Watching United recently has been a bit like watching Westworld; like the hosts’ turbulent journey towards consciousness and self-determination in HBO’s philosophical sci-fi masterpiece, United have been struggling to break out of the post-Fergie narrative of relentless, looping mediocrity and achieve full actualisation of their true self. Having been programmed by Moyes and Van Gaal to behave predictably, and accept that this world isn’t really theirs, it’s up to Mourinho to set them free, to make them masters of their own destiny, to unleash a team of winners ready and willing to destroy anyone who stands in their way.
If you’re not convinced by this analogy, perhaps seeing Zlatan reimagined as Maeve will help?
Admittedly, I’ve recently had some surgery and this may, to some extent, be the opiates talking, but what I’m really getting at is that, off the back of two narrow wins against Spurs and last night against Palace, we are starting to look like a team capable of translating abundant talent and quality football into actual, meaningful results.
Last night’s game was tainted by a catalogue of officiating mishaps and one or two “violent delights”, but instead of bemoaning bad luck, Pogba and Zlatan took matters into their own almost superhuman hands and made sure we came away with all the points.
It was a moment of late-game belief and brilliance that indicated Mourinho is moulding a team with the skills and the spirit to close the gap on the top four and start writing a new, exciting narrative of their own.
Westworld may have reached it’s season climax, but for United, the sense is that the true MUFC is only just beginning to re-emerge.