Manchester United 0-3 Tottenham: 4 mistakes by Mourinho that cost United the game
Manchester United welcomed Tottenham Hotspurs on Monday Night, well aware of the fact that only a win could lift the mood at Old Trafford. United had started the season brightly with a hard-fought win against Leicester, but they were very poor against Brighton, losing the game 3-2. Spurs, on the other hand, were riding high on a positive start so far, winning both of their opening games.
Jose Mourinho made six changes to the side that lost to Brighton. De Gea continued in goal, but Valencia started his first game of the season, replacing Young at right back. Bailly and Lindelof were replaced by Smalling and Jones. Shaw was the only defender to start all three United games this season so far.
In the middle, Jose welcomed back his trusted Lieutenant Matic and the energetic Ander Herrera, to provide much-needed steel in the middle of the park. Fred and Pogba retained their places, as did Lukaku, but Lingard replaced Mata. Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford started from the bench.
Pochettino made two changes to the team that beat Fulham last weekend. Rose replaced Sanchez, and Dembele replaced Davies.
United showed great intent and determination right from the start of the game and Fred almost scored in the first minute. The rest of the half was intensely competitive, with United coming on top regularly. United should have scored when Lukaku picked up on a horrible back pass from Rose and rounded Lloris, but strangely missed the open goal!
Spurs could have had a penalty of their own when Jones attempted a clumsy challenge on Moura. Ultimately, the game went to the break with the scores at 0-0.
United started the second half strong, but Spurs went ahead with a brilliant Kane header. Eriksen then found acres of space on the right side and set up Moura to double the score within two minutes of the first goal. Mourinho switched back to a back two, put on Sanchez in place of Herrera, put on Fellaini in place of Matic, but there was little difference to United's overall performance.
Moura added a third late in the game, brushing aside Smalling’s challenge like he wasn’t even there. Spurs won the game 3-0 and the defeat put up a lot of questions around Old Trafford.
Amid all the uncertainty surrounding his future now, there were four mistakes by Mourinho in the game that ultimately led to United’s second defeat in two games.
#4 Deploying Herrera as the third CB
While there were talks before the game of Matic starting as the third center back, it was, in fact, Herrera who slid in alongside Jones and Smalling. He started as the right center back, was very clever with his pressing and held his position well, but did get caught out a few times on the Spurs counter.
He also enabled Valencia to play a very attacking role down the right as a wingback. His clever positioning allowed him to intercept Tottenham’s counter and he brilliantly blocked a Dele Alli shot when the Spurs man seemed caught the United defense all over the place.
However, his deployment created a bit of confusion among Smalling and Jones that was evident in the first half as well. Valencia was unsure of when to track back and there were often lots of spaces for Tottenham to exploit.
Even though Herrera was not culpable for the goals, Mourinho’s intentions for putting a center midfielder on the right side of a 3 man defense were not clear.
Even if the Portuguese had some plans, it did not materialize and as such, he would have been better advised to not experiment in such a big game.