Contactless new ‘Hungry Wolf’ refreshment areas might be in place to tickle the taste-buds at Molineux these days, but they do little to whet the appetite quite like our number eight.
If music be the food of love, play on Ruben.
Within 55 minutes of our first Premier League home game, our beguiling hero had justified the season ticket price hike more resoundingly than 100 new catering booths put together.
Funnily enough, they ran out of hot water in the one I went to, yet my cup still runneth over when I witnessed our Cartesian God arcing another hypnotic strike into the top corner of the goal he loves the most.
It was another moment that only Ruben Neves could conjure, touching the South Bank net and the hands of the North Bank clock at the very same time. The seconds stood still as a raucous Molineux paused in tranquillity. Then Ruben wrapped his beautiful right boot around the ball to send us into that otherworld he took us once before.
Not that the blackening VAR gets any of this as it desecrated all over the moment. Even if it didn’t succeed in affecting the scoreline, it still jerked us away from that utopian place and slapped us squarely in the chops.
If it can airbrush spontaneous moments of artistry for the sake of a player’s fingernail, then I hope I never see it again. Moreover, the fans in the ground who are blessed to see such glory in the first place are the only people in the world who literally don’t know what’s being checked, as our eyes shift from our Portuguese Michelangelo to a cold, soulless video wall for further instruction.
Art, it would appear, is imitating life as freedom of expression makes way for a vacant digital screen which we all must dribble at blankly.
Another discussion for another time for sure, in a game that made for compulsive viewing. Manchester United looked a better bet than last season, with the £130 million spent on two new defenders offering a degree of improvement. It was an attack-minded formation too, but still a side lacking in a leader to drag them over the line in a game like this. A case in point being their penalty shenanigans, when Patricio came to our rescue.
We looked extremely competitive throughout, but uncharacteristically wasteful on the ball in the first half, with Neves himself caught in possession before United broke to score. But Traore’s introduction at half time changed the dynamic of the game, in a spellbinding cameo of his own.
A draw, featuring one glorious goal, seemed fair. Our emotions being toyed with by technology a little less so.