- Heading into their match on six and three points respectively, Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho continue to respond to their side’s summer transfer inactivity in different ways. For Jose Mourinho, it is a signal that United chief executive Ed Woodward is setting him up for failure. For Mauricio Pochettino, it is a sign of team cohesion and progress informed by his view that all events in life are connected by an underlying energy.
- Mourinho refused to criticize individual players following United’s 3-2 loss against Brighton last weekend. Instead, it was Paul Pogba who did his manager’s deed by stating the obvious that United lacked their opponent’s energy and didn’t deserve to win. Every United loss under Mourinho inevitably leads to discussions ranging from how interested he is in continuing to manage this current side to who blinks first between he and Woodward.
- Pochettino rushed to Mourinho’s defense, citing the Portuguese manager as one of his biggest inspirations. In a more cynical world, that peace offering could be seen as a pre-match mind game to soften up the already on-edge Mourinho.
- While Mourinho didn’t verbally articulate his disappointment with individual performances in their Brighton loss, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata didn’t even make the bench for this match.
- Fred started off with a quick attack into Tottenham territory 16 seconds into the match. Playing in front of their home crowd, United are putting on early pressure as Mourinho excitedly celebrates on the touchline.
- In response, Tottenham are relying on counter attacking long balls to Lucas Moura. The 26 year old Brazilian has struggled with consistency since coming over from PSG last winter.
- Ander Herrera’s positioning as the right center back alongside Chris Smalling and Phil Jones is noted by the commentary as potentially another public shot at Woodward’s lack of center back reinforcement over the summer.
- Romelu Lukaku had the best chance of the match thus far and missed an open net. For all of their structural deficiencies, Mourinho needs Lukaku especially to come up with individual goals to turn the momentum towards a positive United side.
- On the other end, Christian Eriksen has been invisible this first half.
- Luke Shaw and Pogba have been especially aggressive moving forward. With his attacking energy, Shaw may be the best United player through their opening three matches.
- Tottenham’s diagonal passes are giving Herrera issues as expected, with Dele Alli sneaking in behind and forcing the Spaniard into a last ditch tackle.
- The biggest tactical adjustment Tottenham made in the second half was in moving Eriksen over to the right side, attacking the space Shaw left behind as he moves forward.
- Eriksen finding space on the right side caused two goals in the opening seven minutes of the second half. He won the initial corner for Harry Kane’s header, while directly assisting Moura’s goal two minutes later.
- With the focus on Kane’s inability to score in August, it’s only right that he respond with his second goal of the opening match.
- Down 2-0 and down to his last sub, Mourinho subs on Marouane Fellaini for Nemanja Matic as Marcus Rashford sits on the bench. We are at a level where each of Mourinho’s tactical decision can also be interpreted as a slight against Woodward. But then again, Roberto Martinez subbed on Felliani down 2-0 against Japan in the World Cup round of 16 and came back and won 3-2.
- United are again sloppy with their passing inside their own half with Victor Lindelof’s wayward passing saved by the 1-on-1 brilliance of De Gea. It is one thing to fail in summer transfer signings, another in not being able to complete basic tasks in staying tidy in possession.
- There is also a lack of variety in the attacking end from United as they chase the match by sending crosses into Lukaku and Fellaini. Mata would have obviously helped pick apart a bunkering defense, except for the whole part about Mourinho partially blaming him for the loss against Brighton.
- As impressive as Moura’s third goal was in closing out the match, his run highlighted another defensive error from Smalling. Maybe Mourinho has a point in all of this. Critics will point to his spending on Lindelof as a sign of the manager getting backed, but not having quality center backs has tangible, negative results that play out on the league table. The second half especially highlights the importance of the position in both getting caught out by clever runs and a lack of calm in possession when a team is under pressure.
- Despite the 3-0 loss at home, surely there is a quality team within the United roster to be unlocked. Mourinho applauds the home fans, maintaining his public support.
- In what may be his most memorable post-match press conference out of many options, Mourinho reminds us that he’s won three domestic trophies, more than the other 19 managers combined. Of course, Mourinho would know exactly how many trophies rival managers have won compared to himself.
- Meanwhile, Pochettino could only reiterate his respect for Mourinho afterwards in saying that United might have won the tactical battle but he would have to rewatch the match.
- The rumors of Zinedine Zidane taking over United will only grow from here.
Premier League Match Abstract: Spurs 3, United 0