Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane was unable to provide the attacking impetus as Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford found his way into the box and helped strike partner Romelu Lukaku open the scoring.
Man United have made a good start to the Premier League, but are in danger of being caught up in an early season top six scrap. Nuno’s side face Tottenham on Saturday, who recently lost their first league game 4-0 against Liverpool.It was a curious sight to see Maurizio Sarri’s side lose against Manchester United on Saturday evening. As the game reached its conclusion, it seemed like Tottenham Hotspur were about to pull off an upset at Old Trafford… But Ronaldo had other ideas. Topic:
Harry Kane is struggling for Tottenham Hotspur, but Ronaldo has provided the team with a much needed win in their battle to stay above Manchester United.
LONDON, United Kingdom — After Manchester United’s 3-0 triumph against Tottenham Hotspur, the managers had a brief handshake, but at that time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had already handed the reins to Nuno Espirito Santo as the Premier League’s beleaguered manager.
Thousands of Tottenham fans had already left, but those who remained mainly did so to boo Nuno off the pitch as his opposite number strode across the turf to a section of United supporters who had been singing Solskjaer’s name for the majority of the second half as their club ended a difficult week with a much-needed win.
Spurs fans chose a more caustic repertory, yelling “you don’t know what you’re doing” at Nuno for his first substitution of the game, when Lucas Moura was replaced by Steven Bergwijn with the score at 1-0, to demanding for club chairman Daniel Levy to resign.
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Solskjaer’s job is far from secure, and he has a difficult Champions League trip to Atalanta as well as the Manchester derby next weekend, but his team’s performance was a reaction to recent events at Old Trafford, which have seen rival storylines develop.
On the one hand, there has been a sense that United’s players and supporters are losing trust in their under-fire manager, while Solskjaer himself replied that the team was working hard on the training field to right the ship after last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool.
Given the outcome of the game, with United ending a four-game Premier League winless streak and putting in their most complete performance of the season, the 48-year-old was not about to miss an opportunity to question some of the coverage, praising “brilliant” fans and criticizing those who wanted to “portray a different story,” as he put it.
This performance confirmed Solskjaer’s belief that his squad is still behind him, and his players executed a game plan that included only two changes from the starting lineup against Liverpool, but included a three-man defense, in which Raphael Varane made a significant difference on his return from a groin injury.
Solskjaer has used three at the back in the past, but whether this is a model for the future or a last-ditch effort to rally a demoralized squad remains to be seen. One conclusion that is impossible to avoid is that the manager’s immediate future will be determined by the success — or failure — of re-signing Ronaldo.
Even with his superb individual skill, the 36-year-deployment old’s as a lone centre-forward has often hampered United’s offensive rhythm, but here he was partnered up front with Edinson Cavani, whose presence offered United greater dynamism with and without the ball.
To relieve the burden on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Cristiano Ronaldo, left, scored one and set up another. Getty
The front line has a combined age of 70, yet between them, Ronaldo and Cavani have scored over 1200 goals in their careers, and the fact that they both added to their tally at Tottenham highlighted their team’s performance and established the game as a fight with a third of the game remaining. It was something that had been hinted at over the week, according to Solskjaer.
“Edinson Cavani’s training session on Tuesday morning was arguably the greatest I’ve seen by an individual since I’ve been here,” remarked Solskjaer. “He was the line’s leader, setting a good example for everyone on how to change the attitude, and the two of them were informed early on that they would play up front as a two. They’ve been as close as two peas in a pod, and it’s worked.”
United took the lead six minutes before halftime when Bruno Fernandes found Ronaldo with a fantastic angled ball after Cristian Romero’s goal was disallowed for offside and Son Heung-Min fired over from close range. The Portuguese gambled that Ben Davies wouldn’t be able to extend to intercept, then unleashed a powerful right-foot volley into the far corner.
After 64 minutes, Ronaldo sent a brilliant through pass for Cavani, who hoisted a silky shot over Hugo Lloris and into the goal. Marcus Rashford, who came in for Ronaldo, scored a late third as he raced through a breach in the Spurs defense to keep up his impressive form after returning from shoulder surgery.
Ronaldo’s departure followed a lengthy explanation from Solskjaer as to why he was benched; “OK, OK,” Ronaldo answered as he took his position on the bench. He had averted more protest or apathy that would have been another damage to Solskjaer’s credentials and added cutting edge to a professional performance in a less spectacular manner than his Champions League wins over Villarreal and Atalanta.
In comparison, consider Harry Kane. While Ronaldo may be driven by the prospect of returning to his previous club, Kane, who was refused a transfer to Manchester City in the summer, continues to appear like he would rather be someplace else. He only blocked one shot, and his once-ruthless link-up with Son was almost non-existent.
Spurs’ problems, on the other hand, are systemic and extend well beyond their big two. For the first time in a home league game since December 2013, they failed to register a single shot on target, and it has been two hours and 16 minutes since they forced an opposition goalkeeper to make a save.
That indicates a manager who has yet to develop a cohesive style of play, an unpleasant stasis that is a far cry from the proactive Mauricio Pochettino era, in which the club continues to exist. The hosts were so lethargic that a battered United team was able to settle into the game, regain confidence, and finally win comfortably.
Both Solskjaer and Nuno want to move their teams away from Jose Mourinho’s regressive approach. Due to COVID-19 constraints, Tottenham’s last permanent manager did not suffer the same fan backlash for what they perceived as a betrayal of the club’s aggressive tradition; Nuno, on the other hand, can be under no such illusions.
“I’m just thinking about the next training session since there are no words that can fix this,” Nuno said. “The supporters’ booing and displeasure are justified. They will boo if they don’t see the squad they expect — and I honestly believe we are better than we showed today. It is up to us to influence the tone of the conversation.”
Solskjaer was on his way to boarding the squad bus by then, having interrupted his media responsibilities earlier to sign autographs, accompanied by shouts from the few United supporters still there. It’s amazing how fast things can change.
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