Tag Archives: Man U

Man U do Arsenal a massive Europa League favour!

Okay, so “massive” oversells it ever so slightly. A truly massive favour would have been to let the match go to extra time while also seeing at least one of Casemiro, de Gea or Fernandes getting a straight red and three-match ban for violent conduct (how Fernandes escaped a red card for blasting the ball straight in de Jong’s gut as he went to ground is beyond me. Oh, right. Old Trafford. It’s de Jong who escaped seeing red for rudely blocking the blast). At any rate, by knocking out Man U, those lucky devils eased our path into the quarterfinals ever so slightly. We can’t draw Man U in the round of 16, of course, but there are still some tricksy ties on the offing.

Barca, despite being in the worst shape it’s been in in recent memory, still hold a psychological hold over large swathes of our fandom and perhaps over some in our squad as well. They’re still Barca despite the fact that their current manifestation are only a pale shadow of themselves. There’s no Messi or Neymar or Suarez, and although the mystique and swagger still linger, much like the smell of a sweaty sock one finds in the back of the closet, that odour can still overpower. Well, I should have written “could have overpowered” because they’ve been bounced out. 

The fact that the second- and third-favored sides are now out of the way can only be a good thing for us. The only downside to today’s result is that the insufferable Antony scored the winner, meaning we’ll be subjected to days of “he’s better than Saka” claims. 

Scanning that list of potential opponents has to boost confidence in our ability to advance to the quarterfinals. I invite you to try out the quantum mechanics required to figure out who’s the tougher opponent based on their place in their respective league. Are Sporting Lisbon, fourth in the Portuguese league, tougher than Juventus, seventh in Serie A? Have at it. I’m not a numbers guy. I’m barely a words-talking guy.

At some point, whomever we and Man U draw, there’s slight, barely worth mentioning chance that UEFA might enjoy seeing a Man U-Arsenal final. Others, who peddle in baseless conspiracies and indulge bizarre notions, might even go so far as to suggest that UEFA might even engineer such a final to the best of their ability, using such underhanded tactics as rigging draws and encouraging referees to, um, give us and them certain “advantages” along the way. That’s what I’m suggesting. I’m the “others” I just mentioned. I’m not saying they’ll do it. I’m not saying that meeting Man U in the final would prove that they did it. I’m just insinuating that UEFA has a less-than-stellar reputation.

If we both draw minnows, we can enjoy the idea that the fix might just be in. All we’d have to do is make sure we go out and win against whoever it is we draw. At a risk of sounding overconfident, I like our chances. 

Rivals' Roundup, Matchday #11—the best of times, the blurst of times…

Apparently, Newcastle are not a “big” club. Don’t tell the Saudis.

The weekend started off so swimmingly, what with Liverpool losing away to Nottingham Forest, the first time that’s happened since 1996 when your corresp
ondent was a shaved-head vegan college graduate with all the sanctimonious self-righteousness you can fit into a body that stands 5’6″. Add in a tie between Chelsea and Man U, and the recipe was coming together nicely (we all knew that Brighton were never taking points off Man City, so don’t bother asking about that fly in the ointment or the mixed metaphor I just penned).

1. Arsenal (9W 1D 1L: 28 pts.).
He scores when he wants. He scores when he wants. Granit Xhaka, he scores when he wants. Sorry. I wish I could bring the enthusiasm that the chant usually inspires, and Xhaka really does deserve it after scoring early to give us a 1-0 lead. His fourth goal of the season matches his best season since joining. It’s starting to feel like I should maybe write about Xhaka’s redemption arc because I just haven’t seen that covered yet. However, we just couldn’t see the game out in part because referee Roger Jones had decided that it’s open season on Gabriel, who was twice brought down in the box and twiced punched in the head. Well, if nothing else, the result keeps us atop the table, and we were once again treated to the latest manifestation atop Theo Walcott’s head. More seriously, though, it’s dropped points like these that we may come to regret later on. I’m sure Orbinho was weighed in with some suitably depressing tweet by now, but I’ll forego visiting his feed.

2. Man City (8W 2D 1L: 26 pts.).
Hahaha, Haaland didn’t get a hat trick. Clearly overrated. However, I am cheered by the fact that Man City were given a few breaks today. It’s about time things went their way for once. I refer to Haaland shoving a defender about eight yards before scoring the opener, and Silva earning a penalty for the kind of things Bukayo Saka gets booked for. Still, though, when you’re as downtrodden as City have been (losing to Liverpool? Pffft.), the universe has a way of evening things out. Despite the scoreline, Brighton looked, well, bright for long stretches and showed that Man City are not the irresistible force they’re portrayed to be. Any side that can score more often than the Seagulls (and that’s roughly half the Prem) would have secured a point or seized all three with a performance de Zerbi’s men gave today. That said, Man City have chipped away at our league and are still the prohibitive favorites to again win the league.

3. Tottenham (7W 2D 2L: 23 pts.).Newcastle (5W 6D 1L: 21 pts.).
To dare is to do, as the old adage goes. However, this Tottenham side dares to do very little other than to sit back, absorb pressure, hoof it forward, and inshallah. This Conteball stuff makes Mourinhoball look positively, well, positive by comparison. Shorn of the services of Kulusevski or Richarlison, Conte has had to batten down the hatches even more, but a second consecutive loss against a top four rival—this time at home—threatens Tottenham with all sorts of dire consequences. Conte himself has stated that it will take at least two more transfer windows to elevate his squad into contention (there’s probably a play on words there involving “Conte” and “contention”, but I’m too sauced to make it as of this writing. In the end, Conte’s too good a manager to let this side slip out of the top four, but, at some point, he may start wondering if it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to fall out of the Champions League sooner rather than later, given the thinness of the squad (and the fact that counter-attacking tactics undermine Kane’s potency).

4. Newcastle (5W 6D 1L: 21 pts.).
Such is the state of my life and odyssey as an Arsenal fan that one of the first matches I got to watch live, on a totally legal and legitimate stream that was only about a minute or so behind current events, was the one in which Arsenal took a four-goal lead into halftime only to end up drawing 4-4. It’s with that in mind that I worry about Newcastle’s rise. They may no longer have Joey Barton, but they do have the limitless resources of the Saudi Arabian government, and, with petrol prices as they are, they might just be able to afford a few upgrades on one Joey Barton. Eddie Howe has this squad playing some dogged, determined football; they are the stingiest squad in the Prem with only ten goals conceded, and I dare say that I’m fare more worried about their form than I am about that of Tottenham, Chelsea, or Man U. They are, after all, still finding their form, have no European distractions, and will almost certainly spend profigately if not prudently in January. They’ve taken five points from matches against Man City, Man U, and Tottenham. It’s astounding what a little bit of oil money can do for a club.

5. Chelsea (6W 3D 2L: 21 pts.).
Credit Potter for a bright start; Chelsea are now eight games undefeated since his appointment. However, he seems to have infected this squad with the same aversion to scoring as his former club. The Blues have scored just 16 Prem goals thus far, one more than Brighton and padded somewhat by a 0-3 drubbing of Wolves, who are hapless enough to make Leicester look competent. Back to Chelsea, though. Goal-scoring woes aside, they did perform the miracle of getting McTominay called for a foul, earning in the process a penalty that gave them a lead that they would soon squander. And by soon, I mean that Man U were given just six minutes of stoppage time to find the late equaliser. Casemiro’s looping header beat Arrizabalaga, leaving me with so many emotions. Shadenfreude at Kepa’s expense. Ambivalence that Man U nicking a point. Eventual satisfaction at realizing that the draw helps us more than it helps either rival. Hunger. That’s an emotion. Look it up.

6. Man U (6W 2D 3L: 20 pts.).
This week brought some spicy, spicy spectacles, starting with Ronaldo stalking off before full time against Tottenham last week, continuing with Ten Hag excluding Ronaldo from training with the first team and dropping him from this match. It has all the feeling of burnt bridges and sour grapes and throwing toys from the pram. Still, I can’t help but feel—what’s the word I’m looking for?—overjoyed at the debacle that now swirls around Old Trafford. That will probably be temporary, though, because a Ronaldo-less squad is a more-fluid, dynamic one that can play Ten Hag’s tactics far better than one that has to accommodate a 37 year old diva who doesn’t seem to accept that his best days are behind him. I suspect that the younger members of the squad (quick hint: everyone else in it) will be galvanised by seeing Ten Hag put Ronaldo out to pasture after them having to kow-tow to him for the last 18 months or so. It will probably tarnish an otherwise stellar legacy, but I’m more concerned with the potential renaissance this whole saga may unleash for the rest of the squad.

This was fun. It was even more-fun (funner? I can’t keep track) to exclude Liverpool for another week after they somehow found a way to lose to Nottingham Forest, whose only other win thus far came against West Ham, who are so woeful that they lost to none other than Liverpool. Life is cyclical, my friends. Ponder that, crickets. Liverpool are still closer to relelgation (seven points above Leeds, Wolves, and Forest) than they are to winning the Prem (twelve points from us). In the long run, they’ll work through this wobble and elbow their way into a crowded fight for the top four. The title is probably still Man City’s for the taking, but that leaves five other clubs (six, if you’re willing to give Fulham a fighting chance). Well, I gotta leave off for now. All this typing gives me the carpal tunnel syndrome, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Before you leave, do the whole upvote-comment-follow routine…

Weekend Wind-up #30: It's a wee bit short (that's what she said).

There’s been a doin’s a-transpirin’. What with midweek Prem fixtures about which we’ll say little (other than to point out that the Prem’s youngest squad very nearly toppled one of the world’s best), Champions League and Europa League ties, this weekend’s FA Cup clashes, and international friendlies coming up, there are, well, um, of lots of doin’s…doins’…doins’s…a-transpirin’? I don’t know. I don’t speak satirized versions of American southerners all that well. Suffice it to say that there’s been a lot going on. As Ernest Hemingway once said, don’t mistake motion for action. Let’s get down to business.

3. Chelsea
The not-at-racists eased past Lille in the Champions League, and their reward is to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday, and it’s a good thing that (a) there are no absolutely, positively no off-field distractions to discombobulate the squad, (b) Tuchel is clearly not being vetted by Man U for next season, and (c) no Prem side has ever been upended by the likes of Middlesbrough. Long story short, this should be an absolute cake-walk for the Chavs. Bolstering their bona fides have been Tuchel’s crystal-clear, not-at-all waffling responses to questions about Abramovich and his coziness with would-be Soviet-style dictators as well as the absolutely 100%, crystal-clear commitment to finding a new owner who’s not been linked to funding or profiting from human rights abuse. Long story short: Chelsea are the Ukraine of the Prem. Everyone’s rooting for them…right?

4. Arsenal
Name a more iconic-duo and all that. After being absolutely drubbed inches away from drubbing one of the best squads in the world, Arsenal emerged from a midweek setback…pretty much where we were beforehand. If Martinelli or Ødegaard had been just a bit more clinical in their finishing, if Ramsdale had just smothered Jota’s shot, if Marriner had just booked Mané just once…well, dare to dream, eh? Despite the setback, we’re still sitting fourth with games in hand over our closest rivals. We do have to go into Villa Park for a very tricksy fixture against a side that has feasted on relegation-fodder sides but also acquitted itself fairly well at London Stadium, scoring a late consolation goal only to lose 2-1 to West Ham. Coutinho is a threat to be watched, but if we can play with anything like the intensity and focus we showed midweek against Liverpool, Villa will be overwhelmed (almost went with over-velmed there. Bonus points for restraint shown, eh?).

5. Man U
Having bested Tottenham courtesy of a Ronaldo hat-trick, Man U decided that the best course of action against Sevilla in the Champions League would be to not let Ronaldo touch the ball. Like, at all. The man touched the ball, to be sure, but never did so anywhere close to the Atleti box. It’s almost as the hat-trick against Tottenham was the stuff of spontaneous serendipitiy rather than anything resembling a grand design. Having been ousted from winning Champions League silverware (which they clearly had a clear path to, what with there being no other clubs superior to them (I’ve been told that Bayern, Man City, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Atleti, and, well, everyone other than Benfica would like a word with me), Man U can now try to focus on salvaging something resembling respectability by holding onto a Europa League Conference spot. This is surely a shiny bauble that will entice Ronaldo, Rashford, and Rangnick to re-commit to the Red Devils.

6. West Ham
I’m torn. On one hand, I find it hard to taunt the Hammers when the Ukrainian Yarmolenko is involved, and he did score to send West Ham through to the Europa League quarter-finals. That’s some balm to the soul right there. On the other hand, Kurt “I kick cats” Zouma continues to play. Weighed on a scale, the fates and sufferings of millions of Ukrainians far outweight that of one cat. Yarmolenko: keep scoring goals. Zoum: get sanctioned. Having weighed up the moral underpinnings, I hope it’s not too cynical to size up what this all means. West Ham’s very-thin squad played a lot of football on Thursday and will have to go into Tottenham Stadium on Sunday, weary and perhaps divided. A positive result would boost their top-four aspirations while again denting Tottenham’s; resting a few key players might boost their chance at winning the club’s first major trophy since 1981. That’s just the kind of distraction a thin squad best by injury can ill-afford.

7. Tottenham
It’s the flip-side of the coin, innit? Tottenham will host West Ham on Sunday, and woe betide the side that has beaten the side that has lost its last six. That would be Brighton; Tottenham somehow, by hook or by crook, found a way to beat Brighton, Hove and Albion. Seems a bit unfair to have to face three different squads all at once, even if they together had conceded 13 goals whilst scoring just once in their last six outings. Making matters worse, Tottenham have established a very firm pattern of following a win with loss and vise versa, having repeated this pattern across eight matches dating back to mid-February. To be honest, though, a draw serves our interests best, as the two are both on 48 points, three behind us. West Ham have played a full slate of Prem matches but have Europa League to distract them; Tottenham have played just one match more than we have but have no other chances at silverware…yet again. Let’s hope they share the traditional scoreless draw with numerous red cards for violent conduct and, depending on your moral predilections, a few season-ending but not career-ending niggles.

Right. There you have it. There are a lot of moving parts here, and it’s getting harder to resist the idea that Arsenal have the inside track on a fourth-place finish. A lot can happen between now and the end of the sseason, of course, but I don’t think it’s too much to suggest that we among our rival for fourth are the only ones who are showing the kind of mettle, consistency, and dynamism requisite for the position on the table that we are all vying for. 

I’m no seer, of course, and as a result invite your own insights. Take a moment to enlighten me and all of those who bother to read this far. Comment, upvote, follow, share to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and all of those other platforms. Cheers.

Return of Rivals' Roundup: Extended, Directors' Cut

Howdy, y’all –

It’s been a few years since I’ve done these, but they seemed reasonably popular. In brief, life for me was a bit of a shambles, and these posts were a vital outlet. Life came together, and I got busy and productive in my career. I’m back, which is different from saying it’s all gone to pieces again. Best of both worlds, perhaps. At any rate, I can’t promise that this will be a weekly thing or that it won’t be shite. I’m more than a little bit rusty. Having successfully lowered expectations, let’s begin!
  1. Chelsea (7W 1D 1L, 22 pts).

    The Blues have astonished pundits and analysts alike by showing that a plucky little club can in fact hoover up some of the best players available and assemble them into a squad capable of contending for a Prem title. Having somehow found a way to put seven past Norwich, Chelsea sit atop the Prem, one point above Liverpool. We’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop, but, for now, it does seem like at least one club is willing to bravely explore uncharted waters when it comes to what it takes to compete. Then again, there are suggestions that simply spending money may not be the end-all, be-all, as neither Werner nor Lukaku was available. It’s almost enough to suggest that simply buying players isn’t as ground-breaking as Chelsea have shown thus far…

  2. Liverpool (6W 3D 0L, 21 pts).
    The Reds rather foolishly fell for Ole’s plan this weekend, building up such a first half-lead that their second-half boredom kicked in, denying them a chance to score more than one goal in the second half after succumbing to the Norwegian’s cunning. Whether or not Klopp will be sacked in the morning after such a naive display remains to be seen.
  3. Man City (6W 2L 1D, 20 pts).
    Signs of Guardiola’s existential malaise continue to manifest as he dares the universe to defy him. With so many shiny baubles at his disposal, all that he has left to do is tempt fate, and this surely explains his fielding a starting XI without de Bruyne, Sterling, or Mahrez, as if he wanted to feel something,
    anything, even pain or disappointment. Instead, much like King Midas, everything he touches turns to gold (unless–wait–was the already gold before Guardiola had him transferred in? Chicken-and-egg question, take a backseat to that). The tedium of winning and winning and winning will surely age Guardiola before his time. One can almost see him muttering on the touchline, “someday, someone will break you so badly that you will become unbreakable.” Not this week, Pep. Not…this…week.
  4. West Ham (5W 2D 2L 17 pts).
    Someone named David Moyes, heretofore unknown to the Prem, has steered the Hammers to an early position in the top four. There are rumours, unconfirmed at the time of writing, that this Moyes character was previously known and even respected as a not-shite (with apologies for the arcane jargon) manager. Whatever the research eventually shows, Moyes has performed a strange sort of alchemy never before seen in the Prem: taking a squad full of largely unheralded players and molding them into a competent force. If there’s an asterisk to attach to their status thus far, it’s that they’ve lost to Man U and defeated Tottenham. In other words, they haven’t faced anyone of quality just yet. Time will tell if they can keep up this pace.
  5. Brighton and Hove Albion (4W 3D 2L, 15 pts).
    I don’t much about this club but it seems unfair to combine two into one. Manager Graham Potter has shown himself to be an uncannily shrewd manager, as evinced by his refusal to take the Tottenham position over the summer and his apparent desire to score and concede exactly one goal per match for the rest of the season. This may just be the only reason Man City put four past them this weekend. Brighton’s goal difference has now achieved a perfect balance: nine matches played, nine goals scored, nine goals conceded. Well-played, Potter. Well-played indeed. Of course, with no European football to distract them, the Seagulls may have just enough tenacity to hang around the top four long enough to get us to start asking, “is this Leicester 2016 all over again?”
  6. Tottenham Hotspur (5W 0D L4, 15 pts).
    In a Quixotic quest, chairman Daniel Levy set out to hire a coach whose tactics would be even more boring and defensive than the man he sacked. He may just have succeeded. Nuno Espirito Santo is doing his level-best to show that he’s the most negative Portuguese manager. Having lost 1-0 away to West Ham may just be pulling back the curtain on Nuno’s desire to accomplish Tottenham’s version of the Invincibles season: a season without a draw. The larger question, then, is “will Levy be willing to sack a third consecutive manager?” Without Harry Kane scoring enough to paper over the cracks, we’re starting to see a hot mess in that shiny new stadium. It’s almost as if Tottenham are, well, shit.
  7. Manchester United (4W 2D 3L, 14 pts).
    In a bold, iconoclastic move, Ole Gunner Solskjær has set out to prove that a squad that includes Ronaldo, Cavani, Rashford, Sancho, Greenwood, Fernandes, and Martial isn’t going to score many goals. Defying the example set by Chelsea, it’s as if Solskjær
    wants to show that merely spending money to bring in players isn’t enough to compete. It may also be that Solskjær is playing an elaborate, long game of rope-a-dope, daring opponents to pummel his side early on only to dodge the worst of it and come back in the second half to stun a tired opponent. It almost worked this week against Liverpool, when the Red Devils held their visitors to just one goal in the second half, none after Pogba was sent off for a half-decent Xhaka impersonation. In reality, though, the real question is, “what is the proper mix of results that keeps Ole at the wheel while keeping Man U mired in mediocrity?”
  8. Everton (4W 2D 3L, 14 pts).
    Rafa Benítez, a longtime fan among Toffee fans thanks to his long service to Merseyside, decided to instruct his side to perform a wonderful act of charity, gifting Watford four goals in the last 12 minutes of the second half, surely to throw rivals off their scent. Who, after all, can take seriously a side that just let a club with a hart on its crest but three different nicknames referring to hornets score one-third of their season’s total in just 12 minutes? We’ll all underestimate the Toffees at our own risk. That, surely, is the only explanation for Everton’s capitulation this week.
  9. Leicester (4W 2D 3L, 14 pts).
    Someday, eventually, Leicester will show that selling all of your best players and relying on an ageing striker who thrives on his pace is not a sustainable path to success. Someday. Perhaps this is that season. After selling the likes of Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Maguire, and Chilwell, one would suspect that cracks would start to show. Brendan Rodgers has done tolerably well at holding this squad together. A few weeks ago, a 4-2 win over Man U would have proven any side’s bona fides. This week, it just feels like par for the course. Meh. What is there to say, other than to ask why did I start this when Arsenal sit tenth? In the old days, there were four, maybe five rivals to check in on. Onward, Christian soldier (except I’m neither Christian nor a soldier).
  10. Arsenal (4W 2D 3L, 14 pts).
    Arteta’s Arsenal staked a clear claim to being frontrunners for the Prem title, courtesy of a swashbuckling swatting-aside of Aston Villa, exposing once and for all the fraud that is Emi Martinez. Okay, okay, so I’m perhaps guilty of a touch of hyperbole literally for the first time ever in my life. Still, there are glimmers of hope to be drawn from arguably the best performance of the season, one in which the scoreline actually flattered our visitors. Without making any bold declarations, we’re currently one of only three clubs to have gone undefeated in our previous six outings, joining Liverpool and Man City in that exclusive, erm, club. If we can find any kind of consistency, not to mention the form we showed on Friday and previously against Tottenham (for 20 minutes, more ore less), we should start to climb the ladder. One hopes we do so more quckly than Monty does with the Stonecutters.
Phew. With that, this latest edition is done. I look forward to when we’re focusing on just a small handful of rivals–one, because Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool will be so far clear of the rest of the pack; and, two, because pretenders like Everton, West Ham, Leicester, and Tottenham will have faded.

Mou, Man U, and Malignant Narcissism (oh, and Mkhitaryan, too).

José, José, José. Poor little Mou-Mou. No matter how much those sugar-daddies spend, it’s never quite enough, is it? How can one be expected to contend for silverware after only having spent—what was it? Oh, yes—£148 million to improve a squad that was already worth more than the GDP of 42 actual countries.This is part of a disturbing trend on Mourinho’s part, but this is not yet another post on the oiligarchies that have infected football or of the financial steroids that certain clubs are on. Instead, we’re here to look at something much more personal than that. We’re here to peer into Mourinho’s soul. Bring your antibacterial, kids; this could get messy.

Now, we all know about and are probably tired of the comparisons between Mourinho and Wenger, with Mourinho cast as  the cynical, win-at-all-costs mercenary and Wenger as the pure paladin, devoted to his principles to the end. That’s not what we’re on about today. We’re investigating Mourinho the man (such as it is). What makes him tick? Why is he so driven yet so cautious? The armchair diagnosis? Malignant narcisssism, which consists of the following symptoms:

poor self-identity, inability to appreciate others, entitlement, lack of authenticity, need for control, intolerance of the views or opinions of others, emotional detachment, grandiosity, lack of awareness or concern regarding the impact of their behavior, minimal emotional reciprocity, and a desperate need for the approval and positive attention of others.

Sound like anyone we know? Long story short, Mr. Mourinho exhibits most if not all of these symptoms, and, as a result, all of us should pause for a moment to perform the requisite rites of sympathy. After all, who among us is guilty of pouring too much of his or her emotional satisfactions into the on-pitch performances of a group of perfect strangers, most of whom we will never meet, much less get to know on any meaningful level?

Then again, José has all the time and money in the world invested in getting to know those players on a meaningful level. Instead of managing that time and money, sadly, it seems that he all too often resorts to petty mind-games based on the symptoms of malignant narcissism. Those who fail to genuflect are made an example of: Torres. Casillas. Mata. Schürrle. Should we add to this list Henrikh Mkhitaryan, he of the £37.8m transfer in July 2016? Of him, Mourinho had this to say:

I was not happy with his last performances. I’m not speaking about one or two, I’m speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goal scoring and assists, high pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a No.10, were decreasing step by step. That was enough because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.

Fair enough. If a player is not producing, well, what choice does a manage have but to drop him? Then again, to so publicly denounce Mkhitaryan suggests that Mourinho suffers from a certain psychological shortcoming, one that can only be sated by inflicting suffering on others. If he’s dissatisfied with Mkhitaryan, it’s only a matter of time before Mourinho turns the passive-aggressive screws on other ne’er-do-wells…

Jokes apart, he works amazingly well for the team and I will never, never blame a player like him for the easy chance that he missed.

That would be Mourinho laughing off Lukaku, he of the £76.2m transfer fee, for his choice of shoes. Harmless, right? Who could possibly read subtexts into a phrase like “the easy chance that he missed”? Look at it from Mourinho’s point of view. Sometimes, there’s such a thing as having “too many attackers” when you’re facing such sides as Brighton & Hove. How can a manager be expected to properly park a bus when he’s got Mata, Ibrahimovic, Lukaku, Martial, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, and Fellaini, among others, all of them defying orders by daring to create chances or—gasp!—score goals?

Get the smelling salts and the fainting couch, Minerva; I do declare that I’ve got the vapors!

It seems abundantly clear that we have on our hands a man—and, yes, I do use that term generously—who is deeply in need of some kind of therapeutic intervention. On one hand, he will be satisfied with nothing less than total victory. On the other, he will only tolerate the total, complete, and utter avoidance of anything that might expose him to failure.

He needs help. It is by now obvious that no amount of silverware, no matter how crassly rented or bought, will bring this man satiety. He is a remorseless, amoral facsimile of a man. Does this mean that Arsenal should let the baby have his bottle? Quite the contrary. One way to vaccinate against this vile disorder is with a strong, stern dose of tough love. It is only through suffering that the patient will eventually come to realise the error of his ways.

In other words, for Man U to suffer defeat on Saturday would be deeply therapeutic, even cathartic, to the patient. It is therefore a moral obligation, then, that Arsenal win. We owe Mou nothing less.