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Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur: Humiliation at Old Trafford

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Ole out?

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Oli Scarff - Pool/Getty Images

Manchester United suffered utter humiliation at the hands of former manager José Mourinho on Sunday, whose Tottenham Hotspur side ran out 6-1 winners at Old Trafford. It was an abject performance from United, and particularly Harry Maguire, whose habitually cack-handed defending was directly responsible for at least three goals. If he never pulled on a United shirt again, it would be no great loss.

Serious questions also have to be asked of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, whose side were totally lacking in tactical nous even before Anthony Martial was sent off for violent conduct midway through the first half. Once down to ten, the Reds looked totally lacking in any kind of fighting spirit, gifting their opponents four further goals before the final whistle. It was a damning indictment of Solskjær’s preparation, and United should seriously be looking at lining up Mauricio Pochettino as his replacement.

Despite their eventual embarrassment, United could hardly have made a better start. Within 90 seconds they were a goal up, with Bruno Fernandes converting from the penalty spot after Martial was felled by Davinson Sánchez.

It took just two minutes for things to head south, with Maguire inexplicably tugging Luke Shaw down as the United defenders failed to deal with a long throw into the penalty area. Tanguy Ndombele took full advantage of the chaos, walloping a powerful shot home with help from a Maguire deflection.

Within three minutes, Spurs had completed the turnaround. Once again Maguire was at fault, fouling Harry Kane, and then failing to stop him angling a quick free-kick in behind United’s misshapen back line. Son Heung-min received the ball, darted between Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw, and chipped a fine finish inside David de Gea’s far post.

United struggled to gain a foothold, and Spurs started to lay siege to their hosts’ goal. De Gea and Bailly both made important blocks to keep United’s deficit at one goal, but it was all undone when Anthony Martial raised his hand to Erik Lamela’s face just short of the half-hour, and was sent for an early bath.

It’s hard to legislate for moments of ill discipline, but United’s immediate tactical meltdown was entirely on Solskjær. Down to ten, United looked entirely clueless, and any semblance of shape or system went out of the window. Within moments Eric Bailly had played a hospital pass to Nemanja Matić, who was caught deep in possession, allowing Son to square for Harry Kane, who doubled Spurs’ lead.

Within a few minutes, the visitors netted a fourth. Luke Shaw completely vacated his spot at left-back, forcing Maguire to come across to cover. He could only deflect Serge Aurier’s cross into the area, where a grateful Son arrived to tap home at the near post. It was all too easy for Spurs, with United leaving vast swathes of space across the field.

Solskjær looked to shore things up at the interval, introducing Fred and Scott McTominay for Matić and Bruno Fernandes. However, not even the beefed-up midfield prevented Spurs from netting again within minutes, when Shaw was dragged too narrow and allowed Aurier to ghost into the penalty area, where he drove inside the far post for five.

Kane sealed his brace — and Spurs’ sixth — with just over ten minutes left, driving a penalty past de Gea after Paul Pogba sent Ben Davies tumbling in the box. Spurs ran down the remaining minutes in United’s half, with the Reds spending most of the time chasing shadows. It’s difficult to play a man down, but United made it look nigh-on impossible. It’s not all his fault, but Solskjær will be very lucky indeed to survive this.