Remember the summer, when the league fixtures came out, and how these past five weeks looked through your prospect-finder?
“A nice bit of calm sailing after the early storm,” you’d have been forgiven for thinking. Sure, we knew it’d be hail ‘n’ hurricanes against Chelsea, City and Liverpool but, with due respect to our recent opponents, we were entitled to expect respite against the likes of WBA, Palace, Stoke and Sunderland. Instead, it’s been like rounding the Cape of Good Hope, each of these “routine” games taking on the air of a make-or-break semi-final, full of hurtling and huzzahs.
No huzzah bigger than the third goal on Saturday, greeted by a din the likes of which one hasn’t heard too often at Old Trafford in recent years.
You get a sense of living through historic moments at present, days that will go down in the O.T. annals as The Testing Of The Chosen One, whether the ending proves to be happy or sad.
It may not be very good; it may not be very pretty; but, by God, it’s very exciting.
The Chosen One’s chooser, i.e. Fergie, was up in the gods himself on Saturday, and fleetingly captured by cameras on the edge of his seat, looking red-faced, agitated, and ready to rumble.
We were 1-2 down at the time, and a colleague mused that he didn’t look like a man who’d happily given it all up and moved on. Just for a second, as United continued to labour in front of increasingly terror-stricken fans, I fancied we saw the ghost of Wilf floating by, moaning softly “1970, boys, 1970”.
Wilf McGuinness isn’t actually dead, I’m pleased to confirm, but there are still those who remain convinced that it wouldn’t take much to persuade Ferguson to take some office space in Carrington and offer a ‘wee helping hand’ to his struggling protégé, of the sort Matt Busby used to offer young Wilf.
Hernandez’s winner may go down in history as a tide-turner but weren’t we all saying that about Adnan’s on Wearside just the other week?
Fulham this weekend could witness another one, indeed. We’re living match-to-match, hand-to-mouth, week-by-week: it’s like being on football’s equivalent of the dole.
United have been all over the place. Moyes has been trying things on in dizzying succession like a desperate Top Shop girl 10 minutes from Friday night closing time. Is there any sign of a pattern emerging? Perhaps. Moyes has picked more heartening line-ups than discouraging ones; his activist substitutions have, on balance, done more good than harm. Moreover, I am told Rooney and RVP buried any differences they may have had and that ‘Dithering Dave’ is rapidly coming to some certain conclusions about the calibre of the squad individuals at his disposal.
I fear we’re not going to like all of them, mind: one beloved defender, for example, appears to be in danger of the black spot at the moment.
Ship’s log signing off. We just need some breathing space, and to get to the port of the next transfer window. Moyes may be no Fergie — who is, after all? — but surely even he can keep this rocky ship afloat until then?