It was a different red shirt Alexis Sanchez was wearing but an all-too familiar feeling for the new Manchester United signing on Wednesday.
He may have waved goodbye to Arsenal’s inconsistencies, but the Red Devils’ 2-0 defeat at Tottenham was riven with all the problems the Chilean must have he had left behind at Emirates Stadium.
On Sanchez’s Premier League debut for the club, United were abject. From the first whistle to the last they were second best, save for a short period in the first half when the new signing was at his most influential.
United, just like Arsenal so often during his three-and-a-half year spell in north London, left countless gaps for their opponents to exploit and turned in a calamitous defensive showing punctuated by individual error upon individual error.
United’s approach was certainly not helped by the concession of a goal inside 10-and-a-half seconds. From the kick-off, Phil Jones failed to win a long ball in the air and, with Chris Smalling failing to react, Christian Eriksen was allowed to ghost into the box untracked by Ashley Young before firing crisply beyond David de Gea.
For the 10 minutes or so which followed, it appeared more than possible that United would work their way back into the game.
With Sanchez prevalent and Romelu Lukaku looking hungry, they had Spurs back-pedalling regularly in a bid to immediately peg back the deficit. Yet that initial surge died a very speedy death and for the remainder of the game it was really just a question of how many goals Spurs would win by.
United’s night was summed up perfectly by the second goal, with Kieran Trippier whipping a cross in towards the near post which somehow caught Phil Jones off balance. The England centre-back went at the ball with his wrong foot and sent it flying past De Gea.
For Sanchez, it was a 90-minute struggle. Having started on the left he was unable to do enough to justify the redeployment of Anthony Martial to the right-hand side.
But even after a half-time switch which saw Sanchez moved to the centre and the Frenchman reverted back to his favoured left, United just couldn’t give their forward line the quality of possession they craved.
Too often, Spurs had extra numbers in the United half, and the visitors were always chasing the game as a result.
The second-half madness which saw Paul Pogba replaced in a tactical switch for the first time in a Manchester United shirt only for his replacement, Marouane Fellaini, to be then hauled off within eight minutes in favour of Ander Herrera only served to underline just how badly the night had gone for Jose Mourinho and his side.
Spurs looked better prepared, more confident, and more in tune with each other as a team than United did at any point in the game. It is an assessment we have so often seen of Arsenal in the last three-and-a-half years, but this was not the way Sanchez was hoping to be made to feel at home.
United will doubtless have better days with Sanchez in their side, and his transfer does not become a bad one on the back of one result alone. But this was a reminder that the transformation of Manchester United is still some way from completion.
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