Terrace Talk: Man United - Brace yourself for make-or-break week

I’m not sure there’s much point in us gathering here today to celebrate what was arguably United’s most enjoyable performance of the season...

Terrace Talk: Man United - Brace yourself for make-or-break week

After all, judging by what we’ve all experienced via the media this past fortnight, the Messiah Klopp will shortly be hoovering up every possible trophy for the next few years, rendering all our efforts futile. ‘The Normal One’ may even find time to bring world peace and cure all human ailments.

Still, let us bravely soldier on regardless, and first pause to salute the magnificence of Herrera, whose generalship was the key to Saturday’s victory.

Regular readers of this column will perhaps have grown weary of the weekly fêting of Herrera and Mata here. You may mutter that you haven’t seen so much male gushing over a Hispanic pair since Salma Hayek first appeared topless.

However, the evidence was plain to see for all, as the little matador effortlessly conducted proceedings, making us all wish to grab LVG — ‘The Abnormal One’? — by the lapels and bellow: “Y’see? Y’see? Start him every week, you blithering buffoon!”

Also, did you notice the telling scene wherein Herrera appeared to be the one giving the instructions and encouragement to substitute Lindgard, while Rooney looked on? Did you fancy that you noticed a little black cloud hovering over the Scouser’s head? Wayne is, after all, supposed to be the captain. But once again, the captain’s performance was woefully inadequate almost all afternoon. Yes, he did manage to score, but then so does Fellaini from time to time. So what? If we had one other complaint, it was having to witness Martial being forced out wide, which strikes most of us as a waste, however enjoyable it may have been to see him give Coleman a rogering he’ll never forget. The Everton back was once close to a move to Old Trafford: I think we can all be relieved it didn’t come off, not least given Rojo’s surprisingly effective display.

So again in this LVG era of roller-coasterism, it’s a case of “with one bound, he was free”. One doesn’t like to think what this week would have looked like had we entered it coming off the back of another defeat. City loom on Sunday, a date that has been heavily circled on all our calendars since the summer, but Moscow midweek rightly concentrates the mind for now, given our slightly precarious group position and general unreliability.

Exactly six years ago, we went to CSKA in very similar circumstances, having also just beaten Wolfsburg at Old Trafford, and with a massive Premiership match to come back to — in 2009’s case, Liverpool away. We won in Moscow with a Valencia goal, but lost at Anfield the following weekend. At least this time we take on City at home, but let’s not minimise the task ahead of us this week: It’s not too hyperbolic to suggest that it has a make-or-break air about it, at least in terms of 2016 top trophy prospects.

LVG has gone on record to claim that the league is his priority over the European Cup, though one does wonder whether he means it. Substituting Mata at halftime was briefed as being ‘tactical’, but many of us suspected it was more a case of preserving the energy of a key European asset for Wednesday. United do have players now who seem especially suited to the Continental game: Martial, Schweinsteiger, the Spanish sweethearts and Darmian are all players who, for different reasons, one might expect to be even more impressive in Europe than in the domestic league.

Get past Wednesday, and you do wonder whether United might just surprise a few people in Europe this season — assuming LVG gets his tactical act together in time. But as Napoleon, Adolf and various other Europeans as bigheaded as Louis would ruefully attest, “getting past Moscow” is not something one should ever take for granted...”

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