ARNAV KHANNA | 31st October 2021

Billed as the “El Sackicko”, in what is an embarrassingly unfortunate excuse for a pun, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fought to live another day as Manchester United made easy work of Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs, winning 3 goals to nil.

Here are the 4 talking points from a contest that left us with a lot to ponder over.

1. The 3-5-2 may just be Ole’s new cheat code

Antonio Conte might still be in Rome, but his formation has already made an appearance in Manchester. In what seemed like a plan of pragmatism on paper, this formation allowed Solskjaer to go back to his roots with counter-attacking football and a compact defense making a comeback.

While the 4-2-3-1 exposed United’s lack of a defensive structure and shoehorned players into awkward roles with impossible responsibilities, this setup does the complete opposite.

With three centre-backs holding the fort, Fred and McTominay could play to their strengths with their roles being that of midfield aggressors rather than protectors while Wan-Bissaka found a new lease of life at right wing-back, attacking with intent yet still being defensively sound when called upon.

Bruno in a free-role was more devastating than usual too, linking play with aplomb on either flank during settled periods of possession as well as providing incision on the counter through the middle.

2. The end of Nuno at Spurs seems inevitable

Tottenham Hotspur, with their impassioned fanbase roaring them on have always been a handful to play against. Actually, one may have to reconsider this sentiment after their abject showing last night.

For the lack of a better adjective, this was a nothing performance from Nuno’s Spurs. No penetration in attack, no control in midfield, no stability in defense. Nothing.

You don’t have to be the next Arrigo Sachi to come to the realization that this Lilywhites outfit seems disconnected with the manager’s philosophy in bafflingly bang average fashion.

The players look as lost on the pitch as Nuno looks on the touchline and his questionable substitutions proving my point. Lucas Moura at half-time for Steven Bergwijn was a headscratcher, considering the Brazilian was the North Londoners’ standout performer.

Wolves were never as bad as current Spurs, fortifying the point that it just has not worked out for the Portuguese boss.

When boos emanate and the points tally stagnates, the only place left for the gaffer to go is through the exit door.

The 3-5-2 is here and it might just stay for a while.

3. News Flash: Ronaldo and Cavani as a front two works

Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo have a combined age of 70 but neither showed any signs of slowing down against Spurs.

Much like the formation, this partnership looked measured rather than marauding on paper, but reality served up a completely different look. A nuisance during settled play yet still terrifying on the counter, this front two would check all the boxes in any manager’s book.

Ronaldo has always thrived in a partnership anyway (see: Benzema at Madrid, Dybala and Higuain at Juventus) and it was no different today. Cavani’s persistent yet planned pressing allowing CR7 to stay eagle-eyed towards goal formed a lethal and cohesive dynamic which was a headache for the Spurs backline.

And it showed. Ronaldo peeled away to slot home an exceptional volley at the back-post for the first while Cavani calmly slotted home from a sumptuous assist from his partner for the second.

The veteran who sacrificed the No.7 for the God who now adorns it may just have the start of a special partnership brewing.

4. We need to talk about Harry Kane. Again.

If one did not read the line-up, they could be fooled into thinking that Harry Kane didn’t start the game. The Three Lions captain looks as if he has fully clocked out. Visibly lackluster and disinterested, he wafts along as if he’s been forced to be on the pitch.

Which, technically is the case.

Not selling Kane for triple digits when he could have is probably the worst decision Daniel Levy has ever made during his tenure.

And now, Tottenham have a No. 9 on their hands that carries all the baggage of an exceptional highlights reel that cannot rescue Spurs from their unavoidable mediocrity.

There’s not a more toxic relationship between player and club in world football and it’s ended up becoming a lose-lose situation for both parties.

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