So, well done Ashley, who was also United’s man of the match in many Red eyes.
“When you’ve won the Premier League, let me know” also happens to be what many of us would have liked to say to Pochettino, too. The hype about the cute media-darling Spurs boss had been both deafening and nauseating in the run-up to the Old Trafford clash, but most Reds I know were pretty confident about United’s chances... well, once they’d heard about Kane’s injury, that is.
So, José got to put a finger to the lips, and then smirkingly chatter “calm down, calm down” in the postmatch tunnel, like a Scouser at a closing-time ruck. He might be excused, given all the pressure applied to him since the defeat at Huddersfield. He has successfully directed two properly efficient performances since that embarrassing afternoon and is entitled to crow a bit. United were not pretty on Saturday, and nor was the match, but the first true test of the season has been passed. After a fashion, anyway. At least United players showed full commitment, something that had been so sorely lacking in West Yorkshire a week earlier.
If you want to look for it, there’s still plenty to quietly moan about, of course. Valencia is bordering on being a liability in defence; Mikhi is simply not right, and arguably being misused; “flat-track bully” Lukaku’s touch has been looking poor, goal layoff notwithstanding; and Herrera continues to aggravate, to put it mildly.
Let’s just pause there a moment. Has any player fallen so far in general estimation over the past two seasons as Herrera? I plead guilty to being one of many who clearly giddily over-rated him when he first arrived, so desperate were we at the time for something fresh and energetic. But he now clearly joins Carrick and Mata in a trio that is heading for the summer with a question mark over its collective head.
To be replaced by...? Over atmagazine, old comrades assert that a deal has been done to bring Soler from Spain. There’s also the Ozil question, widely asked in the papers for a month now. Sources in Iberia tell me José does not rule him out, but, thus far, there’s been no move from United. Also, he’d have to be on a free. I’m also told by sources closer to home that Shaw continues to be badmouthed, hence the recent mentions of Rose and/or Tierney, nominations I am assured are well-founded.
Rather more spicey out of the Iberian peninsula is this bit of juicy goss: Chelsea- connected “intermediaries” have been putting feelers out across the continent re potential post-Conte bosses, following weeks of whispers about internal aggro at The Bridge. So, we head towards next weekend’s showdown with José’s old club upon the most unexpected thought: That José may be more secure in his position than his successor. Not something we would have predicted amid all the Conte-hysteria a few months ago.
I suppose that’s where we came in today: London club bosses being overhyped by over-excitable London media fanboys. Twas ever thus, many Northerners would say.
Before we get the chance to send more southerners into despair next weekend, we have the small matter of Benfica’s visit tomorrow night. We expect — well, demand — better than the display the team gave in Lisbon, but the same ultimate result, as United have had their kick-up-the-complacent-arse, courtesy of Huddersfield; they should surely not need another?