MANCHESTER, England (AP) — If anyone knows about setbacks as a Manchester United manager it’s Jose Mourinho.
But not even Mourinho in his United stint experienced a defeat as heavy as the one his current Tottenham side inflicted on Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s United on Sunday.
“I feel sympathy for him,” Mourinho said after Tottenham’s 6-1 victory at Old Trafford. “I can imagine that tonight he’s not going to sleep very, very well.”
Only once since 1930 has United conceded six at home — to Manchester City nine years ago. Not since 1986 has United opened the league season with back-to-back home losses.
“It’s very embarrassing, it hurt all the players,” said Solskjaer, who was hired after Mourinho’s firing in 2018. “It hurts me as the manager. It’s my worst day ever. I’ll hold my hands up, I’m responsible for this.”
This was a crushing defeat to a Tottenham side that has played eight games in 22 days across three competitions and was trailing after two minutes.
But after Bruno Fernandes’ penalty, United’s wretched defense allowed Tanguy Ndombele to level in the fourth minute and Son Heung-Min to net again inside three minutes.
United can be aggrieved that Erik Lamela’s apparent playacting led to Anthony Martial being sent off in the 28th minute. But the team was already being run ragged by Tottenham.
Harry Kane and Son extended the lead before halftime, Serge Aurier was on target six minutes after the break and Kane completed the rout from the penalty spot.
“Very impressive,” Mourinho said. “The team was phenomenal since the second minute. Losing 1-0, big personality.”
Unlike United, which opened the season with 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace. Two more goals were conceded at Brighton last weekend but Fernando came to United’s rescue with a winner from the penalty spot in the 10th minute of stoppage time.
In contrast to that late penalty on the south coast, United was immediately off the mark from the spot against Tottenham.
The game was barely 30 seconds old when Davinson Sanchez tripped Martial to halt a run into the penalty and Fernandes converted from the spot.
Fernandes can be relied on to score penalties — this was his 18th in a row including at previous club Sporting in Lisbon. What cannot be relied on is United’s shambolic defense despite captain Harry Maguire becoming the world’s most expensive defender when he was signed last year for 80 million pounds (then $97 million).
Twice he weakly headed the ball, unable to clear the danger, before Ndombele prodded in the leveler.
“Today was totally unacceptable,” Maguire said.
United was carved apart when Kane slipped the pass through for Son who lifted the ball over goalkeeper David De Gea. It was the first time in a decade that three goals had been scored in the opening seven minutes of a Premier League game.
The blot of Tottenham’s day came with Lamela seeming to deceive the referee after being softly struck by Martial in retaliation for a light push on his face by the Argentine. Lamela clutched his face before dropping to the ground — and Martial’s red was upheld by a VAR check.
“Well done Anthony for not going down and not trying to con the referee to send Lamela off, because he puts his arm on Anthony’s chest and throat,” Solskjaer said, before criticizing Lamela. “A lad can’t stay up for five seconds before he decides to go down. If that was my son he would live on water and bread for two weeks, that’s not how I want my players to act.”
Even more infuriating for Solskjaer was Tottenham going further in front on the half-hour but United only had itself to blame.
Eric Bailly received the ball and passed sloppily to Nemanja Matic, whose failure to control was seized on by Kane. The striker intercepted the ball and played a one-two with Son before netting.
United was torn apart down the right flank for Tottenham’s fourth. After being released by Moussa Sissoko, Aurier put the ball through the legs of Maguire, the center half who had drifted into a left back position, and Son flicked a shot through De Gea in the 37th.
United was in disarray and fortunate not to concede again until after the break. It was Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s weighted pass that set up Aurier for the fifth.
Pogba compounded a dismal display by fouling Ben Davies to concede the penalty that Kane converted in the 79th.
“An amazing performance, an historical result and very important three points,” said Mourinho, who is trying to return Tottenham to the Champions League.
The coronavirus pandemic kept fans out of the stadium — sparing Solskjær boos from his own supporters.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” United defender Luke Shaw said. “Whoever is on the pitch, whatever the scoreline is, the players have to take responsibility.”
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