Six games, six wins, this last one away from home against the team managed by the man who would be king of Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino. It was billed as Solskjaer’s first big test, and he passed it.
Both managers denied that this match was a public audition for the vacancy left by Jose Mourinho, but if results don’t matter, what does? Solskjaer’s have been flawless to here.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
TOTTENHAM: (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Winks (Llorente 81), Sissoko (Lamela 43); Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane
SUBS NOT USED: Gazzaniga (GK); Rose, Sanchez, Foyth, Skipp
BOOKINGS: Alli (50)
COACH: Mauricio Pochettino
MAN UNITED: (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Ander Herrera, Matic; Lingard (Dalot 83), Pogba (McTominay 90+2), Martial (Lukaku 73); Rashford
SUBS NOT USED: Romero (GK); Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred
GOALS: Rashford (44)
BOOKINGS: Herrera (66), Pogba (78)
COACH: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
REFEREE: Mike Dean
MAN OF THE MATCH: David de Gea
VENUE: Wembley Stadium
Not without help, mind you. David De Gea was quite sensational, in the second-half, as Tottenham searched for an equaliser. Save after save after save.
Tottenham did not have a shot on target in the first-half, then peppered United’s goal like a paintball target. Each time, De Gea was equal to it. With his feet, mostly. Sometimes, it is easy to forget he has hands.
Who did he save from? Who didn’t he? Harry Kane feet, Dele Alli’s head, Kane’s head, Alli’s feet, Toby Alderweireld at the near post, Fernando Llorente from eight yards, Kane from a free-kick, Alli again, and Kane. Yet if that makes it sound as if Manchester United were lucky, they were not.
De Gea did what a good goalkeeper should, and Solskjaer’s side defended bravely and took a breakaway chance through Marcus Rashford.
That was the plan, and it worked. Manchester United were never going to sweep Tottenham aside as they have the inferior opponents faced since Solskjaer’s arrival, so this was a fine tactical victory, a smart one – the sort of win few imagined the new man would be able to conjure.