Manchester United still have the nuclear option to try and fix their centre back issue

Man Utd were humiliated 6-1 by Tottenham at Old Trafford and here are five talking points from the loss at Old Trafford. Defensive communica...

Man Utd were humiliated 6-1 by Tottenham at Old Trafford and here are five talking points from the loss at Old Trafford.

Defensive communication

When even the defender you spend a world-record fee on begins to look like he's falling into the death spiral that is playing in central defence for Manchester United, it might be time to consider the wider issues that are plaguing this side at the back.

Harry Maguire might not be the £80million fix to United's defence that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought he would be, but he was lauded at Leicester City and wanted by Manchester City last summer. His lack of pace is maybe an issue, his composure sometimes uncertain, but he's better than the defender who slammed a header into his partner and then fluffed another straight back to his goalkeeper in the lead-up to Tottenham's equaliser.

The decision to bring Eric Bailly in backfired too, with the 26-year-old all over the place against Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. It was a defensive disasterclass for United, with Luke Shaw's decision to run away from Son for the fourth perhaps summing it up.

But the question should be who was telling Shaw that Son was behind him? This looks like a defence with a major communication issue. Yes, the individuals are making mistakes, but unless there's a sudden change of heart over signing a central defender today these are the individuals Solskjaer is going to have to work with.

Somehow he needs to get them looking more like a unit than they currently do. Ignoring the suggestion given by Richard Keys to Pep Guardiola of bringing in Sam Allardyce, Solskjaer's nuclear option is a change in goal.

Blaming David de Gea for yesterday's collapse is harsh, but communication begins with a goalkeeper and there has to be a concern that he can no longer organise this defence. He's certainly a quieter goalkeeper than the boisterous Dean Henderson, who would bellow at his back four for 90 minutes.

Dropping the goalkeeper when the defenders have played so badly might seem like the wrong decision, but it's a brave decision now that is needed from Solskjaer.

The defence need a strong communicator. Henderson could provide that. De Gea hasn't made a catastrophic error to cost him his place, but yesterday's collective horror show needs decisive action. Something has to change.

Martial's indiscipline

After 31 seconds Anthony Martial will have been pretty pleased with his afternoon. By 31 minutes he was sat alone in the Old Trafford dressing room wondering whether his place as United's starting No. 9 was hanging in the balance.

The weekend had seen United finally move to sign a striker who would pose serious competition for the Frenchman but he responded to the challenge with a sharp turn of pace to get ahead of Davinson Sanchez and win United's early penalty. That would prove to be the highlight.

His petulant slap across Erik Lamela's face earned a red card and it was a trap he fell into incredibly easily. At a time when United were clinging on in the game it ended any chances they had of picking up points.

Cavani will now have two weeks to get fit enough to start a Premier League match when it's seven months since he last played competitively, but the 33-year-old will have three games to show he deserves to be a regular starter in this side, rather than the back-up option for Martial, who will only have himself to blame if he loses his place.

Missing midfield

Where is it? For the third Premier League game in a row United had little or no control in the centre of the pitch. The midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were outplayed by Brighton last week and by Tottenham this week.

Matic missed the game against Palace but when last season restarted this looked like the ideal balance in the centre of the pitch for United. Now they've become easy to play through. A familiar image in these first three games has been the opposition bypassing United's midfield to run directly at the defence.

The half-time changes in midfield were designed more to try and avoid complete embarrassment against Tottenham, but in the next two weeks Solskjaer has to give serious thought to changing the make-up of that trio. Right now they're proving too easy to play against.

Solskjaer's future

This defeat won't have an immediate impact on the future of Solskjaer, who has earned the backing of the board, but it would be naive to think a United manager could lose a game 6-1 at Old Trafford and not see the pressure increase, unless they're Sir Alex Ferguson.

It was only two months ago that United were finishing third in the Premier League after a 14-game unbeaten run, but the game moves quickly and the start of this season has been a disaster. United could easily have lost all three games and they could have conceded even more goals than they have done.

While Mauricio Pochettino remains out of work there will always be a feeling Solskjaer is looking over his shoulder. He can rightly argue that he's not had the backing he deserves in the transfer window this summer and that has robbed his team of the momentum they generated in the second half of last season.

But if the performances continue to be as poor as they have been in the first three league games then it's inevitable questions will be asked and the Norwegian will begin to feel the heat. This defeat won't cost him, but he knows he can't afford many days like this.

Setting the mood

This game felt vital not only for setting the mood during an international break, but also for an absolutely vital month to come for United.

After the international break United face Newcastle, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, RB Leipzig, Arsenal, Istanbul Basaksehir and Everton. It's a brutal month with games twice a week.

Solskjaer might try and say this won't have an effect, but on Friday he stressed how important setting the tone for what's to come was going to be against Tottenham,

"The results at the start of a season will always affect the mood of not only the players, but the fans, the club. It’s all dependent on results in football," he said.

"We have Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal at home, and two difficult away ones at Newcastle and Everton. So it’s a vital month, with the Champions League too - which weren’t the easiest games."

It's a vital month that has started on the most negative tone of all for United.

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GistLobby⚽: Manchester United still have the nuclear option to try and fix their centre back issue
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