Well, that kinda ruined the fun, didn’t it?
On Saturday morning, news broke from the Mirror that Jose Mourinho was going to be sacked after the Newcastle match no matter what the result was. And, as Newcastle hilariously sped into a 2-0 lead after ten minutes, we were beginning to understand why Jose was sporting the haircut that normally precedes his booting out the door.
Newcastle came into the match full of pasta following their night out with owner Mike Ashley where he promised Rafa some cash and the players a holiday if they stay up.
Newcastle led and Mourinho hooked Eric Bailly, Steve Bruce edged nearer to the dream reunion with the club he loves and all of us on social media were having a proper giggle at events at Old Trafford. The Newcastle fans were giving us so much free advertising by singing ‘Sacked in the Morning’ that I could only dream of them adding dot com to the end of the chant. United were so on the ropes that they were out of the ring and sitting in the back row and there was even talk that Jose would be handed his P45 at the break and Ryan Giggs would appear from nowhere and take the reigns.
But then, Jose turned into Pep Guardiola. Of course, we all pointed at the fact he threw on Fellaini in the obvious Plan B but dropping Matic and Pogba into a false back three was the most attacking move I have ever seen the Portuguese manager make. Suddenly, Old Trafford felt like Old Trafford used to feel like as United did that thing they’ve not done for a very long time – attack.
When Nemanja Matic missed an absolute sitter it looked like he might have been the mole in the United dressing room leaking stories to the press, desperate to see his boss get sacked so he can enjoy at least some of his career without him in his ear. But that wasn’t the end, oh no. One of the nicest men in football, Juan Mata, went and spoiled all our fun by giving Manchester United hope. Then Anthony Martial, a man who is believed to be so far off Jose’s Christmas card list it might as well be Easter, equalised. And then, in some weird symmetry, a player Jose is thought to utterly regret signing scored the winner in injury time.
Jose’s Mark Robins moment? It is hard to see Mourinho going on to build a Ferguson like dynasty from here but it was quite good fun watching them attack, attack and attack. Nice one, Mo Diame.
Oh, and believe it or not, that victory means Jose now has the best win % of any United manager, ever. It’s worth sacking him now just so he can remind us all of that until the end of time.
Now, the biggest game of the weekend should have been at Anfield where the only two teams people think might win the league (even though nobody really thinks Liverpool will actually win the league) met with City having not won there since 2003. And, well, they blooming well could have done if (a) Peppy G had let Jesus take the 86th minute penalty and (b) if having been allowed to take it because he scores them in training (even though he has missed five of his last eight), Riyad Mahrez hadn’t smacked so far over the bar it hit the back of the net at Goodison. Pep thinks City should have had more penalties, for which Sergio Aguero would have still been on the pitch and probably scored one. Ah well. At least Guardiola did apologise to Gabby Jesus admitting that it was his fault to let Mahrez near the ball with three valuable points on the line.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea beat Southampton away. Unsurprisingly, Eden Hazard scored and was rather good. Somewhat more surprisingly, Ross Barkley got off the mark for the blues and even more surprising than that was Alvaro Morata’s second goal in four days – he didn’t cry this time though. Chelsea look good and are a lot of fun to watch. Could they be surprise title contenders? Sarri doesn’t think so, the coy old dog.
Hang on, Arsenal were supposed to struggle at Fulham as they’d flown to the moon and back in the Europa League, no? That wasn’t much of a struggle and, frankly, unless Fulham sort themselves out they will be remembered as a modern-day Holloway’s Blackpool except they spent way more than Holloway did in the fateful season. Lacazette is no longer a case of Lacagoals as he bagged another pair before Pierre-Emerick came off the bench to match him. Arsenal’s 5-1 win means it is nine wins in a row in all competitions. Suddenly that Unai Emery chap seems like a good appointment until they play someone proper.
It was nice to see Joe Ralls finally get sent off, albeit a week later than he should have been and albeit for a potentially worse tackle than his last one. Cardiff City travelled to Wembley to be the perfect contrast to Barcelona playing there in midweek. Eric Dier bundled one in for Tottenham which tells you everything you need to know about this one.
Everyone had been getting just a little bit too excited about West Ham and the fact they’d managed to avoid defeat for a couple of weeks. Naturally, this meant they were bound to lose at Brighton and lose they did. Glenn Murray, 48 hours after being ignored yet again by England as Southgate chose to turn to players barely out of nappies, scored yet another winner.
I think we can all agree that Watford’s title bid is officially over now. We can probably all agree that they won’t be ‘this season’s Burnley’ either having been spanked 4-0 at home by Bournemouth. It is more likely that Javi Gracia will be ‘this season’s Marco Silva’ (without the Everton flirtation) and be sacked in November. Bournemouth were excellent and made the most of Watford being down to ten men. Eddie Howe for United? If you mean Newcastle United, then maybe.
Well hello there, Everton! Finally, a performance that Toffee fans dreamt of last season when they were enduring the very best of Big Sham. Bernard made his debut and shimmied his way like a 1950s outside left to create the opener for Richarlison and then Gylfi Sigurdsson sent James Maddison back to the Championship with a delightful Cruyff turn before belting home the winner from fully 30 yards. That’s what happens James, when you get called up for England. Players from Iceland make you feel silly. Yes, I am still bitter.
And the man who made me bitter towards the English football team, Roy Hodgson, is not having a good run of form at Palace. Wolves beat them 1-0 to extend their unbeaten run to six and claim back-to-back wins. Has there ever been such a good promoted side? Probably, but we tend to remember what is happening now better than the past, don’t we?
Burnley and Huddersfield managed two goals more than I expected.
John Terry has hung up his boots from playing amid rumours that he is going to return to Villa Park as part of a management dream team led by none other than Thierry Henry. That’s right – Terry and Terry will lead the Villa back to the promised land (or it will all go horribly wrong). I think, deep down, we all know how it will end. But it will be fun watching.