Jose Mourinho releases the handbrake vs Tottenham but has it come too late?
As the dust settles on Jose Mourinho's biggest ever home defeat in his illustrious career, the fact that his team were better going forward has gone under the radar. The attacking play in the first half was full of verve and purpose and should possibly lay the foundation for things to come.
However, for all the high pressing and quick passing, United's defence let them down (again) in the 2nd half.
The usual post-mortem that has followed the defeat claimed that Mourinho still has the backing of his board. However, will Mourinho go back to exercising caution or will we throw caution to the wind?
The three positives from United's performance vs Spurs are:
#1 Fred was excellent in a box-to-box role
Fred's signing was supposed to free Paul Pogba to venture further forward, but the Brazilian midfielder found himself in really advanced areas in an all-action display.
He almost capped his display with a well-taken goal in the first half, his curling effort went wide after he wriggled himself free inside the Spurs box. He offers something different in United's engine room and should nail down a spot in the starting 11 with ease if he continues to perform this way.
#2 Jesse Lingard promises to get better
Jesse Lingard continued from where he had left off last season. His intensity and work rate are critical when United press higher up the pitch. It resulted in Spurs misplacing passes more often than not in a first half which United totally dominated. The English attacker also had a few efforts on goal with one such attempt flying over the bar.
#3 Luke Shaw continues his excellent form:
Luke Shaw is perhaps Manchester United's best player so far this season. The left-back did nothing to undo his excellent start to the campaign. If he steers clear of injuries, United's faith in him will be repaid manifold as he has the potential to make the left-back spot his own for years to come.
In the two defeats, Manchester United have failed to score when presented with the first clear-cut opening in the game. Romelu Lukaku needs to shoulder the blame for missing two gilt-edged chances - one against Brighton where he dragged his shot wide after Pogba sent him through while he missed the open goal against Spurs.
Had United scored on both occasions, the momentum would have swung their way. And ironically, they were left chasing the game on both occasions thereafter.
Strategically and tactically, Mourinho has proved he can still surprise his opponent. But with a wobbly defence which looks a shadow of itself from last season, it seems United's manager has a real task on his hands.
The release of the handbrake against Tottenham may be temporary until the defensive mess is sorted. But, they say, attack is the best form of defence, so, will Mourinho embrace this philosophy and ensure an attaching masterclass from here on?
For the neutral fan, the next few weeks can be mouthwatering considering the real action could take place both on the pitch and off it at Manchester United. A United fan would dearly want to believe this is a temporary blip and that things will turn around for better soon.