It was the usual from United. Go behind and come racing back in the second half to get the three points. A disallowed goal by Cavani woke a slumbering game and Son put Spurs in front after a Lindelof mistake, not often seen this season, allowed a Kane pass into Lucas, squaring it for Son. You all know the story but the details were that a great passing move was finished off by Fred as Lloris saved from Cavani. Wan Bissaka, who had an incredible second half, passed into Bruno. He nutmegged Hojbjerg, which Greenwood would take and swing a beautiful cross into Cavani as the diving Uruguayan headed it in to make it two. The points were confirmed late on as Pogba danced past an already embarrassed Hojbjerg, pushed off Dier and passed to Greenwood. Greenwood’s shimmy bamboozled Reguilon, who seemed forget the ambidextrous of the young lad, to which he powered a right footed finish into the near post. More than United deserved and after a good week in Spain, some redemption for that criminal 6-1 loss earlier in the season
Slug and Hare
It has been a problem for Man Utd all season away from home. A goal being put in our own net, symptomatic of a sluggish first half, has often been to the light the touch paper as The Red Devils have come haring back in the second. Not since the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in January 2020 has United failed to take less than one point on the road. It has not been for the want of trying given we have often allowed the opponents to get the leg up. Why is it so? Well, it feeds into the wider issues we constantly face when we struggle. Teams set up to make things difficult for us now that they know we are so lethal on the counter. It is up to us to build the impetus, set the tempo and take the game to the opposition. For a multitude of factors, United are unable to do that consistently over the course of 90 minutes, let alone the season. The misshapen patterns of play, ill-fitting players and just poor mentality, which lends itself to the relative collapse seen in January and February. But then you see, the second half and it is totally different. None of that seems to matter anymore and United begin to resemble a team.
The game today against Tottenham was no different. Strangely enough, United could have felt hard done by to be behind given that a goal was ruled out that was pretty soft but has come to signify the growing timidity of football today and the Son goal coming so soon after came as a sucker punch, which rattled the heads of the United boys. Perhaps that played a part into why United came out in second half with a heightened intensity. But it only lit a fuse that only seems to get lit in the second half anyway. The passing was sharper, the movement in behind was more purposeful and there was much more of them. I am unable to quantify in words how much better the movement was compared to the tepidness in the first half – it was night and day in comparison. When you have one runner in behind – Rashford – with two feeders – Bruno and Pogba – along with a penalty box striker – Cavani -, when you get into the final third, it is likely going to have to perfect as there is going to be little for the opposition to worry about in behind them. So when they are not getting the ball quickly or in the dangerous areas, they can begin to look out of the game as they did in the first half. But, as Wan Bissaka became a marauding right back in the second half and Shaw turned his left foot into an all purpose golf club, United began to start further up the pitch. McTominay and Fred played two touch rather than the many touches they do so much. It’s why it became a bit of steamroll in the second half as territoriality, United were the far better team.
Your Guy’s a Uruguayan
A position constantly spoken about as United’s attackers have largely disappointed with their numbers. With the talk of Edinson Cavani potentially moving back to South America, the talk has risen even more. Then you have the performance of today and you see how much he can bring when he is on it, with the quantity lessening as he ages. A penalty box striker he is, as I mentioned earlier, but in the penalty box, he is king. The short movement in behind, when there doesn’t seem to be the space, he is able to find it. The disallowed goal and Fred’s goal, you saw how he is able to find it. Playing on the edge of a deep block and still managing to threaten them is the hallmark of a top striker. An outstretched leg from Rodon denied Cavani a near post flick that he so loves. But denied he would not be. The referee and Rodon had done so before but a peach of a cross from Greenwood was latched onto by the Uruguayan, sticking it to the near post of Lloris. The Englishman himself would do that again, but with his right foot. After his own headed goal last week, some see him as the heir to the 9 throne. Learning from Cavani will hopefully confirm that.
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