Terrace Talk: Man United - One up on noisy neighbours as fiery Chilean ‘netted’

Back in mid-September, when I divulged to punters on the Red Issue website that United had engineered contacts with Sanchez’ people about a possible January move, the reaction to the scoopette was underwhelming.

“He’ll just end up being outbid for by moneybags City,” sighed a typical responder; “and why on earth would he join us anyway?”

As I write today, patting myself on the back for that autumn tip coming good, the latter question still preys on the mind a little. Is he simply coming for the bigger wage packet and signing fee, or does he truly believe he’s going to win more trophies here than at Wastelands?

To be fair to us — and to him — Mourinho’s silverware score versus Guardiola was two-nil last season. (Not that we expect a repeat this term, obviously.) Is it really that crazy a Sanchez hope for the future, as some pundits are asserting?

The more hopeful amongst us wonder whether Sanchez has concluded that Guardiola might be at PSG next season, as some media whisperers are increasingly insisting. (Seems mad, perhaps, but if City do the league and European double in May, you can see how Pep’s leaving on a high would be quite feasible. Admirable, even.) Yes, these and a hundred other speculative curious thoughts will continue to spin around Red heads for days and maybe weeks to come. But perhaps we should just forget all that, and Thatcheristically declare “rejoice, rejoice.”

We have somehow ended up with a very good player, of the sort we actually need, and who has proven he can dominate Premier League defences. And we have achieved this in the face of apparent opposition from our bitterest rivals. Let us enjoy this unexpected renewed burst of the Berbatov Effect, and not examine any gift horse dental work too closely.

One other thing we can all agree on; it’s going to be coming in the nick of time. United’s slack, luck-riding display at Turf Moor on Saturday reminded us just why Mourinho’s been stalking Sanchez for months. Not least as time after time, attacks broke down on the edge of the box, after poor decision-making or lazy application from our supposed stars.

We’re all playing that favourite pre-début game now, i.e. designing ideal team line-ups featuring our imminent new signing.

Mourinho hasn’t offered much by way of clues. For example, I daresay Tony Martial might’ve been a bit miffed about José’s dig at his lack of consistency after the Burnley match. But does that mean he necessarily has cause to be worried about his future? One hopes not.

Anthony Martial celebrates scoring Manchester United’s winner against Burnley during the Premier League clash at Turf Moor. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA
Anthony Martial celebrates scoring Manchester United’s winner against Burnley during the Premier League clash at Turf Moor. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA

Of course, I am biased there; and every Red will have his personal preferences on this score. “Perm any two, and sometimes three, from Lukaku, Rashford, Lingard, Martial, and Sanchez” produces many possible combinations, and the especially optimistic might even insist we throw Zlatan into that pot.

Stand by for weeks of arguments about this, as the newbie beds in and we all discover what works best alongside him.

Naturally, in these circumstances, we veterans all think back to previous mid-season striker arrivals, such as those of Cantona and Cole. The former’s produced almost instant alchemic magic, whereas the latter’s produced an unexpected amount of upset and trauma alongside the goals.

One thing in Sanchez’ favour is that no-one is seriously counting on his arrival to turn the league race around — however much the
never-say-die inner child within all Reds is fervently praying for this every night.

The pressure on him is certainly not as great as it was on Andy Cole, for example.

You have probably detected genuine excitement in these paragraphs, and I am in danger of starting to babble as I type this, accompanied by a celebratory lunchtime bottle of Chilean red that’s as feisty as Alexis himself.

So let us come down to earth and remember where we all have to be in four days’ time: Yeovil Town.

A Friday night FA Cup tie at a mythical venue against beloved underdogs, thus ripe for an upset in front of a salivating nation.

You can just see the hungry tabloid hacks thinking ahead now: Sanchez turns up at a club to win trophies, and immediately sees the best hope of one going up in a puff of giantkilling smoke.

With the recent trophy-thwarting Bristol City embarrassment fresh in the mind, let’s not be taking anything for granted here, shall we?

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