An passive 25 mins was broken as shocking United defending allowed Bergwijn to waltz through and De Gea flapped it into the net. The Red Devils were rattled for the rest of the half and ran back into the changing room with their tails between their legs. The second half was Spurs sinking back further and further then Pogba sprinkled a bit of magic to gain a point as Bruno tucked away the penalty the Frenchman won
Much of the talk was of how Bruno and Pogba would provide the much needed impetus in midfield to break the lines and deep blocks with their imaginative passes. In the end, only the former started with Fred and McTominay providing the platform in the midfield. It was earmarked by sideways sloppy passing, hiding from the ball when the CBs had it and empty gaps in the middle of the park from the lack of discipline. It was a throwback to the biggest problem that curtailed us, where a deep block was our kryptonite. McTominay was constantly dropping deep into a RCB position, emptying the midfield of its options, making it so Bruno would either have to drop deep and lose the connection to the centre forward or Fred would be left on an island on his own. On occasion, Maguire would drive into the space but it would just leave us in the same position if McTominay stayed in that position. The introduction of Pogba for Fred changed the game as you could finally see a player that was able to play two touch, find the attackers in space with quick transitions and then the feet he showed for the penalty was exactly what has been missed all these months. The connection of the Frenchman and Bruno Fernandes was instant. The latter immediately came more alive with the substitutions and tucked his penalty away with aplomb, a noticeable lack of the little skip that has become his trademark.
Many understood the decision to stick by the players who had played well pre lockdown, contributing to the 11 game unbeaten run. However, it was something that was too risk averse. Spurs were always gonna sit back and constrict space in behind so the decision to persist with James was quite strange. Greenwood’s contribution when he came on just went further to prove that doing this was even stranger. McTominay and Fred, as discussed above, was not a conducive to break down a deep team. Forget Pogba, Matic added more verve with his presence coming onto the pitch so his lack of inclusion was even weirder. What was most strange was the fact that Ole changed back to a 4-2-3-1 when a three at the back in big games seemed to be working relatively well. The space afforded on the left hand side, as Shaw tucked in but Rashford was given a cheating position up the pitch. You saw the amount of space Aurier was allowed down the right hand side was ridiculous and it was constant. The switches were permanently on for the Spurs side as there was not enough pressure around the ball either. The second half saw the back four push up the pitch and pin Spurs back more.
The mistakes that led to the goal were worse than schoolboy. Shaw should have controlled the ball rather than heading the ball aimlessly into the centre of the pitch. Maguire’s defending is the worst he has shown in a red shirt so far, showing him inside closer to the goal and De Gea capped it off with stinking save. Alike the Everton game, a mistake was the difference between three points and the one we gathered tonight. De Gea has made it so we have lost four points and it is just making the noise for Dean Henderson to come back to replace him because since the World Cup, the Spaniard has been remarkably below par.
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