When Manchester City lost to Wolves the other week, a colleague groaned “only the outbreak of World War Three could stop Liverpool now”. Well, we almost got what we wished for last week, thanks to Top Red Donald Trump.
But despite his best efforts in Iraq, we’re all still here — and next weekend Poor Ole will take this flimsy and injury-ridden United squad to Anfield. Gulp.
Images of innocent lambs being led to the abattoir spring to mind. And we all remember what happened to Jose Mourinho at LFC’s hands. Despite Saturday’s romp against Norwich, no-one is under any illusions.
Let’s be clear: the Canaries were perhaps the worst team seen at Old Trafford in two years. Even OAP Juan Mata was able to last a full game against them, and create two goals while he was at it.
Not that we are complaining about the United display, one hastens to add. Remembering our struggle against the similarly awful and lowly Watford, we were all grateful for the carefree and relatively zesty afternoon.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t nearly enough to erase the memory of the previous Tuesday, of course. Last week, I bemoaned the fact that we “never know which United is going to turn up” from match to match.
What an illustration thereof we have had this past week; from the clueless chumps hitting a post-2013 low on Tuesday, to the cheerful cherubs knocking it about with gay abandon on Saturday.
Pause here, if we may, to doff the columnar cap yet again to Mason Greenwood, this scribe’s platonic heartthrob, whose exhibition of precision shooting for his Saturday goal was even more exaggeratedly cool than usual. He didn’t even need to hit it very hard, so well had he judged its flight.
The boy can see ten spare inches from twenty yards, and has the confidence to believe he will make it; I don’t know where you learn that sort of inner belief, but we need to send every player we’ve got there.
It’s probably too late for Jesse Lingard to make that trip, though; sources tell me United’s coaches have now given up on him. That’s about 12 months after than the rest of us, but better late than never.
But what about potential incomers?
My continental sources tell me Jimenez, Neves and Fernandes are all genuine interests, and that Sancho remains a long-term target.
But they also report that United have adopted a madcap scattergun approach to scouting and target acquistion this past couple of months; there is a sense that panic and expediency are in the driving seat, rather than considered strategy.
Similar sources also tell me that linkages between United and the king across the water, Pochettino, should not be dismissed, despite the repeated insistence by O.T. insiders to my snouts on Saturday that Woodward remains fully committed to Project Solskjaer.
I have even been provided with a list of what are purported to be Poch’s demands, should he ever be offered the job. One of United’s longest-serving correspondents, who has chosen to believe Woodward on the subject for now, nevertheless murmurs to me: “I can still see how, come the summer, Ed could find a way of ‘thanking Ole for his service on this project, but’...”
And someone else would then see The Solskjaer Plan to its conclusion.
Woodward and the Glazers were certainly being ‘thanked’ for their service by the Stretford End choristers in a very particular way on Saturday; it would appear they think Ed should be rewarded with a bonfire, for example. (But less toffee apples and parkin, more Joan of Arc.)
Ole later defended both SuperTed and the owners in front of the TV cameras in an unnecessarily emphatic way, which hardly endeared him to those already disappointed in him. He’s certainly come a long way from being the only player to back Shareholders United when it was fighting the Glazers in 2004/5.
Of course, Ole was right to say that we all need to “stick together” in the most general sense.
But if apocalypse strikes on Sunday, and if we’ve also been knocked out of the FA Cup midweek by Wolves, I suspect it’s going to need some pretty strong adhesive to keep this dog ‘n’ pony show on the straight ‘n’ narrow...