Five Takeaways from Manchester United vs. Tottenham

It was Unbearable to Watch past Halftime.

For context, I’m writing this during the second half. I can’t watch it anymore. Call me a fair-weather fan, but for my mental and physical health, I had to separate from that disaster. 

I’m hoping this will be cathartic and reduce my rage. I have as much composure right now as Martial. Picking out any positives or positive performances from that match is impossible. 

From a coaching standpoint, this is one of those games that you throw out and forget or use as motivation going forward. A reminder of what can happen if you switch off even for a few minutes. 

Maybe they can take solace in Southhampton’s turnaround last year. After losing 9-0 at home to Leceister City and in the relegation zone, they went on to save their season. They won six and drew four of their next 12 games, while only losing once during the restart.

I never thought, as a United fan, I would turn to Southhampton for inspiration.

Jose Outclassed Ole

How did that defense give up the third-fewest goals last campaign? And so much for a Bailly making a difference.

Arlo White, the commentator for NBCSN, said it best after United conceded the first goal: “Manchester United could not have defended that any worse.” Unfortunately, this ended up being the story of the game with United giving away the first three goals. 

Ole has a lot of questions to answer. This game was not about the lack of transfers. It was about tactics, organization, and mentality. Even before United went down 2-1, they were in shambles defensively. 

United lacked shape and was consistently stretched. Every Tottenham counter looked like a goal. There was no attachment between the front three, middle three, and back four. Tottenham had acres of space to play through. The flanks had huge gaps, especially on the left.

The middle three couldn’t stay connected to the back and forward lines. It was complete disorganization on the pitch. Give any top-level team that kind of space, and this is the result.

Every time United went forward, Tottenham quickly got behind the ball. Aside from the opening 30 seconds, they made it very difficult for United to open up and dissect.

As a unit, the Tottenham players understood their defensive assignments. After winning possession, they broke with intensity and discipline. It was the complete opposite for United.

Wish we Had the Other Harry

What was Harry Maguire thinking with those two missed placed headers on the first goal? Worse was his mental lapse on the second. Stopping the quick pass after giving up the foul is something you learn as a youth.

Harry also gave the ball away deep in the attacking third, resulting in a quick Tottenham counter. Luckily for United, Son uncharacteristically lost control when through on De Gea. 

He isn’t living up to a $10 million transfer fee, let alone $95 million. 

To be fair, Bailey didn’t cover himself in glory either. You would expect more from him having finally broken into the starting 11. With the team on the ropes at 2-1 and just losing a man, he carelessly gave the ball away on the third goal.

Bruno, Pogba, and Donny Together is too Big of a Risk

Now is not the time for a middle three of Pogba, Bruno, and Donny. United has too many issues at the back to risk completely removing a proper defensive midfielder. Having Pogba play the withdrawn role doesn’t suit his style.

He is a creative player by nature and likes to take chances, but with that comes risk. At times, he gets caught on the ball and loses possession. Without a number 6 for cover, this would put even more pressure on a suspect backline. 

United Need More than Sancho

The most talented player United have been rumored with is Sancho, but that doesn’t mean he would make the biggest difference.  

The team needs to desperately strengthen their defensive unit. United need a left-back, center-back, and defensive midfielder. Adding Sancho, although exciting, won’t solve their most pressing concerns.

It might be smarter to take a right-winger on loan for the year, look to Sancho next year, and focus on the defense during this transfer window. 

I don’t want to panic, but after today’s performance, it is hard not to. Let’s hope the boys have more composure and level-headedness than I do. 

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