Here’s a line you can guarantee wasn’t spoken in the nervous United dressing room before kick-off yesterday: “Great news, lads! Guess who’s the telly pundit for our match today? Roy Keane!”
The increasingly Old Testament prophet-like legend duly delivered several volleys of fire and brimstone in his analysis, almost all of which were warranted.
Some Reds do mutter that Roy may be too bitter to be a reliable paid United observer but, frankly, I’d even pay him to go into the dressing room after some matches and bounce them around the walls.
Nevertheless, despite yesterday being quite sensationally awful at times, I daresay a couple of excuses and some minor mitigation could be found by the charitable. Firstly, United do have a genuine ‘injury crisis’, which left the threadbare team sheet begging to be battered.
Moreover, it is not the players’ fault that their bosses had under performed in the last two windows, leaving the squad short and shallow. As I argued last week, United surely need further reinforcements in both the creative and striking departments, a judgment seemingly confirmed by United’s dismal shot tally in London.
Finally, perhaps the haters should remember that it is not Matic and Mata’s fault that they are past their best; neither could be accused of not giving 100%, which is not something you can say of all the United squad midfielders.
All that said, no Red can look at the record of Ole’s United since he got the permanent nod and be anything but worried. The brutal truth is that more and more fans are beginning to think his basic competence may be at issue, however much we would all prefer to blame Woodward and/or the Glazers. ‘#OleOut’ trending on Twitter may chiefly be the work of the pantwetting community but that doesn’t mean their analysis is necessarily wrong.
Naturally, the weekend’s events now add another couple of kilos to poor Ole’s shoulders and...oh dear. Did you spot that, reader? Without thinking, I landed Ole with the dreaded prefix ‘poor’, the word that became an integral part of one of his predecessors’ name viz ‘Poor David’ Moyes.
That won’t happen again (at least, I hope not). We have not reached that pathetic 2014 situation yet, although a couple of UK papers have printed whispers about Woodward keeping tabs on the PSG boss. ‘Just in case’, you dig?
I can at least tell you that the French language source of those tales is actually ludicrously flimsy; a tiny piece in a second division Parisian outlet that was full of unreliable French conditional tenses, and which also mentioned several other clubs. File under ‘ignore’.
United need to reacquire some mojo fast, as we have a hugely difficult game coming up at Old Trafford against hated historic rivals. Yes, Rochdale arrive on Wednesday for the League Cup...
Alright, I meant Arsenal next weekend, but let’s be clear - that Rochdale game looks like a nasty potential beartrap from this miserable post-West Ham vantage point.
Looming not too far ahead thereafter is Liverpool, a doom-threatening diary date currently ringed with poison symbols and tombstones. One can only be thankful to the fixture computer that these two Top Four opponent games are at Old Trafford; imagine them being away matches in our current state of mind and condition. *Shudder.*
And what is the state of mind in the stands? Well, one Red Issue website punter glumly opined last night that United were now back where they were in October 1986, and that all Fergie’s legacy had been squandered. My old colleague Jay called United “a stricken oil tanker with an owner who keeps drilling holes in the hull. Just telling the Captain he’s got six months to turn it around or he’s getting chucked overboard isn’t going to work.”