They sang angrily about Daniel Levy, about the increasingly isolated Nuno Espirito Santo, and then turned their attention to Harry Kane.
There is gratitude for you. The player who, more than anyone else, has made Tottenham relevant in the modern era of the Premier League; who gave the club claims that it could separate, as part of a European elite with rights; whose goals made Mauricio Pochettino one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe; that made Levy look like a crafty operator; and that he helped build possibly the best stadium in the country. That’s what fans looked for when Tottenham slumped to a humiliating loss at home.
In the 75th minute, Edinson Cavani was pushed into his own goal and gave the ball to Kane, who suddenly wandered away. He attacked down the right flank, a rare Tottenham counterattack, before launching the looser cross that was easily cut off by Scott McTominay, Manchester United’s best player other than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s time at Tottenham could soon come to an end after another defeat
It’s hard to imagine that Kane has been booed by regulars at any of Spurs’ stadiums before, not even when he made it clear that he would rather sign for Manchester City. Back then, they wanted him to stay and the club forced him to stay. Now all parties live with the consequence of that.
While booing Kane is harsh, that doesn’t mean his form isn’t an issue. He has come to summarize Nuno’s discomfort, his helpless figure encapsulating the distance between where the club is and where they aspire to be.
There’s a big difference between the Spurs without Kane – because, in the past, they found ways around that – and the Spurs with Kane but playing poorly. It is as if they are a short man and the godfather as well.
We now see how Kane, and his goals, disguised as many deficiencies as the general mediocrity of the rest of the squad. Manchester United, the failed, inconsistent and poorly trained Manchester United, was a different class.
Harry Kane was booed by his own home crowd in a 3-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday.
They defended better, their midfield was excellent and in Ronaldo and Cavani they have found a perfect pair of forwards, if we overlook the fact that they will have a combined age of 72 in mid-February, so you can hardly expect that attend all games. . They looked more lively than any Spurs player, even the unnoticed Son Heung-min or fan favorite Lucas Moura.
It was Moura’s exchange for Steven Bergwijn in the 54th minute that provoked the most furious reaction. The boo was loud, followed by that old favorite: ‘You don’t know what you’re doing.
No one is buying Nuno’s strategy, least of all Kane. In a flat team, he seeks involvement, goes deep, widens in search of the ball, and ceases to be the focal point that Tottenham need.
They look for it in all the old familiar places, but it’s not there. And when it is, the service is not good enough. Tottenham is slow, Tottenham passes sideways.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was boosted by the return of Raphael Varane and went belt and shooters with five behind. That threw a blanket over Tottenham’s forwards and hard work in midfield did the rest. The Tottenham team could not cope with the attention of players who less than a week earlier had been branded shy at work. Then they added some lazy tropes of their own.
For United’s third goal, Ben Davies was slow to move onto a defensive line to knock Marcus Rashford out of the game. His reaction was to first raise an arm to alert the linesman of an offside that was not offside, then to raise both in a furious warning from the referee once the ball was in the net. Note: It is not the line judge’s job to protect lazy defenders by raising a flag to order. It’s your job to catch up with your teammates.
Nuno’s surprising decision to remove Lucas Moura made the atmosphere toxic
“If the fans sing about firing the coach, they think about firing him,” David Pleat once said. “If they sing about looting the board, they definitely fire the manager.”
So apparently the Spurs are thinking of firing Nuno. Even by the standards of the modern game, it would be terribly premature. He was the Premier League Manager of the Month in September.
On Saturday night, his team was still only two points away from the Champions League places. This was a bad display; But what is Tottenham’s strategy if a new manager gets 10 league games to prove himself?
Back to Kane. The numbers tell a story. He had a shot, late in the game, that hit Harry Maguire and had only four touches in the United area.
For such a prolific scorer, he has had only one shot, or none, in every league game he has played this season, save for the 2-1 win over Aston Villa on October 3.
After their loss on Saturday, Tottenham have now lost five games after just 10 league games.
Last season, his average of four shots per game was the highest in the Premier League. On Saturday night, he had 32 players ahead, almost enough for two at each club. The easy answer is disappointment after the collapse of the City movement, but clearly Nuno’s game plan doesn’t suit her.
Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg completed 103 passes of which 73 failed. What good is it to a striker? Equally, Kane might be trying too hard to impress.
If you feel like you need to win over the fans after the summer, you will enter the games with more tension than before. What must it have felt like for Kane to play at home in the past? How he feels now? Booing him only perpetuates that vicious cycle.
Meanwhile, in the end, delirium. Ole is at the wheel again, just like he wasn’t the Sunday before, but he had been the Wednesday before, but not that Saturday in Leicester and, well, you know the seesaw narrative by now.
It’s the soccer equivalent of Newton’s third law of motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So this was the complete opposite of the 5-0 loss to Liverpool. Manchester United looked consistently prepared, they had a plan that worked and the players were striving to fulfill it.
They also have, in Ronaldo, one of the top match winners of any age. He ended a four-game goal drought in the Premier League with a volley as good as anyone will see this season, and his change and pass to Cavani’s goal, United’s second, was sublime. The question is, can United stick with a system that benefits such a talismanic player, but can’t find room for Rashford, Mason Greenwood or Jadon Sancho?
Cristiano Ronaldo ended his four-goal Premier League drought against Tottenham
Ronaldo was supposed to help the development of those players, he would be the perfect complement to their skill and youthful exuberance. Instead, the need to reshape United on defense to accommodate their immense talent excludes them from the team.
So any conversation about a turn in the corner may once again be premature. If we divide the team into black and white, into defensive-minded players and offensive-minded players, United played with three attacking players at Spurs: Ronaldo, Cavani and Bruno Fernandes.
There were five defenders, a goalkeeper and two of the three midfielders, Fred and McTominay, both excellent, are mainly there to defend. It worked. It may not work everywhere, but it was a response to a specific moment in time, a moment of crisis for the club and Solskjaer found a solution, and he deserves credit for that. However, is it sustainable in the future?
Could United play like this against Atalanta on Tuesday? Can Solskjaer look at the young players who were supposed to be the future of the club and tell them that the 2021-22 season will not be his season after all? It was a great day for United in London, but also one that still leaves many questions unanswered. Much like Levy’s plan for Nuno and Spurs.