Analysis

Manchester United's win at Tottenham - Gary Neville's verdict

Man Utd were 1-0 winners against Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday

Last Updated: 14/01/19 12:01am

Man Utd are now six games unbeaten in the Premier League
Man Utd are now six games unbeaten in the Premier League

Gary Neville believes Manchester United beat Tottenham with 'clever' tactical play on Sunday as he gives his verdict on the victory.

A first-half goal from Marcus Rashford - coupled with some inspired goalkeeping from David de Gea - saw Man Utd win their six successive Premier League game under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Former United defender Gary Neville says it was an intelligent tactical performance that won it at Wembley. Read on to see his full verdict from the Gary Neville podcast...

"Over the last few weeks, since Manchester United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, questions have been asked. Initially it was despair. If you remember when Jose Mourinho was sacked the players were all over the place and he restored what would be a little bit of happiness in that first week. People said there were smiles around the place again.

"As the weeks have gone on you've seen more of his imprint on the team in terms of the attacking play and the runs forward. The profile of the team has changed. We talked about it during commentary, gone are Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku from the starting line-up. I said a few years ago on Monday Night Football when Mata was signed that he was a wonderful player, but I thought it was a breach of philosophy. I didn't think he fitted the profile of a Manchester United player.

"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is picking the profile of player Manchester United need and that's players who have the energy to get from box to box quickly and counter-attack with quality. You've seen that in the last few weeks.

"At Wembley, it was the acid test. It was the moment where people said could he live in a big game and could he live against the big managers. Second-half I thought it was about spirit, desire and hanging on a little bit. The players were playing for the manager.

"But in the first half, he caught Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham out. There's no doubt about that.

"Manchester United went with a diamond and split strikers, which they haven't done all season so it's an adaptation.

"They've gone to Dubai this week not for a stag party or a bonding session but to work. They went to work. They went to work on fitness, but they also went to work on tactics. In that first-half Manchester United could have been one or two goals up. Tottenham had a couple of chances as well but Manchester United looked really threatening in the channels.

"It reminded me so much of the Liverpool game earlier in the season at Wembley when Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane got in down the sides of the Tottenham centre-backs. It looked to me like Solskjaer had watched that game and thought that's where I can hurt them.

"It was clever. He proved in that first-half that he can live in a big game against a big manager and a big team.

"In the second half it was different. Spurs adapted, and they came into the game. However, in terms of the test, he's absolutely passed this test with flying colours.

David De Gea made 11 second half saves to help Man Utd to victory
David De Gea made 11 second half saves to help Man Utd to victory

"You could see in the second half Manchester United were determined to hold on. They were determined to make sure they didn't concede a goal and they got there. It's such a huge win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and this group of Manchester United players. It feels like a million miles away from where this club was a month ago.

"Before the game, I said if Manchester United lost the game, the result should not determine the outcome of the next United manager. One thing I will say is because Manchester won, it shouldn't determine the outcome of the Manchester United manager.

"It shouldn't be like that. We shouldn't flip from week to week as to whether Solskjaer should be the Manchester United manager at the end of the season or not. It's something that I think will need to be looked at in April or May when there's been a body of work put in.

"I'll always remember that Liverpool game and after the match in that studio with Roy Keane, Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher, saying that it felt like the club was crawling on its hands and knees day-to-day, match-to-match and week-to-week. It felt like it was stuck and in the end, Jose Mourinho bore the brunt of that and was sacked.

"When the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was made the Manchester United fans responded straight away, as they always would do to a club legend. However, there is part of you in this position thinking is it a bit of an emotional appointment that's papering over the cracks. Is it a plaster over a wound that's too deep?

"It's now a month later and that performance against Tottenham is real. That's a proper performance Manchester United have put in and they've won it because of really clever tactical play in the first-half that damaged Spurs."