Fireworks at Old Trafford, fireworks before kick-off…It’s a wonder they’ll be any left come the 5th of November.
How many points will we amass by then, you wonder, thinking back to the last four seasons in the Premier League when things weren’t half as explosive.
Father Christmas was more likely to be making an appearance by the time we’d amassed 12 points or more, never mind Guy Fawkes.
Sitting in 8th place certainly represents uncharted territory for most of us, still dazzled by Moutinho and Neves and all those pyrotechnics that preceded the Portuguese. But this win against Southampton wasn’t so much a light show that has Football Focus drooling, but more a Health & Safety Executive to ensure that nobody got hurt.
Aside from a familiarly progressive opening 20mins or so, this wasn’t our flashiest performance but it was another win nonetheless, founded by a party-pooping back 5 and goalkeeper who could have been wearing high-vis jackets and hard hats when snuffing out the slightest hint of danger.
Danny Ings and Charlie Austin – names to induce mild palpitations in years gone by – were virtual bystanders and for all of Southampton’s forward thinking, hearts were rarely in mouths.
Our goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, is arguably the most calming presence of all. He wasn’t needed to deploy Stretch Armstrong mode this time out, but his general positioning and handling just oozes reassurance. All eyes were usually averted to Willy Boly in front of Rui, whose man-mountain physique belies a freakish ability with ball at feet. Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett (surely the most valued under-valued player in our history?!) complemented the Frenchman in customary style, while the wingbacks got through mountains of work at both ends of the pitch.
In short, this was a case for the defence.
As the game entered the business end, a bright and surprisingly progressive Saints performance had a fair few wondering if a point might not be so bad after all.
But then came more fireworks in the shape of Traore and Cavaleiro. The former was shock to the latter’s awe, combining to break the deadlock via the tireless Jiminez in a near replica goal to the one in the Theatre of Dreams. It was Molineux dreamland shortly afterwards when our tireless wingbacks combined for Jonny-on-the-spot to drive home to a deafening din.
All eyes soon turned to the plasma screens in the concourses at full time, locked on the Premier League table. It remains the most spectacular sight of the lot.