Coming to the match against Tottenham Hotspur, there were many questions on how Manchester United would rebound after one of their worst loses in club history. In a match that has been said to be the first of Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s three-match interview for his job, he and the club came into North London in desperate need of three points.
Looking to change things up and Solskjær unveiled a 5-2-1-2 formation formation with an attacking partnership that had a combined age of 70 years old, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo. The return of Raphaël Varane could not have emerged at a better time as the back line has been exposed since he has been out and much of the focus of scrutiny after allowing 12 goals in the last 3 matches.
Story of the game
The key to United’s victory was the strength and stability displayed by the men at the back. The likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf, Raphaël Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Luke Shaw completely shutdown any sense of a Tottenham attack. Just the second clean sheet in the last 22 matches with zero shots on goal, this new look lineup bottled up any real chance Tottenham could string together, with their best chance be thwarted by a magnificent sliding tackle chase down by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Bruno Fernandes provided creative looks from the midfield and was the catalyst for both early Manchester United goals. The Ronaldo goal in the 38th minute displayed the class of Manchester’s Portuguese duo, with Fernandes dropping the ball right on Ronaldo’s boot and finished with a masterful volley.Embed from Getty Images
An extra-man in the back created acres of space for the Manchester attack and midfield, best demonstrated by the Cavani goal in the second half. A brilliant steal by Fernandes created a 3 on 3 counterattack that saw precise passing before a Ronaldo through ball to Cavani that snuck past the keeper. Later that half, Marcus Rashford was able to take full advantage of the space given by a lazy Tottenham defense to carve through defenders to score, providing the dagger and an early exit for many Spur fans after just 15 minutes into being subbed on.
This new look lineup could provide an opportunity for the club going forward and a new lease on life for Solskjær at the helm.
While it was crucial for Solskjær and the squad to have an emphatic victory the road ahead does not get any easier for the Devils. Manchester United are set to face Atalanta in the midweek match on Tuesday and take City in the Manchester Derby next weekend.
Manchester United was forced to score three goals in the second half to secure three points against Atalanta in their first match at Old Trafford. Atalanta are 5th in the Series A table, have found mixed results in their recent matches, but will be looking to reclaim the top spot in the group this week.
The match against Manchester City could be Solskjær’s last chance to convince Manchester United ownership and fans that he is the man for the job. City, who dropped points earlier today against Crystal Palace, will be hungry to bounce back against their crosstown rival. It is imperative for Solskjær to have his club ready or it will likely open the door for those rumored to be in line to replace him as the United boss.