Against Leicester City on Sunday, Manchester United produced their worst performance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s short stewardship.
In the second half, Leicester missed a series of chances that would have given them the point that they at least merited on the balance of play.
But Manchester United found a way. If winning while playing badly is the sign of a team in rude health, they managed it too infrequently during Jose Mourinho’s final months in charge.
Another reason for Solskjaer to keep the job beyond the end of the season is scratched off the list.
Having taken over with United 11 points from the top four, the gap is now two.
Most instructive about United’s victory was that Paul Pogba was their best player at a time of diversity.
The accusation is that the Frenchman has been a sunshine player in England, impressing when all is well but generally lacking the gumption to drag his team on as the best midfielders must do.
This was a different Pogba, protecting the ball in the final 15 minutes and urging calm in those around him.
It is the Pogba we remember from Juventus and know from the French national team.
And if Solskjaer can continue to get the best out of him, United really must stick with him.
Everton’s attempt to break into the top six will take some time, but Marco Silva was appointed as the man to lead them there.
Silva has forged a reputation as a short-termist manager, but was recruited for this long-term project.
There are already Evertonians who believe they have been sold a pup. Everton are as defensively fragile as they were under Roberto Martinez, but the lack of organisation at set pieces is the most worrying aspect of their fragility.
Silva’s teams (Hull City, Watford, Everton) have conceded 33 goals from set-piece situations in his 47 Premier League matches in charge.
That’s the highest in the division over that period. Silva cannot claim underinvestment.
There are ten players in Everton’s firstteam squad who cost £20m (€23m) or more, and you can add marquee loan signings Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma.
Farhad Moshiri has the wealth to atone for several expensive failures. The pertinent question is how much patience he has in his manager.
Being outplayed by Wolves at Goodison is not a strong look.
Huddersfield are not yet mathematically relegated, but they are sinking without trace.
David Wagner decided he could not take the club further forward and was in desperate need of a sabbatical.
In appointing Jan Siewert, Huddersfield have attempted to replicate the same model. It will not be easy.
Siewert’s first task is to try and find a win from anywhere.
They have taken one point from a possible 36 since beating Wolves in November, and look desperately easy to defeat.
Their total of 11 points is the same as Derby County’s record low total, and current evidence suggests they will not surpass it by much.
With relegation effectively confirmed at the time of Siewert’s appointment, the new manager has presumably been given a free pass until the summer and challenged to rebuild and secure immediate
promotion back to the top flight.
But a long run of demoralising losses only makes that task harder. There are few managers who would envy Siewert’s situation.
Tottenham Hotspur, the kings of grinding it out. No Premier League club has won more points in the last ten minutes of matches this season.
Last week they came from behind to beat Watford just as supporters were losing faith.
This weekend they squeezed past Newcastle in similar circumstances. On both occasions, Heung-Min Son was the saviour.
Were Harry Kane and Dele Alli fit, Mauricio Pochettino would have given Son a well deserved rest following his Asian Cup exploits.
Instead, he has travelled thousands of miles and played through the effects of fatigue. Not only that, he has led Spurs in the clutch moments of crucial matches.
If we are discussing players that have made the biggest difference to their club’s prospects this season, Son deserves a passing mention.
Not only has he scored or assisted 13 league goals in his last ten league games, he has peaked at exactly the time when Tottenham needed him most.
Neil Warnock is not a man who you suspect is prone to outpourings of emotion.
He is emphatically part of the old school, with stiff upper lip displayed as standard.
Neil Warnock said he just wanted to get to the end of the game today...— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 2, 2019
And there was a pure release of emotion when that moment came 💙 pic.twitter.com/FjX2NX6IFy
Warnock has sculpted his entire managerial ethos around gruffness and grit.
But these are exceptional times at Cardiff City. Before kick-off, the club paid an extraordinarily moving tribute to Emiliano Sala, the record signing who they never got to see play.
After the full-time whistle, Warnock broke down in tears as he circled the pitch to thank supporters for their role in the tributes and their dignity over the last fortnight.
This tragedy has deeply affected Warnock, who met Sala on several occasions and feels partly responsible — misguidedly — for what happened somewhere over the English Channel.
This was Warnock breaking down, allowing grief, guilt, sorrow, and pride to pour out unabated.
That release, in front of thousands of people, is not a sign of weakness but strength.