United were in desperate need of a response following a shock defeat at Brighton that led to heightened scrutiny on the manager, key players and background operations.
Mourinho looked to have got the desired response from his players, only for United to unravel in the second half as Harry Kane’s header was complemented by Lucas Moura’s brace as Tottenham ran out 3-0 victors.
“You’re getting sacked in the morning” chanted the visiting fans after Spurs piled the pressure on the Portuguese and ended their run of four successive Old Trafford defeats.
While Mauricio Pochettino’s men enjoy a 100 per cent start to the campaign, this is just the second season in Premier League history that United have lost more than one of their opening three matches – a result few could have imagined during the hosts’ bright start.
Romelu Lukaku should have scored in a first half in which Phil Jones was fortunate not to give away a penalty for a foul on Moura, but the Brazilian would have the last laugh.
Kane’s headed opener was followed up by Moura striking home 133 seconds later, setting up a victory that the Brazilian added gloss to as the clock wound down to ratchet up the pressure on United.
Harry Kane‘s goal and two from Lucas Moura condemned United to a chastening Old Trafford loss which will do little to quash rumours of unrest at Old Trafford.
But Mourinho pointedly stayed on the pitch to applaud the supporters who had sung his name towards the end of the match.
And afterwards he claimed the performance of his players proved the solidarity in the dressing room as well as in the stands.
“We worked very well during the week, we prepared well, we played well, the players had a fantastic attitude,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“At half-time the result should be 2-0, 3-1, 3-0, but then something changed the game a bit and the result was 2-0 but the team was in the game.
“I think everyone felt one goal could change the direction of game, Tottenham felt it, we did too, but then the third goal changed the game.
“If anyone watched this game one thing they will know for sure, the team is united.
“A team doesn’t fight like they fought if they are not united. I think it’s time to stop with the untruths.
“A team that fights the way they did with the solidarity between the players, the dignity to play together for Manchester United and lose at home, of course it’s a very difficult thing for anyone.
“I think one thing is clear, the team are united. There is no union without the manager.”
Liverpool are seen in some quarters as the only viable challengers to champions Manchester City this season, but England striker Kane was happy to big up Tottenham’s chances.
“That’s massive, to come here and win the way we did is a big statement,” he told Sky Sports.
“We wanted to start the season well and three wins out of three is a great start.
“We didn’t play well in the first half but we came in at 0-0 and said we had to step up the tempo. We got the first goal and then we punished them, Lucas with two great finishes, and we saw the game out.
“That’s the only way we’ll win the league. We haven’t started well in previous years, we’ve had to play catch-up, but the top six are so strong now you have to stay with them.
“This will give us huge belief, it’s a great statement tonight.
“We’re trying to create our own history at Spurs. We’ve not been top of the league over the years like United, like Chelsea. We’ve done well in the last few years but not quite got there – but we have the drive to take the club to the next level.”
Spurs were criticised for not adding to their squad over the summer but Kane said: “A lot of us have been playing together for a while and that helps.
“It’s a long old season and at times like today in the first half we stuck together, that’s what will help us win the title.
“The gaffer said he is not bringing players in who won’t improve the squad and that’s a big bonus for us.”
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling made their first starts of the season for Manchester United on Monday, with manager Jose Mourinho reacting to last week’s shambolic defeat to Brighton by completely changing his rearguard. Out went Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof and in came the English duo, alongside Ander Herrera in a back three.
The change worked for a half, but United fell apart in the second half as Jones and Smalling were at fault for three Tottenham goals in a 3-0 loss.
Tackles – 2
Clearances – 5
Interceptions – 1
Blocks – 1
Aerial duels won – 6/6
Tackles – 1
Clearances – 4
Interceptions – 2
Blocks – 0
Aerial duels won – 0/0
For a while, Jones and Smalling looked an instant improvement on Bailly and Lindelof. In the first half both added stability to United’s back line, with Smalling immaculate in the air and producing a couple of key tackles. Herrera’s presence alongside them helped, as well, as they contained Spurs’ attacking threat.
However, a second-half collapse saw Jones at fault for two goals in two minutes, then taken off for an injury, before Smalling – who had a good game otherwise – was beaten for Spurs’ third.
The lack of concentration from Manchester United's centre backs (apart from Smalling tonight) has been nothing short of embarrassing. Genuinely shocking.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) August 27, 2018
Both defenders had solid first halves, with Smalling in particular putting in some excellent tackles. He looked assured during the first 45 minutes, as did Jones, as they kept Tottenham at bay.
Spurs barely had a sniff in the first half, largely because of United’s dominance in midfield but also because Smalling and Jones were resolute whenever their opponents threatened. It made the second-half collapse all the more painful to watch.
Jones was at fault for Spurs’ first goal, losing Harry Kane and giving him just enough space to plant a perfect header into the corner. The floodgates opened from there. He was partially at fault again a minute later, caught out of position as Spurs broke, leaving his defence at sixes and sevens to allow Lucas Moura to score.
Smalling actually had a good game overall, showing application that his fellow defenders lacked, but lost a one-on-one duel for Spurs’ third.
First time MUFC have conceded seven or more goals in the opening three league games for 49 years.— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) August 27, 2018
A good first half can’t make up for what transpired after the break, when Jones essentially cost United the game with two mistakes in two minutes. Making it more painful was the way Smalling was beaten for Spurs’ third.
The duo knew they were expected to be an improvement on Bailly and Lindelof, and for the first 45 minutes they seemed like they were. Ultimately, however, they showed how bare United’s defensive cupboard is.
RATING – 3/10