Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s reaction to an Aurier tackle will make your morning

While most footballers are not the type of people that need positive reinforcement from outside sources, it is always nice to receive endorsement from your peers. 

Tottenham‘s astonishing 6-1 win over a ramshackle Manchester United provided ample opportunity for such team-mate praise.

There was plenty worth shouting about – a brace for Harry Kane, another stellar performance from Son Heung-min and some admirable shithousery from Erik Lamela.

However, one performance that should not be forgotten was that of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

While there is no doubt he is a decent player, there were some that were baffled by Tottenham’s decision to pay a reported £15million to secure the midfielder’s services from Southampton this summer.

Thankfully, the Match of the Day pundits, who generally seemed to be in a trance throughout Sunday’s show, paid due attention to Hojbjerg’s impact.

On-screen graphics showed the Dane had the most touches (116), the most successful passes (100), the most passes in the opposition half (43) and the joint highest figure for possession gained (6). This demonstrates that, unlike some previous Spurs signings, Hojbjerg knows the difference between the holding role and a sausage roll.

His assist for Serge Aurier’s goal early in the second half could be used as the dictionary definition of pinpoint. Receiving the ball from Lucas Moura, Hojbjerg played an exquisite first-time ball that dissected the glaring gap between Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba. Such was the accuracy of the pass that Aurier could hardly fail to score.

But one moment stood above all others. During the second half, Aurier won the ball in his own half. This is not a newsworthy event in itself – even if the right-back normally takes to defending like a cat to water. However, after successfully regaining the ball, the Ivorian was going to make damn sure he kept it.

By out-stretching his arms as if keeping a child away from a traffic accident, Aurier was able to make a pass downfield. The reaction of Hojbjerg? An endearingly large fist-pump and a brief hand clap as the ball moved forward. You could imagine him reacting the same way when teaching his child to ride a bike.

For all the pundits who say Jose Mourinho is losing his touch, it is clear he has created the same siege mentality that has served him well throughout his decorated managerial career. Hojbjerg is the perfect example.

Hojbjerg’s performance at Old Trafford won rave reviews from Spurs fans on social media. And most seemed to centre around his leadership qualities as much as his technical ability, perhaps in the belief that the team were turning into the ‘bunch of c****’ that Mourinho craves.

Time will tell if Spurs can finally win a trophy under Mourinho’s tutelage. Whatever happens, it is clear that Hojbjerg is fast becoming the symbol of the new, tougher Tottenham that combine brawn and brain to overwhelm their opponents.

By Michael Lee

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