Children of a certain age always end up asking one day ‘what is the Watford Gap, daddy?’ Yesterday, you might have suggested it was the chasm in the earth De Gea wished would open up after yet another of his blunders.
I say ‘yet another’ slightly over-emphatically: It’s not as though he does this every match.
But coming after his pansying about last weekend, when he should never have allowed himself to be so easily fouled, and a few other goal-causing slips this season, you can see why some have started muttering the dread phrase ‘dodgy keeper’.
Despite the blip he remains one of the greatest shotstoppers in Europe, and a player worth fighting hard to keep — despite his previous (and perhaps continued?) status as a wantaway.
But he’s just one more worry to add to a team full of them.
I’m not going to dwell on yesterday’s football; there’s a match report and analysis elsewhere in this paper, and I’m not having my yuletide week mood spoiled any further by thinking about that bunch of naughties and their on-pitch misdemeanours.
Simply put — once again United players let us all down; once again they proved incapable of dealing with the poor teams of the division; once again, they’ve left a manager formerly renowned for his eternally youthful features looking as haggard as Santa at the end of his long night’s work.
They should be deprived of presents, and given gruel for their lunch on Wednesday.
Ah yes, ‘tis the season of goodwill to all men, bar underperforming United stars — and it’s also party season.
The players are out and about a lot, and perhaps getting too loose-lipped? Was it whispering at one of their functions last week that led to rumours some believed Pogba might soon be on his way?
‘Hurrah!’ you might think; but not so fast. No sooner had this chatter leaked out than the club and the player’s agent went into overdrive, with both sides making a great show of their commitment to the idea of the player remaining.
Sticking him half-fit on the bus to Watford was the final act in this performance, and very impressive a display it all was.
But what is the truth of it all? I’m not sure even the player can be sure, to be fair. All I do know is that it’s a rum state of affairs when some of your own team-mates and staffers have come to think you’re history.
Pogba is now routinely referred to by some fans as a “cancer” within the club; what a stark contrast with Ole’s effusions about the “great lad”.
There’s a general lack of confidence in the way United are handling the Pogba issue; most of us assume it’ll end up with Woodward getting outfoxed and humiliated, and United getting the runaround.
But chin up, folks. The window is about to open, the presents will be arriving, and we all know what a great performer in the transfer market Woodward is — right, kids? Er, kids?
The coming of Haaland has now been written about so often that it’s going to come as a crushing disappointment to most Reds if he doesn’t actually arrive. Less expected would be long-term target Sancho, for whom we have been in pole position for so long, but over whom we now face serious competition.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It could be ‘Crisis Christmas’ for United yet, as Newcastle arrive on Thursday, piloted by one of Ole’s old captains.
You can imagine the extent to which the fire will be in Bruce’s belly for this one, and he’s clearly every reason to be confident, with his side level pegging in the table and looking solid at the back.
Sigh. What will be our excuse this time if United turn turkey again? Newcastle not a good enough side to bring out the best in us?
Or too well-organised for our monthly-millionaires breakdown? Perhaps it’ll be someone’s turn to have ‘off-field issues’? Or a likkle tummy ache after too much Crimbo pud? (If that last one gets an airing, bet you it’ll be Luke Shaw.)
See you here the day after St Stephen’s to dissect the leftovers. Merry Christmas to one and all, and try not to start angrily defacing those Man United calendars you’re about to unwrap if we lose again.
Just like Ole, they’ve somehow got to last the season.