Erik ten Hag

Not even the sight of a disgruntled Cristiano Ronaldo storming down the tunnel could dampen the mood at Old Trafford after Wednesday night’s resounding win.

After a couple of worrying performances, Manchester United hit top gear against Tottenham, putting in their most complete display under Erik ten Hag and showing just how dangerous this side could become in the years ahead.

What is clear, though, is that this performance still wasn’t perfect. On another day, United might well have hit Antonio Conte’s side for four or more, but instead they had to settle for just two goals.

A week ago, it was Francis Uzoho who thwarted the United attack. This time, an inspired Hugo Lloris frustrated the forwards with an outstanding solo display.

United are still a work in progress under Ten Hag, but are starting to show signs of real promise. There is a clear identity taking shape and they are starting to control matches rather than rely on moments to decide them.

However, despite the obvious dominance on the night, there was still a gluttonous thirst for more goals at the end of the game and a nagging feeling that perhaps there should have been more.

Anthony Martial missed out with an injury, meaning that Marcus Rashford led the line in attack. He caused problems with his intelligent reading of the game but remained rash in front of goal, wasting a number of chances that fell his way.

Rather than carefully picking his spot in the corners of the goal, Rashford lashed his efforts as hard as possible, leaving Lloris with a chance of saving them as long as he dived the right way.

United are still unduly reliant on Martial, which this season has already cost them on multiple occasions, especially with Ronaldo seemingly on the way out and Rashford still being a far superior option from the left wing.

The plan for next summer remains to sign a long-term central striking option. The elephant in the room is that it should be Harry Kane.

At Old Trafford, he watched helplessly as his team battled to handle United’s relentless pressure. Every time they gained control of the ball, opponents hounded them and forced them into mistakes out of a tremendous desire to get it back, as if their lives depended on it.

This was an eye-opening night. One that signalled United’s lofty ambitions under Ten Hag and one that raised the same old questions about Tottenham and how this club will ever be able to make the leap into serious Premier League title challengers.

At the age of 29, Kane must have serious questions about his long-term future at Spurs and whether or not he will actually ever fulfil his ambitions at a club with a track record for unfulfilled potential.

Although there is giddy excitement from some parts at the progress they are now making under the tutelage of their new manager, those same complaints can definitely be applied to United over the past ten years as well.

It is still far too early to be talking Ten Hag’s team up as potential Premier League title challengers, though if they managed to add a world-class striker to the mix, then they might be back in those discussions.

What’s more, United might be the only logical next-step for Kane too.

City have a long-term solution to their previous striker woes in the shape of Erling Haaland, and Liverpool have also invested heavily in that area with the signing of Darwin Nunez. As rivals of Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea look to be out of the picture when it comes to possible next destinations for Kane, meaning United and Newcastle might be the only two English clubs actually capable of pulling off such a deal.

Even on the continent, there aren’t many obvious options. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid could both look at signing him but might well want to sign a longer-term option up front for the money they’d need to spend to lure him away from North London.

Perhaps then, United are the only club rich enough, and perhaps desperate enough, to cave in to Tottenham’s demands, while they would also offer Kane a platform to chase Alan Shearer’s record as the all-time top scorer in the Premier League.

United are crying out for a striker in the shape of Kane, and he might well be crying out for a club that can finally match his lofty ambitions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here