Man United at Old Trafford on Monday evening.
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As per usual with any Mourinho managed team, the Red Devils have become more soap opera than football club. Why didn’t Woody support Jose in his hour of need? What’s the matter with David? Why aren’t Paul and Jose friends anymore? Do Eric and Victor speak the same language? Has Jose really stopped bullying Luke? Everybody Doesn’t Love Jose.
Their unsatisfying performance in the league season curtain raiser when they beat Leicester was followed up by a far worse display on Sunday when they were outfought and out thought by Chris Hughton’s Brighton. Pogba has blamed the team’s attitude but there were far more basic flaws on display, erratic passing, gung-ho defending and a general tactical naiveness. All very worrying, or funny, depending on your point of view.
So, easy pickings for a confident, hoodoo breaking and free-scoring Spurs side with a record of two wins from two? Erm. Not quite.
Taking on Man United at Old Trafford has been, even in these blessed Pochettino times, a thankless task no matter the form of the opposition in the lead up to the game.
The fixtures for the last three seasons have been ugly triplets. Ninety minutes of not much going on punctuated by a defensive switch-off and a winner for the home team. A Kyle Walker o.g., Mkhitaryan and Martial. In each game we’ve had at least one good chance but not taken it, we’ve not scored since Eriksen netted our winner there on New Year’s Day 2014.
Still, this year it’ll be different! Of course it will.
United are in disarray, we are settled. They are playing like strangers, we are a family, all committed to The Project. We have a manager capable of improving and getting the most from his players. They have Mourinho.
Poch has a couple of decisions to make. What formation and who in midfield? It was great to see the band (Jan, Toby and Sanchez) back together on Saturday, however the midfield of Dier with Dele and Eriksen helping out got overran once Fulham tinkered with their formation. The sacrifice of Sanchez for Dembélé cured the problem, but what about playing Mousa with Dier from the start in front of the back five? Ideal, but one of Kane, Eriksen, Dele and Moura will have to start on the bench. Moura is most likely, which isn’t exactly a morale boost for a goalscorer from last week. Not a straightforward decision.
Mourinho won’t mind playing us. Letting us have the ball and sitting back whilst waiting for either a mistake or the opportunity to throw the pace of Martial or Rashford against a tiring defence is Template Number One from his play book.
United are far from a busted flush: Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Rashford, Lukaku. Our job will be to throw a spanner in the works by creating enough chances for Harry or Dele to nick the first goal. We’re more than capable of doing this of course, and personally I’m quietly confident.
So, three points here we come!
Craig Pawson is the ref.
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