THE Fat Lady was clearing her throat, the obit writers were sharpening their quills, Ed Woodward was looking for his axe . . . then there was a rip in the space-time continuum at Old Trafford.

We were back to the mid-90s when Newcastle were good but Manchester United were even better and something called Fergie Time was invented.

 

But this time when Alexis Sanchez scored in injury time – a third goal in a crazy 20-minute spell – to make it 3-2 the explosion of joy from the terraces seemed, well a little sad.

How far have the 20-time champions of England fallen when they are so cock-a-hoop about beating a visiting side without a win who are enduring their worst opening to a season since 1898? Yes that’s EIGHTEEN 98.

For the first time in Premier League history United had conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes – another unwanted record that Jose Mourinho seems to be picking up on an almost weekly basis.

But for all the delight a stirring fightback and rallying win from behind brings there were still fires springing up everywhere for United’s under-siege manager to try and pat down.

Hauling off Eric Bailly after 19 minutes was akin to a public execution and it was not much better for fellow centre-back Victor Lindelof who saw midfielders Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba dropping back in to defensive roles while his butt stayed firmly on the bench.

Marcus Rashford was ignored when he trudged off; captain Antonio Valencia was not in the match-day squad after he liked a post calling for Mourinho to be sacked and rumours persist that TEN players want out if the manager stays, including most worrying perennial player of the year David De Gea.

The Portuguese’s self-serving tripe about media ‘manhunts’ does not mask the fact his side are not performing to anywhere near their potential. Since the beginning of last season, they have dropped 30 points against the likes of Huddersfield, Stoke, Leicester, Burnley, Southampton, Newcastle, West Brom, Brighton, West Ham and Wolves.

Mourinho has used four different central defensive partnerships in the space of eight Premier League games. That instability at the back explains why they have conceded 14 goals already, a figure it took until December 23 for them to hit last season.

No matter how he dresses it up, United are a club with more cracks in it than Indiana Jones’ whip.

And next up are much sterner tests in the shape of Mourinho’s old club Chelsea before Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus are in town.

You get the feeling Jose will be spending the international break busily sticking pins in to his Eden Hazard voodoo doll as the Belgian – easily the best player in the league on current form – could probably beat the Red Devils on his own.

Fans are desperately hoping that this comeback triggers a reboot but it didn’t in April when United did exactly the same to deny City. And if stopping your noisy neighbours claiming the crown didn’t spark something in this group of players, why would the same result against a struggling bottom three side?

HAVING a much better time of it are Arsenal who have nine straight wins on the board in all competitions after their 5-1 mauling of Fulham.

I predict the Gunners will make the Top 4 at the expense of Tottenham and United merely because in Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang they have a twin goal threat as good as any side in England. It’s OK if you disagree with me, I can’t force you to be right.

Gabon star Aubameyang is the faster Gunner to reach 10 PL goals (13 games) and closest thing the club has had since one Thierry Henry.

SINCE making his Liverpool debut no player has kept more Premier League clean sheets than Virgil van Dijk (11) and he added another on Sunday.

It’s five in eight games this campaign after the 0-0 with champions Manchester City, although he has Riyad Mahrez to thank as the Algerian missed a late penalty that the Dutchman had given away.

It was an odd call to put the Algerian on spot-kick duties as he had missed six of his last 10 before ballooning his effort so high over Alisson’s bar that Nasa were concerned about their space station.

Pep Guardiola generously said after the game that Liverpool are the ‘greatest counter-attacking team in the world’ – coming from a man in charge of one of the greatest teams in the world that is some compliment.

Yes both clubs have spent hundreds of millions to get where they are but so have others who are nowhere near their level. Money talks… but all mine ever says is goodbye.

AND finally England play Croatia and Spain away in the next round of the bafflingly complex and pointless UEFA Nations League.

Two feel-good stories emerged from the naming of the squad.

Ross Barkley, who looks reborn at new club Chelsea, returned to the Three Lions set up for the first time since May 2016.

And there was also a first call-up for Jadon Sancho. The young Borussia Dortmund winger, 18, looked as amazed as I did when I found out the numbers on a toaster are for minutes not levels of toastiness!

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