Tottenham 2-0 Manchester United: Three talking points for a sad trip home
The loss to Tottenham at Wembley was a sign just how far from City Manchester United is. It also indicated the Red Devils best hope for a trophy is the FA Cup.
Many sides in the Champions League final 16 could beat United and Manchester City has regained its 15-point gap in the Prem. United looked too reliant on its front four, yet when given chances that group did not take them. In the big games so far this season, the best performers have been Jesse Lingard and David De Gea. Everyone else has gone missing too often.
United need a centre half to partner Eric Bailly
Eleven. That’s how many seconds it took Spurs to break the deadlock. A defensive line with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones can only strike fear in the manager, not opposing attackers.
Jose Mourinho needs three defenders this summer. My shopping list would include Jonathan Tah, Benjamin Henrichs (both Bayer Leverkusen) and Fabinho. All three players are 24 or under but have international and Champions League experience. Each could be part of a defensive line that could serve for the next seven or eight years.
In Henrichs, United would have a versatile full-back capable of playing on either flank, Fabinho can play as the metronome he is in defensive midfield, but alternatively as a right-back. Meanwhile, Jonathan Tah is a defensive rock in the making, standing at 6’4 and deceptively nimble on his feet.
Paul Pogba lacks the discipline to play in a midfield two
On countless occasions, the Frenchman left Nemanja Matic all too exposed at Wembley. That could be because Mourinho got his tactics wrong in an effort to squeeze Alexis Sanchez into his starting XI but very little has changed from Pogba's sixth league game last season against City. he is both enigmatic and erratic. Defensively he hurts the team. He neither closes down nor intercepts too well. He is too reactive, whereas Matic reads the game and is ahead of the attack.
Mourinho should switch to a 4-3-3 with Pogba at the tip of the midfield three. He plays the eye-of-the needle pass which very few among the current United crop can. Additionally, he has the pace and ability to transition if United want to play a counter-attacking style, which the other logical choice, Juan Mata, lacks.
United’s one dimensional attack
The attacking trio of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez have one trait in abundance: pace. All three are very forward thinking. They relish taking on defenders. Yet none has the ability to find Romelu Lukaku. What the Belgian needs is two speedsters on the wings who can cross and aCAM who can thread the defence. Arsenal has Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere, Spurs have Christian Eriksen. City has Kevin De Bruyne. Pogba would fit the same role for United.
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