Tottenham would have needed to look very onerous for a silver lining within the clouds over Wembley as Manchester United inflicted a defeat that casts recent doubt on their Premier League title credentials.
Spurs won’t merely fade away after arising towards an insurmountable one-man barrier within the form of United goalkeeper David de Gea – however this loss makes it even more durable for them to maintain tempo with leaders Liverpool and Manchester Metropolis.
And but, amid the dejection, the shaft of sunshine would possibly emerge from the afterglow of United’s win and the most recent success of their outstanding resurgence underneath Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Mauricio Pochettino was the title on everybody’s lips when Jose Mourinho paid his invoice and checked out of The Lowry Resort following his sacking by United in mid-December, the Argentine lengthy linked with Outdated Trafford even earlier than “The Particular One” bit the mud after defeat at Liverpool.
Solskjaer was a shock option to hold the seat heat. It has given United govt vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his energy brokers pondering time after an ill-judged decision-making course of that had seen Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and initially the hapless David Moyes succeed Sir Alex Ferguson and United fall behind these they might naturally regard as their rivals.
The 45-year-old Norwegian was successfully taken on mortgage from Molde in his homeland with a earlier file of Premier League failure when he led Cardiff Metropolis into the Championship. It was a choice to carry administration quickly again in home with their former striker, faucet into United’s former values and revive a squad that appeared to be main a lifetime of abject distress underneath Mourinho.
There should nonetheless be severe reservations at this early stage about whether or not Solskjaer can be handed the reins long-term however wins like this, constructed on a constructive tactical platform from a resurgent group earlier than a very exception show of goalkeeping from David de Gea, will strengthen his case.
And he went on to the Wembley turf on the closing whistle to take the acclaim from hundreds of United followers who chanted his title frequently and thunderously all through a sixth successive win.
This was his most exacting examination to this point. None his earlier wins have been something apart from anticipated, though nothing was sure given the shabby state United have been in when Mourinho was sacked.
Solskjaer earned cross marks for positivity and a gameplan which utilised the tempo and mobility of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial reasonably than the physicality of Romelu Lukaku.
The second half could have relied on De Gea however the foundations for victory have been assembled by that pro-active outlook that noticed Rashford give United a half-time benefit.
So would possibly this continued renaissance underneath Solskjaer not less than imply this loss offers Spurs elevated hope United will look elsewhere reasonably than within the route of north London?
It was at all times an smug assumption that Pochettino, who has solid working relationship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and enjoys management of soccer issues, would merely drop every thing at a beckoning finger from Outdated Trafford.
Spurs will (ultimately) transfer into a powerful new stadium and Pochettino has developed extremely shut bonds along with his gamers over the course of his time on the membership.
If United did make their transfer and are keen to pay the reported £40m it will take to purchase out the rest of the five-year contract the Argentine signed in Might 2018, who’s to say Levy would simply wave them by means of or Pochettino would robotically settle for?
It will undoubtedly, nonetheless, come as a fantastic reduction to Spurs if Solskjaer did so nicely that United regarded nearer to residence and did the form of take care of Molde that may be little greater than a formality.
Actual Madrid could but have a say in that however there is no such thing as a doubt Spurs presently have a vested curiosity in Solskjaer doing so nicely that his bandwagon, presently shifting at a reasonably stately tempo, gathers unstoppable momentum.
It’s small comfort that this is able to be a consideration after such a disappointing lead to what was billed in some quarters as a face-off between Pochettino and Solskjaer – though not by the 2 central characters within the sub-plot.
Pochettino is pivotal to every thing Spurs wish to obtain as they put together to maneuver into their new residence and he could really feel he nonetheless has necessary work to do as he continues to hunt that elusive first trophy since his appointment in Might 2014.
And the way they wanted some optimism to cling to after the ache of defeat was exacerbated by the sight of captain Harry Kane, their most necessary and influential determine, limping closely as he made his method in direction of the dressing room on the closing whistle accompanied by a physiotherapist.
The prognosis was a twisted ankle that left a pissed off and clearly involved Pochettino to confess: “I’m fearful. This may very well be a giant downside for us.”
It’s the damage Pochettino and Spurs concern most. The squad is gifted and adaptable, as they’ve proved earlier than, however the thought of life with out Kane, nonetheless quickly, is an unpalatable one.
And with one other prolific marksman, Heung-Min Son, now departing for the United Arab Emirates to characterize South Korea within the Asian Cup, the cabinet all of the sudden threatens to look naked.
Fernando Llorente doesn’t carry any severe weight of objectives whereas Vincent Janssen is, actually it appears, the forgotten man.
Pochettino and Spurs could all of the sudden face a dilemma within the remaining weeks of the switch window if Kane’s subsequent well being bulletin is a pessimistic one.
They may have been clutching at straws as they left Wembley on Sunday night time – the very fact Solskjaer’s newest success at their expense could but strengthen his case to turn out to be everlasting Manchester United may need been the very best they may do.