Winter of discontent just about avoided

IT’S rare but wonderful to welcome a new Red star you can adore wholeheartedly. You want to know what’s wrong with Hernandez? Absolutely nothing.

(Apologies to fans of Audrey Hepburn there). Actually, many of us don’t care for the nickname-on-the-shirt business but, after the week we’ve been through, we’ll make the necessary allowances for cultural differences here. (Including that pointing-at-the-sky malarkey, which is a tad too Lampardesque for comfort).

Reds duly ballooned at Stoke “like it was a derby”, to quote one crowd behaviour expert: happy days are here again, it’d seem. Fergie spoke on Monday about the “galvanising effect” of the boy’s winner, and you certainly feel something has changed in the air.

Of course, the aftermath of RooGate looms over all this, and we note the Spud Faced Nipper couldn’t be bothered to watch the game on his Dubai hotel TV set, preferring to lounge about in the pool whilst his betrayed wife sipped cocktails.

Still, when you’re suddenly so rich that you are essentially excreting gold ingots, such onerous tasks as watching the club you have just professed on MUTV to “care about” must seem unnecessarily tiresome indeed.

One colleague of mine, watching the thrillsome interchanges between a magical Berbatov and the livewire Hernandez, muttered: “makes you wonder if we need him anyway”, which tells you something about the bridges that remain to be rebuilt.

Comparisons have been made between the Little Pea (ugh) and Ole Gunnar, which holds up well enough, but I also thought of Denis Law as the boy twisted and improvised within a split-second to steer home the most improbable of headers for the opener. The sheer improvisational resourcefulness in a tight space is pure King: if your mouth wasn’t already watering after his early season displays, it must surely be now.

The horrendous question will soon rear its ugly head, though – when they are all fit and flowing, how on earth to parlay Berb, Roo and Pea into a strike force? Naturally, you’d want all three on the pitch at the same time, if the combination can be found.

But bitter experience tells us United’s coaches will certainly bugger this up initially, and then take two years to get right.

So don’t be surprised to see Hernandez at left back and Berbatov in goal, if the usual madness is to be applied.

I’m being facetious, but not much: have we all forgotten the hooting absurdity of all those games that featured Rooney on the wing? Last night we might have captured a rare glance of that fourth musketeer, Owen, if Fergie followed his habit of giving him League Cup trot-outs.

But even if he bagged another brace as he did last time, no-one seriously supposes he is in with a genuine first team shout anymore, unless someone is injured or suffers catastrophic form loss.

Spurs arrive next for what should be the highest quality home league match thus far. Cue more nauseating love-in guff from Redknapp and Fergie, although they could also have serious business to conduct too, if the rumours I hear about Carrick going back to Spurs prove well-founded.

United were also once interested in Modric, who gave a sterling display last time we met. Generalised renewed transfer speculation is unavoidable, though, after the news of the Glazer concessions to Rooney last Friday, which in turn sparked pages of feverish target-listing in the Sunday papers.

It could turn out to be much ado about nothing, of course: but a Winter Of Discontent may well have been avoided. Let’s see if the pre-match protest marchers on Saturday are sufficiently numerous to suggest otherwise.


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