I couldn’t give two hoots about a less than thrilling performance, or the lack of a more emphatic scoreline.
All that mattered tonight was laying a certain 1986 ghost to rest and putting a god-awful week behind us.
Yes, Chorley made it uncomfortable with their long ball onslaught, yes, we could have exerted more control in the second half at times, but we’re in the fifth round and avoided an unimaginable fallout should the unthinkable have happened in Lancashire.
I was pleased to see Vitinha, who should feel extremely hard done by for falling behind Gibbs-White in the pecking order, get his chance tonight. He’s shown more control and quality on the ball in his handful of cameos in recent weeks than MGW has done in two years.
Although he didn’t play quite as advanced as a 10 tonight, what he offers between the lines would be suited to a role behind Raul or Willian Jose in a 4231, if Nuno was to return to that set-up.
As for the goal, all I need to say is that a certain Ruben Neves would have been proud of such audacity.
I found it bizarre seeing Cutrone start, as he awaits his return to Italy. His link-up play was woeful and Fabio’s wasn’t much better. Ok, the service wasn’t the best, but both fell way below the required standard.
The first-half showing was satisfying. An early goal allowed us to go on to control the first 45 through Moutinho and Vitinha, rather than engaging in physical warfare and playing into Chorley’s hands.
That platform gave us the chance to see the game out in the second period. It was like a Nuno performance of old – take the lead and control proceedings in and out of possession.
Two games away from Wembley and the sudden purchase of a proven and experienced number 9 at least gives us a some optimism to cling onto.