By the end it had turned into a deeply chastening experience for Manchester United and not just because of the mere fact that for long spells Tottenham Hotspur outplayed, out-thought and out-fought them. That was one thing, but this defeat for José Mourinho’s team contained so many different subplots it was difficult to think of a more eccentric occasion under his management.
It was certainly difficult to make sense of a night on which Mourinho brought on Marouane Fellaini as a 63rd-minute substitute and then hooked him seven minutes later, with Ander Herrera coming on instead. Mourinho gave Fellaini a semi-apologetic hug and later said the midfielder had been injured but it was still a striking moment on a night when United’s indecision on the pitch extended to their manager. Paul Pogba, the most expensive player in England, was substituted with almost half an hour to go and, ultimately, United never recovered from a diabolical first half in which Phil Jones scored a comical own goal and Christian Eriksen gave this thrilling, vibrant Spurs side the lead inside 11 seconds.