Terrace Talk: False dawn or a vision of the future?

"Blimey. We almost beat the European champions in a game 90% of us had presumed would be heavily lost. And so now, please hold me back, lads."

Terrace Talk: False dawn or a vision of the future?

"Blimey. We almost beat the European champions in a game 90% of us had presumed would be heavily lost. And so now, please hold me back, lads. The temptation is almost overwhelming. I can see the well-thumbed columnar template on the figurative bookshelf, calling me, teasing me. Its title says it all: 'IS THIS THE TURNING POINT?!?'"

Lord knows how many of those I have written in these long dark years since Fergie left us. It's always the same shtick; an unexpectedly good result in a crucial game against hated rivals potentially promises to bring an end to months of slumpery. Everyone gets giddy, has two bottles too many and, before you know it, we're thinking about future title challenges. Then fast forward a week, and you're back to square one after losing to Norwich. Ahem.

False dawns under Van Gaal and Mourinho came and went, and eventually stopped promising altogether. Ole is 'one of us', so the desperation amongst Reds for him to be able to turn all this around is overpowering. The merest flicker of a possible sunrise is thus heralded by all. We cannot wait to rechristen Salford as Heliopolis.

Equally, how much we would like to believe all Ed Woodward's words this past week about 'culture reboots', 'synching with the vision', and 'strategic teleological outsource indicators'.

Alright, I made that last one up, but Ed's certainly been a busy jargon-spouting suit this past fortnight. Journo briefings-a-go, speeches to the United staff, an interview with a friendly fanzine...anyone might suspect someone has been feeling under pressure.

Lest he forget his current poll rating, a banner-pulling plane over Old Trafford helpfully reminded him yesterday, accompanied by a protest march in the streets outside. Fairplay to all those involved for making the effort, but all this will be water off the duck's back now. Ed has become used to paddling manically in swampy waters, trying to keep his head above the line, forging ahead to reach the bank. The man may be a joke, and a hate figure, but you can't fault his determination.

He will no doubt have shared the general sense of relief last night but can we truly read much into yesterday's actual football? Liverpool were curiously poor, whereas we played just about as well as this bunch can be expected to do at the moment.

Rashford finally produced a decent display, without which we'd have been sunk. Best of all was the only player I feel obliged to praise almost every week, Dan James, who stands as the defiant answer to those who question Ole's judgement in general. Indeed, all the Solskjaer summer buys have done relatively well, at a club that had become distressingly accustomed to seeing newbies flop.

Ed Woodward was very keen to assert to his recent interlocutors that 'non-football' people (i.e. him) don't have input into those buying decisions, although he should surely have added the word 'anymore'. He is at least smart enough to understand that his own alleged behaviour during past transfer windows has become a PR problem, and that he needs to start distancing himself from footballing issues. He knows he is on safer ground when defending his record as a man who is simply there to increase turnover, not interfere in the selection of horseflesh.

Of course, if you believe some press reports, Ed won't be a problem we have to talk about for much longer. As I flagged up a few weeks ago, the 'Saudi United?' tale is back in town, sparked by the share sale by one of the Glazer clan.

I have to say that I have not heard anything to back up this latest iteration from any of my MidEast men, and I note Ed has been talking up the Glazers' supposed "long term interest" yet again.

Yes, there are days when the idea of having people in charge who bring ruthlessness to a whole new level does appeal. Paul Pogba would not last the winter, for starters. But today is not one of those days. For once, we can say 'well done United'; they haven't ruined our Monday morning. False dawn or not..."

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox