Ole Gunnar Solksjaer may well experience first-hand tonight the gulf in class that currently exists between his Manchester United side and their treble-chasing neighbours but, regardless of the result, the club’s new manager is already searingly honest in his appraisal of their standing in the English game.
It is part of Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s much-vaunted “DNA” for the club to do everything with a healthy pinch of drama and, based on the way his 10 men toiled in defeat at Molineux last night, the chase for the Champions League this season will be no different.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought he had written the biggest moment in Manchester United’s European history when he scored the winning goal in the 1999 final, Marcus Rashford wrote one that may prove to be every bit as significant in the 93rd minute of an astonishing last 16 tie in Paris last night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s magical reign as Manchester United boss survived its biggest test to date at St James’ Park last night, his second- half substitute Romelu Lukaku scoring with his first touch of the game and helping to write his interim manager into the record books.
Antonio Conte left Wembley with another piece of silverware and the love of the Chelsea faithful ringing in his ears on Saturday, the self-proclaimed “serial winner” who wore the look of a man who knows he is about to move on.
Pep Guardiola has clearly won his private, and long-standing, feud with Jose Mourinho for this season at least but, to listen to beaten manager Carlos Carvalhal on Saturday, the all-conquering Catalan should make the most of his current dominance.
Manchester United were unable to match the intensity shown during Jose Mourinho's extraordinary pre-match press conference, but headers from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic saw them through to the FA Cup semi-finals at Brighton's expense.
At 1.93m tall, and with shoulders that could carry a nation, it’s not that difficult to imagine Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy as a nightclub bouncer keeping Manchester United out of his penalty area in the FA Cup at Old Trafford tomorrow; and it’s an image he is perfectly happy to embrace.
I support United at football, France at rugby and, naturally, adopt a ‘Friend Of Ireland’ default position in all your island’s endeavours. (Yes, even over Brexit). So a day that saw France win Le Crunch, United beat the Scouse, and Ireland lift the Six Nations was always going to challenge my temperance resolution.
Antonio Conte may have seen his long-running feud with Jose Mourinho come to an end at Old Trafford but it may also have been the afternoon when the Chelsea manager saw his team’s hopes of a Champions League place similarly disappear into thin air.
Kevin Long is the only Corkman in the Ireland squad to grace the Premier League this season, but his journey from the Connolly Road to Turner’s Cross, and further afield to Burnley’s Turf Moor, has taken in a multitude of highs and lows.