Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho instructed his players to try and capitalise on the defensive vulnerabilities of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood ahead of the side’s 6-1 victory over Manchester United.
The Red Devils drew first blood as Bruno Fernandes converted from the penalty spot early on but the visitors equalised through Tanguy Ndombele just two minutes later and went on to dominate the remainder of the Premier League clash.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both completed braces for a rampant Spurs as Serge Aurier – who also got on the scoresheet – and Sergio Reguilon ran riot down the flanks at Old Trafford.
According to Manchester Evening News, Mourinho correctly predicted that Rashford and Greenwood would provide little to no protection for Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and therefore told his full-backs to press as high with as much intensity as possible.
The report claims Mourinho and his coaching staff guessed United’s team down to a man, with Eric Bailly coming in for an out-of-form Victor Lindelof, and the Portuguese also pinpointed Paul Pogba’s deeper midfield role as an area of weakness for the hosts.
Pogba was arguably United’s worst performer on the day and his lacklustre performance left Nemanja Matic exposed on numerous occasions in the opening 45 minutes before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hooked the Serbian at the halfway stage.
Mourinho jumped to Solskjaer’s defence after Tottenham’s comprehensive win and insisted the Norwegian would still have the full support of his players despite the humiliating result.
‘I have sympathy for Ole because of the result,’ the Special One said.
‘I don’t remember that I lost by six but I’ve lost by five and lost by four, I know how it hurts.
‘I know that it’s very, very important that the winning manager behaves in a way where he shows sympathy.
‘Of course I want to win and of course I want to win by seven and not by six [goals], don’t get me wrong. But sympathy in our behaviour, today was him, tomorrow it’s me, and of course I feel sympathy for him.
‘I can imagine that tonight he is not going to sleep very, very well but this is the hard life of us. But when I look to his team there was an evolution.
‘It’s not like he arrived here and the team didn’t improve anything. The team is improving, they have good players, he bought lots of young players, they bought very good players.
‘It’s not this defeat that’s going to destroy them. I can imagine they are going to react like Manchester United always react.
‘So I feel sympathy for the result but apart from that, no sympathy because he has an incredible job, the players will stick with him, the feeling is that the players like him, the players are going to react, for sure.’
Solskjaer admitted he had endured the ‘worst day’ of his tenure at United after he watched his side concede six goals on home soil.
‘It’s my second language so it’s very difficult to put it into words,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
‘It’s a horrible feeling, the worst day I’ve had as a Manchester United manager and player.
‘I’ve been part of big defeats before and we’ve bounced back so we’ve just got to let the boys go away on international duty, find their mojo themselves and the others that are going to stay here, we’ve got to help them.
‘After a result like this you need to clear your mind and head and look forward.
‘They are a team full of quality and we got punished almost every time we made a mistake.’