TERRACE TALK: Man United - League Cup offers opportunity for consolation

We don’t know whether Jose Mourinho keeps a cat for company in his lonely Lowry lodgings, but Tiddles would surely have needed to avoid his swinging boot last night.

Judging by the way our Portugeezer man o’war was angrily lashing out at anything in sight even before half-time, can you imagine the state he would have lathered himself up into by the time he got ‘home’?

Obviously, watching Reds didn’t exactly trip the light fantastic on the way back either. 

Perhaps we had allowed the clogging United gave Feyenoord on Thursday to cloud judgement, too easily ignoring the fact that the Dutch team’s performance was as poor as their so-called hooligans'. 

We had thought something had ‘clicked’, only to discover yesterday there are still pieces in the machine not functioning correctly.

The Doomlords will be out in force this morning, slavering over the points gap that is now markedly developing between United and the Champions League slots, and maybe daring to draw a few odious comparisons with the winter onsets endured under Poor David and Van Loony. 

Let them have their perverse fun; United made plenty of chances to bury West Ham yesterday and, as the cliché goes, on another day we might have scored four. 

Just as we did three days earlier, in fact.

Despite the overwhelming sentiment of a step backwards — the eminently beatable West Ham started the game one place above the relegation zone, after all — we can still cite one novel positive. 

The Armenian has finally emerged from what was threatening to be, in effect, the longest pre-season mollycoddling ever, and has now been able to show us some of the reasons for which we’ve bought him.

The players now have a perfect opportunity to make amends against the same opponents in the League Cup, which gives the midweek fixture the pleasing air of a piece of unsatisfactory homework needing to be repeated by a recalcitrant schoolboy. 

Or if you prefer, switching pet imagery from José’s cat, we’ll be seeing a bad dog of a team being forced to return to its vomit (Rub their snouts in it, Jose).

Let’s not forget a place in a semi-final is at stake, opening the pathway to a possible vision of Mourinho lifting silver at Wembley within a dozen weeks.

 Objectively such a short time away, yet one that subjectively feels such a long way off, as we sit here glumly contemplating the reality of one league win in seven.

Meanwhile, as you might expect, the ‘noises off’ are getting louder as the opening of the transfer window approaches.

I mentioned here last week that José has apparently been ruminating about a couple of centre-backs, and agent whispers detected this week also speak of one or even two full-backs being examined. 

Not all of these would be arriving at once, of course: as one or two Mourinho camp-friendly journalists have reported, there’s a two-window rebuild plan being discussed.

My own sources in Lisbon also mention a particular midfielder, who has history with both Mourinho and United, as someone who has been “talked to” about a surprise January move, of which we may hear more this week.

I am also told José has become a tad frustrated by the Old Trafford approval process, with so much having to be referred upwards to Florida these days. You may recall José’s predecessor was supposedly heard emitting similar grumbles.

Those with longer memories may remember, with a chuckle, assurances in 2005 from Messrs Gill and Ferguson that such matters would be much easier and quicker under a non-PLC régime. 

As with most utterances made at Old Trafford during that Year Zero, they turned out to be as worthless as Joel Glazer’s promise about attending lots of matches and being open to dialogue with fans. 

One suspects José will be rather less patient than the pliant and compromised Fergie was...

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