The match was dubbed “El Sackico” in the football media because of the narrative that has swirled around both Tottenham Hotspur’s Nuno Espirito Santo and Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But while Spurs had an opportunity to jump improbably into the top four, instead they were played off the park by United, falling 3-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a match where they rarely looked competitive.
United got a very nice goal from Cristiano Ronaldo right at the cusp of halftime, then second half strikes from Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford to put the match well beyond any doubt. Spurs, meanwhile, had zero shots on target.
Nuno had a couple of surprises in the starting lineup with Ben Davies replacing Sergio Reguilon, and Giovani Lo Celso starting in place of Tanguy Ndombele. Otherwise, it was Tottenham’s regular starting lineup.
Here are my reactions from this match.
- That was awful. Just listless, lifeless football... AGAIN. No attacking plan, no style, no urgency. This is midtable stuff.
- I questioned the choice to start Ben Davies over Sergio Reguilon and he didn’t do much to assuage my fears. The Ronaldo goal was... well, whatever, Ronaldo’s done stuff like that to defenders a lot better than Ben Davies. However, then Davies got in Romero’s way on a corner that might have prevented a goal. And then Davies played Rashford on for United’s third. I just don’t get it. He was so bad and I can’t see what performance precipitated his starting over Reggie, unless there was an undisclosed injury.
- Interesting tactical battle with Ole playing a back three and giving Spurs more time on the ball in midfield. Nunoball meant we didn’t see a whole lot of chances created from that extra time, though — none (obviously) in possession and precious few on the counter.
- Spurs giving up a goal off of a literal sideways pass between Hojbjerg and Skipp somehow feels appropriate.
- I want to repeat this: Tottenham had zero shots on target today. Let that sink in a second.
- Romero and Royal were both solid on the day. Thin gruel, but it deserves saying.
- Nuno actually made early subs in this match, but they were still somewhat puzzling. I can squint and accept a Bergwijn-to-Lucas sub, even if it’s uninspiring. But Ndombele and Dele were non-factors, probably because the match was already out of reach by the time they came in.
- There were reports that Nuno’s job is not currently in jeopardy, because there’s recognition that this is the start of a project. But man, I don’t see how he CAN’T be in trouble. There’s not even any indication that they’re working towards something. It’s just grim, boring football with no surcease.
- Well, at least we saved Ole’s job. The rest of the top six will thank us for it, I guess.