Manchester United’s shaky start to the 2023/24 season continued on Saturday with a 2-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Red Devils rode their luck a little to see off Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night at Old Trafford, but that fortune dried up and ran out in north London.
Erik ten Hag’s men were wasteful, particularly in the first half, while they were denied a penalty despite Cristian Romero appearing to handle the ball in the penalty area.
Once Spurs took the lead through Pape Matar Sarr shortly after half-time, Man Utd struggled to maintain their upward trajectory. The game was settled once Lisandro Martinez rolled the ball beyond his own goalkeeper in Andre Onana and into his own net.
Here were Man Utd’s best and worst performers, courtesy of 90min’s full player ratings.
Andre Onana: 6/10
As Scott Saunders touched on in his portion of the full player ratings (and continually muttered to me throughout in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium press box), every action taken by Andre Onana was the inverse of what David de Gea would have done.
The Cameroonian was commanding and bold, charismatic and unafraid. When Man Utd were wilting and Tottenham were soaring, he stood his ground and ensured his new side weren’t completely out of sight.
A clip is currently doing the rounds on social media of Onana coming and claiming a high cross with ease. It’s contrasted with De Gea trying and failing to do the same from his time in a Man Utd shirt.
Onana had unwillingly spent the week leading up the match in the headlines for the wrong reasons after he, by the grace of poor officiating, did not concede a penalty in the 98th minute of Monday’s 1-0 win against Wolves.
He managed to block out that noise and play his own game. That’s just the kind of unflappable character he is and one Man Utd fans will come to appreciate.
Raphael Varane – 6/10
On the whole, this was not a good defensive performance from Man Utd, in part again because of how overrun they were in midfield.
Raphael Varane kept his end of the bargain, though, stepping out to break up play and at least slow down Tottenham’s frantically quick attacks.
The veteran Frenchman even managed to match Son Heung-min and Richarlison stride for stride.
Antony – 4/10
That £82m price tag looks steeper by the week.
What’s perhaps more concerning is this was one of Antony’s brighter games in red. He struck the post immediately after Spurs went ahead and picked out his opposite winger Alejandro Garnacho in acres of space on multiple occasions. And yet still he was a net negative.
Man Utd attacks often died at the feet of Antony, whose choice to come inside onto his left foot was predictable and easily nullified by Tottenham.
Ironically, Spurs had a similar problem with their own left-footed right winger in Dejan Kulusevski, but when he diversified his game and started going outside his man, it led to the hosts’ opener.
Antony did not take on board such a glaring message and was hooked just after the hour mark. Man Utd cannot continually just live in hope that the Brazilian will make up for extremely poor performances by plucking a 25-yard stunner from out of nowhere.
Lisandro Martinez – 5/10
First of all, we should first give a shoutout to central midfielder Mason Mount, who completed just 14 passes out of 17 attempted in his 85 minutes on the pitch.
But we ultimately can’t overlook poor old Lisandro Martinez, who deflected Kulusevski’s low cross into Sarr’s path to allow Tottenham to take the lead.
The centre-back was then bamboozled by a swipe of the ball by Ben Davies and iced the game for Spurs with an own goal.
Tottenham were eventually able to capitalise on Martinez’s ultra-aggressive style of defending, surrounding him in chaos and duly taking advantage.