AT SIXES AND SEVENS
LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer labelled Manchester United’s humiliating 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham on Sunday as the worst feeling in 15 years at the club as a player, coach and manager.
Tottenham cashed in on Anthony Martial’s first-half red card to inflict United’s joint-worst loss in the Premier League era – mirroring their 2011 defeat by Manchester City – as Jose Mourinho enjoyed a dream return to Old Trafford.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane scored twice as Spurs opened up a disorganised United defence at will even before Martial was harshly punished for an off-the-ball clash with Erik Lamela. Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier were also on target for Spurs.
“It’s a horrible feeling, the worst day I’ve had as a Manchester United manager and player,” said Solskjaer after United lost their opening two home league games for the first time in 34 seasons.
“It’s nowhere near good enough. I hold my hands up. It’s my decision to pick the team I did.”
Mourinho’s successor dropped Victor Lindelof in favour of Eric Bailly, but the Ivorian was one of the biggest culprits for the rout and was lucky to stay on the field for a couple of petulant kicks on Kane.
The back four Solskjaer started cost £195 million (S$344.1 million), including Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender at £80 million. Yet the England centre-back twice failed to clear, as did Luke Shaw, leading to Ndombele’s equaliser. It was Ndombele’s first league goal in over a year, after Bruno Fernandes put the hosts in front from the spot.
Maguire then fouled Kane before allowing the striker to take a quick free-kick while Aaron Wan-Bissaka was also caught napping, and Son was through for their second.
Solskjaer introduced holding midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred at half-time in a bid to stem the tide, but United kept getting cut open.
Mourinho, who was sacked as United boss in December 2018, revelled in what he described as a historic day for Tottenham.
“It is history for Tottenham, history for my boys and I cannot deny it is also history for me,” said the Portuguese. “Some people can say you play against 10 men for a long time which is true, but for me it is also true that 11 v 11 we were playing extremely well. We were creating huge problems, we were winning 2-1 and they could not find solutions to control us.”
If United’s results do not improve, the club could swoop for a former Tottenham manager. Mauricio Pochettino remains without a club since he was sacked by Spurs a year ago just months after leading them to a first Champions League final.
The chastening defeat comes at the end of another difficult transfer window for United, who have prioritised attacking targets like Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho over reinforcements at the back.
Only newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion (13), who played a game more, have conceded more goals than United (11) this season.
Former United defender Patrice Evra said the Red Devils are “an embarrassment”. “I don’t promote violence but many people need a good slap at this club right now,” added the Sky Sports pundit.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS