Trafford.

When all was said and done in Manchester though, that is absolutely the opposite of what happened, with United arguably putting on one of their worst displays for some time.

First-half chaos

With less than four minutes of the clash gone, some absolutely horrendous defending saw Man United and Spurs gifted a goal each.

First up, Davinson Sanchez’s schoolboy tackling handed the Red Devils yet another penalty.

And though you can argue that Man United have been fairly lucky with penalties of late, there was no doubting this one was most certainly deserved.

Bruno Fernandes stepped up to convert said spot-kick in his usually calm fashion.

However, the home side’s lead was short-lived, with a revitalised Tanguy Ndombele drawing Spurs level just moments later.

This time it would be Harry Maguire and Eric Baily at fault, with the United captain’s poor heading, and decision to pull down his own teammate, eventually leading to the Frenchman firing past David de Gea.

Maguire’s defensive prowess was called into question once again just a few minutes later. The Englishman brought down Harry Kane near the half-way line. The United stopper was then not alert in the moments after the foul, allowing Kane to take a quick free-kick and play in Heung-Min Son.

The South Korean was then able to escape the pursuing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw before coolly slotting past de Gea.

The previously frantic clash then eventually calmed down, with United seeming to gain the edge in the tie.

Mason Greenwood forced a solid save out of Hugo Lloris shortly after the 20-minute mark.

However, as has become the norm under Mourinho, Spurs would counter-attack well shortly after Greenwood’s chance. But Son, who was through on goal, was let down by a heavy touch which guided the ball straight into the path of de Gea. The Spaniard then punched away an effort from Serge Aurier after more good play from Harry Kane.

And with Spurs gaining a foothold back in the tie, United were handed a further blow when Anthony Martial was shown a straight red card for violent conduct on Erik Lamela.

Kane then pilled on Man United’s misery, capitalising on yet more awful defending from United’s centre-backs to make it 3-1 and all but put the result beyond doubt.

This was followed by Son adding his second of the day with just 36 minutes on the clock. And you will no doubt be shocked to hear that Manchester United were once again defensively woeful for the South Korean’s second.

Maguire, the slowest player on the pitch, somehow ended up at left-back with Shaw in the box not marking anyone. Bailly and Nemanja Matic also failed to pick up the goalscorer.

The first 45 drew to a close with Spurs 4-1 up and Man United looking completely bereft of any sort of game plan, team cohesion or defensive quality.

Solskjaer then made a double change at the break, bringing on Fred and Scott McTominay for Bruno Fernandes and Matic.

The changes had little effect though, with Aurier adding a 5th for the Lilywhites just five minutes into the second half.

Paul Pogba then fouled Ben Davies with 13 minutes of normal time remaining, allowing Kane to step up and make it six from the spot, and that is how the tie would finish.

A defensive mess

For many, it has been quite clear for some time that one area in which Man United have needed to strengthen is at centre-back.

Maguire was a decent buy for the club, but outside of the Englishman, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. have had very little quality to call upon at centre-half.

Victor Lindelof had long stood as Maguire’s main partner in United’s backline.

But some solid displays from Bailly of late saw the Ivorian handed the chance to impress on the big stage on Sunday.

And though Bailly arguably had the better display out of him and Maguire, what was clear was that none of United’s centre-backs are truly up to scratch.

Perhaps Maguire could thrive alongside a more dominant, pacey partner. But with Lindelof or Baily alongside him, it is evident that United’s backline is simply not good enough to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

And with less than 48 hours remaining of the current window, it doesn’t actually look like the Red Devils will be brining in a fresh stopper this window.

So, with only Maguire, Lindelof and Bailly to call upon, Man United fans must be dreading the next few months of the season as if they continue to put on displays like they did on Sunday, it is hard to even see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finishing in the top four this term.

Obviously, a decent amount of blame should be put on the players for Sunday’s defeat. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should also no doubt begin to shoulder his share of the blame for United’s poor start to the season.

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