Ange spoils United’s big day as makeshift Spurs fight to draw as new Old Trafford owners settle in


Sitting beside Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box at Old Trafford, Sir Jim Ratcliffe took in a Manchester United game in person for the first time since agreeing a deal to buy a quarter stake in the boyhood club he hopes to restore as a major power.

But if he wasn’t aware already, the rebuilding job is going to take some time.

A 2-2 draw against Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday (Monday AEDT) underlined the current state of United — a team capable of stunning isolated passages of play but, in general, a ragged outfit often outplayed by their rivals.

United’s goals, scored by Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford, were things of beauty at the start and end of the first half.

In-between, the marking was poor at a corner to allow Richarlison to glance in a header and Tottenham’s equaliser — scored barely 50 seconds into the second half — also exposed defensive flaws as Rodrigo Bentancur was allowed to wander into United’s area before unleashing a fierce shot past Andre Onana.

The result left United in seventh place and eight points off the top five, from where England’s Champions League entrants for next season will come.

Spurs are among them — in fifth — after an encouraging display for Postecoglou with his team still missing a clutch of key players — like James Maddison, Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma — whose return could yet help them qualify for Europe’s top competition.

The Australia will have been happy with what he saw from new loan signing Timo Werner, who laid on the goal for Bentancur on his debut.

Spurs put three passes together and Rodrigo Bentancur equalises just 50 seconds into the second half ????️

Timo Werner bags his first assist in his first match for Spurs.


— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) January 14, 2024

Ratcliffe, the owner of petrochemicals giant INEOS, agreed last month to buy a minority stake in United and will take charge of United’s soccer operations. 

The deal was worth $US1.3 billion ($A1.9 billion) for “up to 25 pr cent” of the club and will see him invest a further $US300 million ($A449 million) in the Old Trafford stadium.

The deal requires Premier League approval, which Ratcliffe said on Sunday he expects to come next month.

“I have done a few exciting things,” the British billionaire told media before kickoff, “but this caps it all. There’s no question about that.”

Timo Werner made his debut for Tottenham and laid on the goal by Bentancur.

Earlier, Aston Villa’s players had headed to Everton, seeking a win to move level on points with league leaders Liverpool, the team from just across Stanley Park – but they missed their opportunity with a dismal 0-0 draw at Goodison Park.

Still, it was a solid result for Villa, keeping them two points behind Liverpool and still level on points with second-placed champions, Manchester City.

Set back by a 10-point penalty at the end of last year for financial mismanagement, Everton restored their one-point cushion above the bottom three.

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