Were Manchester United that good or was it Tottenham Hotspur that were that bad? That is an important question after the former’s 3-0 victory over the latter in North London yesterday.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed to a 3-5-2 formation that looked more solid and compact.
Spurs did not get a single shot on target against the Red Devils in the entire match, which, no matter how well an away team plays, must speak to the struggles of the home side at any level.
Would the real Harry Kane go 90 minutes without a shot on target?
How lucky Solskjaer was that when on the brink of dismissal, he was able to take his team to face another manager who is in a similar position.
And let’s face it, Spurs were awful. Booed off the pitch, it is hard to see how Espirito Santo can keep his job much longer.
As for Solskjaer, stiffer tests will come up this week against Atalanta and Manchester City, although he may just have got lucky there as well. Atalanta dropped points at home to Lazio yesterday in a gruelling and energy-sapping game and City must be rattled after their shock 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Two wins will probably see the great Solskini escape from another impossible situation.
In fairness, no matter how poor Spurs were, United did play better in the 3-5-2. There were two important keys to this; the extra centre back took pressure off Scott McTominay and Fred in terms of defensive duties and the two up front allowed Bruno Fernandes to drop a little deeper and take pressure off the same pair to produce offensively.
The duo received immense praise for their performances after the game on social media, with comments such as ‘awesome performances’ being typical, but it could be argued that a lot was sacrificed to help them cope.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was also praised on social media for his performance at wing back, but how he will fare in that role against better opposition remains to be seen.
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There has been a lot of post-match discussion in the press about whether Solskjaer can or should make this 3-5-2 his default formation from here on in. For one thing, he has assembled a squad with four or five top class wingers who would struggle for game time.
However, perhaps an equally important question is whether this individual result against a side with its own struggles has hidden the fact that a number of players in the United side are not good enough at the moment and have needed a formation change to compensate for their frailties.