“It’s United’s worst start for 27 years!” shrieked one UK tabloid yesterday. “Blimey, that sounds horrific,” I briefly muttered to myself, before remembering what season they were referring to: 1992/93.
Ah yes, what an awful harbinger this month is, then, if it promises to bring forth anotherseason like that one.
Yes, dear reader, you do detect an acid drop of sarcasm there, although I’m not denying that Saturday lunchtime at Southampton was craptacular.
Solskjaer was being either delusional or deceitful when he talked up United’s display afterwards; I hope it’s the latter, or we’re heading into Moyesland territory here.
By which I mean that dreaded phrase “out of his depth”.
Not that I think Ole is in that category. Well, not yet anyway.
One thing we learned back in 1992 was to wait ‘n’ see. I have vivid memories of it, because it was the month I began what some may laughingly refer to as my ‘career’, preparing what would be my firstarticle (RIP).
United appeared to have missed the boat that autumn. We’d blown the previous season’s league and were playing some dreadful football.
Worse, it was increasingly unsuccessful football; we were en route to losing at home to thuggish trash like Wimbledon.
No-one could see where inspiration might come from; we were even desperate enough to consider David Hirst as a possible transfer market saviour.
**Royal trumpet fanfare** — then entered King Eric, and the rest is history. My point being?
That one of football’s glories is you never know what’s around the corner, despite all the soothsaying idiots trying to ‘call’ titles by Christmas, and claiming United are ‘doomed’ to whatever fate they’ve just invented in their puny minds.
A new arrival, or a hitherto overlooked player bursting into flower, or a fresh tactical combination that explodes into life...we’ve seen all these things many a time at Old Trafford and they usually happen by accident rather than design.
Aside from Cantona 1992, Yorke and Cole coming together in November 1998 is a classic case in point; something that was never meant to be, virtually forced upon the manager, and creating instant treble-winning magic.
Oh, how United could have done with just a scintilla of that duo’s offensive wonderstuff on Saturday, as the team laboured for over 20 minutes against 10 men, to no avail.
Poor Ole has gone from a man who couldn’t stop winning until the day he was appointed to a haunted figure whose team can’t even get three points from such a figurative open goal.
“He’s ageing faster than Theresa May,” quipped one colleague about the ex-Peter Pan. Be fair, mate: he’s actually got a good chance of taking United out of Europe. Erm, hang on...
Some Reds have gone further and started muttering about Ole’s essential (un?)suitability, and certainly his game management was iffier than ever at St Mary’s.
But the majority can see straws to cling to, such as his good purchases, as best exemplified by Dan James. He’s the one unarguable success of the season so far, of whom, let’s be honest, many Reds had barely heard.
One shudders to think where the team would be without him; he has had a Gordon Hill-like impact in flamboyantly scoring from the flanks and, like Merlin, is acceptably cocky and tolerably handsome without tumbling into full-on Pobgean arrogance or Beckhamesque narcissism.
Gah; I had promised not to mention the seemingly sulking alleged wantaway, but what on earth was that performance? I heard he gave the ball away 20 times, a tally it would’ve taken Roy Keane months to match.
The other supposed superstar who spent the summer being flirted with by Iberians, namely Marcus Rashford, was even worse.
He has acted as if he did us a favour by agreeing to stay on this leaking ship but one does wonder who’s currently doing whom a service, because his woefully incompetent form hasn’t justified his apparently automatic place.
You can make out a consensus developing; the older and ancien-régime players lose popularity and justification for existence by the day, whereas the newbies and kids are giving Reds some hope.
Gomes and Greenwood are often cited as lads we want to see more of, and Ole has promised to keep faith with youth.
Come the next window, we’ll find out if he’s sticking to that.
If we must endure yet another couple of transitional rebuild seasons, then let’s endure them for good cause.