Real threat of more pain

If he is in the line-up, Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min could inflict more pain on Man United. –AP

MANCHESTER United are still reeling from the vanquishing they received at the hands of Liverpool last weekend.

Indeed, that humiliation, suffered in front of their fans at Old Trafford, will for a long time haunt this team. And unless they can get their act together in a hurry and find some semblance of cohesion and purpose, they might well find themselves trying to get up off the floor of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as well.

Against Liverpool, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were tormented by their fierce rivals unlike they had ever been in the last three or four decades, or longer.

The Red Devils, who often boast that they are the biggest and richest football team in the world (accurate when it comes to wealth), are seventh in the Premiership standings and eight points behind leaders Chelsea after nine games. Their squad comprises an abundance of supremely talented individuals, who for some reason or other fail to find any unity among themselves.

Should they fall against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs in the early kick-off today, one cannot but think that Solskjaer, as good a person and popular among their supporters as he is, will get the boot.

The reality is that this once mighty club could be languishing in the bottom half of the standings after this weekend.

And that is why there may be some substance to the notion that they will see off Spurs and bounce back with a vengeance.

Man United have a pool of players equipped to challenge the best in Europe. Yet here they are, banished to the realms of constant ridicule and made the laughing stock of English football.

Paul Pogba, who rightly or wrongly has been touted by many as the bad blood in the side, will miss the visit to London having been sent off with a straight red card in the chaos against Liverpool. He will sit out their next three matches in England as a result of his indiscretions.

The onus now will be on the senior players in the team to pick up the pieces, shake off the dust and begin to steer well away from the embarrassment of last weekend.

The likes of David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo should lead the way.

The absence of Harry Maguire from that shortlist was deliberate. Man United are said to have paid £80mil (RM457mil) to make him the most expensive defender in the world, yet against Liverpool he was absolutely shambolic.

The return to action from injury of French international Raphael Varane, who joined from Real Madrid for £34mil (RM194mil) in the off-season, would be welcome — so too if Solskjaer gave Jadon Sancho some playing time.

The 21-year-old moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund for £73mil (RM417mil) in July and has yet to be given a fair run of games in the Premier League. And with the sorry state of affairs at the moment, there is no reason why Solskjaer should not include Sancho in their starting XI.

Who knows? He may be the catalyst that changes the fortunes of the team.The contributions of Marcus Rashford, 23, and Mason Greenwood, 21, could again be Man United’s highlights.

In the face of a poor sequence of form by the Red Devils, these two lads have stood out like beacons of hope.

Spurs, though, will want none of that. They will be keen to build on a good midweek outing, all the while cognisant of their visitors’ thirst for redemption.

Nuno has not yet got his team operating at full bore. But their narrow win over Burnley that booked them a place in the Carabao League Cup quarter-finals should stand them in good stead today.

The Portuguese manager made five changes to the side that lost to West Ham last weekend for that Cup win. But he is expected to bring back a few of the regulars, including captain Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Tanguy NDombele, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min, if all are fit to play.

Son in particular could prove a huge thorn in the side of Man United. And if he is allowed to roam freely, along with England captain Harry Kane, the Red Devils will feel more pain.

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