Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford did not go as he would have liked as his former club played exceptional football and ensured that a 2-1 victory set the ball rolling on a crucial fixture-laden week.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring early on for United from a great angle. Spurs waited until the end of the half to respond with Dele Alli making a superb attempt but in the second spell, it was Marcus Rashford who both won and delivered a decisive penalty to gift crucial three points to the home side.
1. Mourinho’s Eventful Return
The buildup to the game was riddled with the Special One’s name, just as he would have liked it. The circumstances of his sacking have been looked at quite critically in light of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s current fiascos and the Theatre of Dreams was in wait of a classic Mourinho encounter.
However, that simply did not occur as the London side was still very much riddled with the flaws that have spelled their downfall so far this campaign. One may have to wait for another season with the Portuguese gaffer in charge before the true sparks are seen.
For now, a tackle with Daniel James’ head was the best piece of action for Mourinho to take away from Manchester.
2. Marcus Rashford’s Brilliance
The spike in brilliance as displayed by Marcus Rashford has been immensely impressive.
The English striker has now netted just one goal fewer than his career-best tally of 10 League goals from last campaign and December has only just started.
This precise attitude is what United are desperate for. Further still, the calmness with which he slotted home the penalty is especially vital given the controversy and criticism of the Red Devils’ past misses this campaign.
8 goals in 8 games for club and country, Marcus Rashford is ready for more.
3. Dele Alli is Mourinho’s Man
When his team skills aren’t exceptional, Mourinho’s brilliance can be next seen in how he engineers individual talent.
At Spurs, Delle Alli appears to be the subject of this grace as he is currently the man in form for the new era. The trust placed on him by the former Chelsea and United gaffer is vital and the fact that he is delivering game after game may spell something special for the period ahead.
His goal today was a thing of beauty as his preceding touch cleared the backline and put De Gea in an awkward spot. Simply put, it was one of those rare goals that brought back a glimmer of a chance from a well-defended backline.
4. Fred and McTominay Back At It
Manchester United’s recent slump could have easily been attributed to the fact that Scott McTominay, arguably their season’s best performer, was out injured.
Upon returning, he displayed precisely what was missing and being partnered with Fred brought out the best of all aspects in the midfield.
There is no denying that he is still a bit rusty and that the nature of his lost tackles and wrong passes were worrying on Wednesday but what matters further is the swagger and scrappy passion with which he functions.
5. Next Stop – Man City
This win puts United in an interesting position with regard to the games ahead. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be immensely pleased with this start, especially since the climate preceding it was one where his job appeared to be in threat.
Incidentally, this has been United’s longest spell of the season where they haven’t lost, which is more of a comment on their plight this campaign than on the brilliance of these few games.
Further still, the Red Devils are unbeaten against top-six opponents going into the Manchester derby and it will be a true test of their fatigue as well as a prolonged indication of Anthony Martial’s injury which last spelled trouble for them.