Manchester United beat Tottenham to Tighten Grip on Second Place

VAR was at the centre of controversy in a Premier League match once more as Manchester United were denied a goal in the first half when Scott McTominay was ruled to have caught Son Heung-Min in the face in the build-up. There were a few minutes of deliberation between the match official Chris Kavanagh and the VAR team before Kavanagh checked the pitchside monitor and gave a free-kick to Spurs- much to the fury of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The contact was minimal and McTominay was not looking at Son so the decision appeared harsh and may have been influenced by the reaction of Son, who went down somewhat theatrically.

To add insult to injury for Solskjaer, it was then Son who finished off a sweeping Spurs move to give his side the lead at half time.

Tottenham Drop More Points From Winning Position
Jose Mourinho succumbed to his tenth league defeat in a season for the first time in his managerial career as Spurs dropped their 18th point from a winning position following a dire second-half performance.

Solskjaer sent his team out quicker and with more urgency than their opponents and levelled things up through Fred before a fine Edinson Cavani header and stoppage time Mason Greenwood strike ensured Mourinho and Spurs were dumped into further trouble with a top-four finish rapidly slipping away.

Whilst United’s second-half display deserves praise, it was another second-half horror show from Spurs. Despite Son and Harry Kane bringing saves from Dean Henderson, and Cavani heading onto his own bar, there was a lack of urgency about the home side and it is hard to imagine that 60,000 fans would accept the football they are currently saved from watching at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Only three shots on target and more basic errors at the back were symptomatic of what Spurs have become under Mourinho. For Cavani’s equaliser, Greenwood easily drifted past Sergio Reguilon and neither Eric Dier nor Serge Aurier reacted.

The winner owed much to the vision of Paul Pogba helped by Spurs leaving space across the backline. It was all far too easy and all far too familiar.

Mourinho clearly doesn’t know who to trust at the back as he rang the changes again – for the 16th time this season. Dier came in to replace Davinson Sanchez with Aurier replacing Japhet Tanganga from the 2-2 draw at Newcastle United a week earlier. The lack of consistency and cohesion shows and Tottenham’s season is in danger of ending in failure.

Serial Winner Mourinho Running Out of Time as Tottenham Hotspur’s Problems Grow
As Tottenham Hotspur’s problems mount, Mourinho is starting to run out of time to make a success of his first full season in charge. Brought into turn a team of nearly men into winners, the Portuguese manager now has seven Premier League matches remaining and the League Cup final to save a season once filled with promise before becoming a turning point for the worse for the North London club.

A second season with no Champions League football will hit the clubs finances hard particularly as the new stadium is still a huge debt to be paid. Rumours around Kane departing continue and will do so throughout the summer, Son is yet to sign a new contract, Toby Alderweireld look surplus to requirements as do Dele Alli, Harry Winks. Adding to that, Gareth Bale is unlikely to return for a second season on loan.

Mauricio Pochettino talked about Tottenham needing a ‘painful rebuild’ in 2019 but it has not happened and a tired squad, key players lacking winners medals and a manager seemingly at odds with the club are starting to put a strain on everyone around him.

In 2019, the rebuild may have been painful had it come to fruition, but in 2021, the rebuild will need to be more than painful with Tottenham looking like a club far from being winners and more like a club that made progress under one manager, trod water for too long and are heading backwards under Mourinho. Even a League Cup win might be too little too late for this current squad and its increasingly frustrated manager.

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