A tired and emotional hack, scrabbling about for kickstarting inspiration before a Sunday night deadline, loves an anniversary hookline.
For example, both Liverpool and United won yesterday, so into view potentially hoved “a great day for all Reds on the 99th birthday of the Russian Revolution...”
Mmm. A bit mass-murdery, so perhaps not.
Besides, a far more obvious date stared me in the face.
It was 30 years to the day since Fergie arrived at Old Trafford. How old does that make some of us feel?! As though watching United at the moment weren’t ageing enough.
In 1986, Fergie took over at a club living off past glories, pining for a long gone Scottish manager, with a declining pampered squad full of so-called stars who mostly needed binning. Thank goodness times have changed, hey? (Cough.)
It’s often forgotten that Fergie didn’t truly clean out the stables for a good 18 months.
He would do so from a position of strength, having first somehow steered the inherited squad to the league runners-up spot, setting a club record for fewest defeats in the process.
I think we can safely assume that Jose won’t be leaving it that long to start burning dead wood in order to avoid catching a career cold — and we can also assume we won’t be finishing second anytime soon.
Indeed, after a Thursday night in Turkey that was anything but a delight, newspapers had been falling over themselves to begin the cull on Jose’s behalf.
“Eight Players Face January Axe!” screamed one headline; “Drain The Swamp!” read another — although that might have been about a Donald Trump rally.
Come to think of it, I wonder who had the more hostile press last week — Trump or Mourinho? Both are now regularly portrayed as being barely-hinged dangermen, who might end up destroying everything in a fit of temper if left unsupervised. (Mind you, even Trump would know it’s time to stop picking Rooney.)
Certainly, the desire of press and public to see Mourinho fail appears to be something that unites the whole of England beyond Manchester’s red three quarters.
After the angry divisions in society caused by the Brexit vote, I suppose it’s nice for everyone to have something to rally around, apart from liking the Queen and loathing the French.
Naturally, all of the above makes Reds of my ilk cling loyally to Mourinho even more fiercely, notwithstanding the occasionally baffling nature of his decisions.
Thus yesterday’s win at Swansea, the second backs-to-the-wall victory we’ve had to conjure in a fortnight, was deeply gratifying, doubly so given the identity of the goalscorers. The once- beleaguered Pogba and Zlatan will surely now experience the sweet release of enduring relief.
In the latter’s case, it was frankly embarrassingly overdue.
Admittedly, Swansea were a bit poor, and look to be a club in some trouble. (Perhaps Ryan Giggs really did dodge a bullet there?) Beating them is nothing to write home about; as you can see, it’s barely anything to write to you about either.
Still, here we remain, clinging doggedly on despite yet another Cracked Badge Week, just six points behind the universally-adored team that apparently won the moral European Cup in Manchester last Tuesday.
Funny old game, isn’t it: City have won only three of their last ten, half United’s tally, and they also lost to us a matter of days ago.
Yet from the way the media gush, you’d think we were divisions apart.
Maybe my initial anniversary choice for this column’s intro did have something to offer after all, then; it reminds us that a Red revolution can expect to endure civil strife and external attack from the second it begins.
José, you must do as Lenin: write ‘What Is To Be Done?’, and then execute mercilessly. Tip: Start with the fattest, the oldest, and the most Belgian ones...
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