Happy new year, and let’s start as we are likely to go on in 2020; with black facetiousness.
Last week, you may have thought you read here that Ole could make this the beginning of a new Roaring Twenties.
That was, of course, a typo. Welcome, instead, to the Boring Twenties, wherein United’s forwards can easily go three hours without scoring, and 90 Molineux minutes without even troubling the target.
Flops instead of Flappers; bobs replaced by bobbins; and it still all ends in a great depression.
My comrade Jay, surveying the bewildering tactical mess on the Saturday night pitch, noted that there appeared to be least three ‘false nines’ in our formation, “which is apt, because that first half has made me want to call myself an ambulance.”
No-one appeared to know who was playing where; at various moments, even Mata found himself left holding the centre-forward hot potato, as though in a Yuletide parlour game, and I don’t know which of us looked the more surprised.
It was like a would-be Total Football plan, except run through duff Dutch translation software, and thus everyone ended up looking like Total Feckers.
And yet, as the Red hordes later descended onto social media for a night of howling aggro-posting, the Glazers would probably have been untroubled by renewed talk of ‘Ole being on the edge’.
Woodward insists he and Solskjaer are fixed on their plan for their long-term, and he almost certainly means it. (For now.)
Besides, see this weekend from the Glazerian stand.
United are still in one cup, having got a ‘good result’ at a place where United have struggled in recent years, and having done so with a weakened team.
In the other cup, they’re a step from a Wembley final. They are — incredibly — mere points from the Champions League places. And they’ve got an easy-looking Euro draw.
Above all, they also still sell out the ground for league matches, and continue to entice commercial deals from the world’s biggest Asian retailers, Alibaba being the latest and most striking example thereof.
Take even the one element that most infuriated Reds at the close of the game, when United players were blatantly timewasting to secure the draw instead of going for goal.
To fans, that was a wretched humiliation; but to a Glazer? It guaranteed a Brucey bonus, matey — an unexpected money-spinning replay, and an extra bag of millions straight onto the Floridian balance sheet. Such can be the divergence of footballing and financial interests.
All that said, fans will not put up with a lethal combination of boredom and lack of success for long, as Jose Mourinho discovered.
I wrote last week that many of us are prepared to cling to Unproven Ole because there’s a belief he ‘gets it’, in a way his predecessors didn’t.
But that belief does eventually have to be rewarded with some evidence it’s well-founded.
Without getting too theological about it, the concept of ‘the leap of faith’ does not work as effectively in football as it does in religion.
You sometimes have to go past your end of days in order to prove to yourself God exists, whereas many offootball’s would-be saints are decreed to be plaster during every end of May.
Getting plastered could be on the agenda as soon as tomorrow night, though, should United unexpectedly beat City in the semi-final first leg.
Given that United beat City at Wastelands just a few weeks ago, a repeat really ought not to have become such an unlikelihood in so short a time.
Yet that’s the effect engendered during the interim by these last two games, the miserable defeat at Watford, and the poor draw against Everton.
No-one ever knows which United will be turning up.