Manchester United moved up to sixth in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham last night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer landed a blow on his predecessor Jose Mourinho, who suffered his first loss as Spurs boss.
And United finally held onto a lead, which is something Mourinho sides are traditionally good at but Solskjaer has struggled with so far this season.
Seventh time lucky
As Solskjaer acknowledged after the match, United have had six Premier League draws this season and have led in each of those matches.
1-0 leads disappeared on the road early in the season at Wolves and Southampton.
Dominant home displays against Arsenal and Liverpool have only seen United net the one, before being pegged back in the second half.
And in their last two games, United have had to come from behind themselves against promoted sides Sheffield United and Aston Villa to lead, before letting those advantages slip within minutes.
United even let a first half lead slip last night when Dele Alli cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s opener but found a way to muscle back in front and crucially, keep themselves there.
United template to build on
United’s failure to hold a lead has been all the more perplexing given Solskjaer’s preference for counter attacking football and the fact that the bulk of his summer investment went on defenders.
If that’s Solskjaer’s preferred approach, United have to get better at sitting deep, soaking up pressure and providing a threat on the break to keep opponents honest at the back and ease pressure on their backline as the game wears on.
United kept working hard to preserve their lead, keep Tottenham at bay and tried to break forward when possible.
They can’t afford to just sit in and cling to leads. The evidence has shown that United aren’t good enough defensively to do that, and equalising goals end up inevitable.
United should have kept attacking at Bramall Lane, instead of dropping back in and introducing Axel Tuanzebe to anchor midfield, withdrawing an attacking threat in Anthony Martial.
That threat must always be there and United players have to show the same desire to close the game out last night – when trying to prove a point to Mourinho – against every opponent, regardless of their perceived stature.
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