The influence of Fred in Brazil
The crowd of Manchester United let out a collective moan at 7.15 p.m. on Wednesday in response to the news that Fred's name would remain on the teamsheet for a third consecutive game. It is safe to say that the Brazilian has not been universally popular this season.
After another two and a half hours have passed, the Stretford End is now singing to the midfielder, encouraging him to "rip you apart again" with shouts of "Fred, Fred will tear you apart again." Indeed, he was that good at what he did.
Even though he played poorly in Sunday's match against Newcastle, he was nevertheless given another opportunity since Christian Eriksen was still convalescing from an illness. You're absolutely right, Fred, and I'm going to win this round.
The Brazilian player soon found his footing in the game and was not only an efficient and effective presser, regaining possession of the ball on a few times thanks to his play, but he also displayed his team's more creative side of the ball.
He played the through ball that led to the same man attempting to lob Hugo Lloris, and he threaded a great through ball to set up Marcus Rashford for an excellent chance to score. All three of these plays resulted in scoring opportunities for their respective teams.
That strong beginning put him in the ideal mindset to deliver a strong performance in all aspects. He was given a lot more leeway to do what he wanted against Spurs, which included frequently moving forward and being a part of a press that was on par with anything United have generated so far this year.
That is a role that he plays for Brazil, with Casemiro providing assurance behind him, and this was the first evidence of it being duplicated in United Kingdom. [Casemiro] offers assurance behind him. Fred's goal was assisted by a deflection from Ben Davies, but it was still a case of him getting what he earned thanks to his hard work.
The fact that Fred is not always this consistent is a source of frustration for United. Although he is prone to having too many off days and too many games in which his passing radar fails him, this was undeniably one of his stronger efforts.
Martinez controls Kane
Those days in the middle of August when there were questions about Lisandro Martinez's potential to prosper in the Premier League seem like a lifetime ago now, and this feeling is not solely attributable to the fact that the temperature has begun to drop.
This was a textbook example of how to defend against Harry Kane, who became a more frustrated looking figure as the game went on. At times, he was tested by Raphael Varane, but like the majority of strikers this season, he tried his luck against Martinez. Martinez posed a challenge for him.
The Argentine might not have the height to compete with Kane in a battle, but he certainly makes up for it with his aggression and his defensive savvy. The highlight of his performance was the choice to move out with Kane and deny his attempted ball to Matt Doherty, which would have opened up opportunities for United. He held him under control for the whole of the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, Tottenham attempted to play the ball into Kane's foot, but Martinez was so close to the England captain that there was nowhere for Kane to move. He prevented him from receiving the pass, and David de Gea was able to dribble to it without any difficulty. Martinez had accomplished something that not many defenders do in modern times and had kept Harry Kane quiet, so Casemiro yelled his encouragement to him. Martinez had kept Kane quiet.
Taking a leap of faith
United played this game, the last of three in a week at Old Trafford, and they have been pouring shots on the opposition during that time. This game was the culmination of that stretch.
They had an incredible 19 shots during the first half of their match against Tottenham, which is an astounding number considering that Tottenham is now third in the Premier League and has a great defensive record.
Even though not all of them would be considered to be strong opportunities, there is still a sufficient number of chances to score. Lloris was having a strong performance, but United must have been frustrated that the score was tied at halftime.
They were fortunate enough to avoid losing because of it on this occasion, but they need to learn to be more ruthless when they are close to the goal. At the break on Wednesday night, they had taken 68 shots over the course of two and a half games against Omonia Nicosia, Newcastle, and Tottenham, but they only had one goal to show for it.
The barriers eventually gave way, and United deserved that moment of luck; but, the first half served as a reminder of the cutting edge that is occasionally lacking in their play.
Rashford is able to accomplish what Ronaldo is unable to.
After 11 minutes of play, the television cameras at Old Trafford had already cut twice to a stationary Cristiano Ronaldo sitting on the bench, with body language experts attempting to analyze every facial expression and reaction.
By the time the game was over, the activity on the field was so exciting that nobody remembered whether or not Ronaldo was even playing. If the first few months of this season have felt like the start of the end, then tonight may have been the night when the full stop was added to the sentence.
The only change that was made to the team from the one that played Newcastle on Sunday and the one that played Tottenham on Wednesday was the substitution of Marcus Rashford for Cristiano Ronaldo. Even while it may be too simple of a conclusion to reach, it can't be denied that United's attack looks a lot cleaner and more cohesive when Ronaldo isn't on the field. When it came time for the final minute of the game, the sight of the forward making his way down the tunnel seemed eerily appropriate.
This was the best performance they have given under Ten Hag, and the Dutchman is not going to deviate too much from this strategy in the upcoming weeks. Even taking into account all of Anthony Martial's missed opportunities, Marcus Rashford's performance against a three-man Tottenham defense was fantastic. He was able to draw a lot of attention away from them.
There are seven games left for Manchester United before the World Cup puts an end to the season, and it is perfectly possible that Cristiano Ronaldo will only start in the Carabao Cup matches against Sheriff Tiraspol and Aston Villa. When he gets back from Qatar, the transfer market for January will already be open, and the 37-year-old player's tenure at Old Trafford could very well be coming to an end at that point.
Ten Hag vs Conte
A year ago, Antonio Conte was not keeping any significant secrets, which is one of the reasons why Manchester United concluded he was not the right coach for them. They were aware of his reputation as a volatile, fiery, and demanding coach, and they speculated that this may have rubbed some players the wrong way.
Erik ten Hag has the same type of grit about him, but he's a little softer, and even if there's no genuine mystery around European football these days, it was more of a surprise when he was appointed by United this summer.
At Old Trafford, the two coaches were a striking contrast to one another on the sidelines. When Ten Hag did get up, he would offer instructions and then remain in his technical area for a few minutes while taking things in. He was frequently pleased with what he was seeing, and when he did stand up, he would deliver those directions.
The best way to describe Conte is as a jack-in-the-box. He was continuously in his technical domain, frequently testing the limits of it, and he spent virtually the whole game micromanaging his players, demanding small adjustments here and a slight modification there. He was continually pushing the boundaries of his technical area.
Even though he was so animated on the sideline, Rodrigo Bentancur still managed to reply in kind towards the conclusion of the first half. His intensity during games is a sight to witness, and he must be terrifying to play for, seeing as how he is so animated on the sideline. Although Ten Hag has his moments, his touchline presence is not even close to being on par with that of Conte.
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That's a miracle for them