Relief for Solskjær, boos for Nuno as Man U beats Tottenham

·3 min read

LONDON (AP) — In the end all the boos were for Nuno Espirito Santo as Tottenham fans chanted: “You don't know what you're doing.”

Joy had returned for Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Manchester United, for now at least.

After collecting one point from four games, Solskjær's changes worked — going to a three-man defense and starting Edinson Cavani up front with Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was the strike force with a combined age of 70 that scored the first two goals before Marcus Rashford came off the bench and sealed a 3-0 win on Saturday with a curling strike.

“It’s been a difficult week for the players, for the club, for the fans, for me," Solskjær said. “I’ve stayed away from most of the noise, but you know what’s happening out there. You know that you have to put a performance ... but for us, we needed this week.

“We needed a whole week to work on this, this performance and it’s probably the first, or the last time for a while we have a long week to work, so it was an important one, just to work on fitness, mentality and of course we changed the tactic.”

It helped that United faced a side that gifted space in defense and couldn't manage a single shot on target — the first time that's happened for Tottenham in a home league game since 2013 — on a woeful night for striker Harry Kane.

It leaves Nuno with five losses from his first 10 league matches in charge, a far cry from the team that had four consecutive top-four Champions League finishes from 2016 to 2019 under Mauricio Pochettino.

The chants against Nuno when Lucas Moura was taken off in the second half were followed later by “We want Levy out”. It's more likely there is managerial change rather than chairman Daniel Levy leaving, so toxic was the atmosphere.

“We have to improve all of us,” Nuno said. “It’s not about individually. As a team we have to do much better. It’s not only about our offensive game. We are vulnerable in defense. We concede. We keep the ball, yes, we make 10 shots, none of them on goal.

“We have to be more accurate. The final pass. It’s always not the right line. It’s behind, it’s front. So we have to improve. We have to improve.”

Solskjær vindicated the decision for United to stick with him following last Sunday's 5-0 humiliation to Liverpool but tougher tests could be ahead in the next week — with a Champions League trip to Atalanta and a home match on Saturday against Manchester City.

With City surprisingly being held 2-2 by Brighton on Saturday, the defending champions remain in third place — with United now only three points behind in fifth.

Tottenham is two points further adrift, having slipped from first place after three games to eighth place after 10 matches.

The hosts held out until the 39th minute when Ronaldo got on the end of a high ball from Bruno Fernandes and peeled away from defender Ben Davies before netting from a first-time volley across goal in the 39th minute. Ronaldo turned provider for Cavani, who clipped in the second in the 64th before Rashford came off the bench and produced a curling strike.

Tottenham never looked like even threatening a comeback, particularly with Kane looking a shadow of the player who was top scorer and assist-maker in the league last season.

The dismal form casts doubts on how long Nuno can stay in the job after leaving Wolverhampton last season to become Jose Mourinho's permanent successor at Tottenham.

“It sounds absurd," Nuno said, "but the only solution is we try and stick together and work, and work, work together.”

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Rob Harris, The Associated Press

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