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TV View: Roy Keane left purring as Manchester United play like it was 1999 again

Sky’s Manic Monday began at 6.30, much of it filled with people passionately hugging Roy pitch-side

“Welcome to Manic Monday,” said David Jones, “we’re joined tonight by our very own Bangles.” Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville chuckled, but Roy Keane held his whist. He’s been called many things in his time, but never that.

And The Bangles, you might recall, had a tune by the name of “Going Down to Liverpool”, which was precisely what Roy and Gary feared would happen at Old Trafford yet again, based on what they’d witnessed in the opening fortnight of the season when the Erik ten Hag revolution began with mullerings by — and no offence — of all people, Brighton and Brentford.

The mood about the place reflected that pessimism, a touch funereal, the home support even struggling to offer Casemiro a frenzied welcome when he was introduced prematch. After declaring earlier in the day that he wanted to win the Premier League with United, they might have worried about his state of mind.

Sky’s coverage of Manic Monday began at 6.30, so we had an entire 90 minute build-up to the game, like it was the World Cup final, much of it filled with people passionately hugging Roy pitchside, while offering Gary lukewarm embraces and largely blanking Jamie.


Among the huggers were Jürgen Klopp, Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro, Roy cuddled out of it by the time kick-off came around. He had a quick post-hug word with Casemiro too, sadly an inaudible one, but it might have been along the lines of “you do know you’ve signed for United, and not City?”

Sky, meanwhile, sent Gary out to chat with United fans to find out what they thought was the root of the club’s woes, and bearing in mind the age-old accusation that United fans don’t come from Manchester, it was unfortunate that the six people he spoke to were from London, the north and south of Ireland, Wales, Germany and somewhere in Asia.

“You are the love of my life,” the Asian gentleman said to Gary, which left the latter beaming, and Roy rolling his eyes, possibly reckoning that the Asian gentleman’s lesser loves must have had all the allure of a turnip. Or Peter Schmeichel.

Then it was time to see Gary and Jamie’s chat with Erik, although initially it appeared that they were talking to his Da, so much has the poor fellah aged since he set foot in Manchester. The same thing, you might recall, happened Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. When he took the gaffer’s job at United he was baby-faced, by the time he left he had the look of Methuselah.

“You must feel let down,” said Gary to Erik about the club’s transfer dealings, (” bouncing around the market like a pinball,” as he put it), but Erik just chewed his gum and insisted all was good. And then Jamie told him if he was the gaffer he’d flog Ronaldo in the morning — not in a violent sense, rather he’d just let him depart the club. Erik chewed his gum again, which intimated that he had the very same desire.

It was a good chat, as was David’s exchange with Roy over the dropping of Harry Maguire and the appointment of Bruno Fernandes as captain for the game. Was Roy impressed with Erik awarding Bruno the skipper’s armband? “Hmm ... he’s got to pick somebody.” That was a no, then.

The team news, then, was startling, Ronaldo, Harry Maguire (and Luke Shaw) dropped, which was what they call in the trade “Erik stamping his authority on things”. And heightening speculation that Chelsea would up their pursuit of Harry, possibly offering one of their costly stadium fajitas as a swap.

First half. It was like it was 1999 all over again, United actually running about the place with a certain degree of purpose, Lisandro Martínez looking like Franco Baresi’s love-child, Jadon Sancho like he was worth his fee and Marcus Rashford like he’d rediscovered his soul.

United’s goal belonged, of course, in the Louvre, the passing in the build-up, and Sancho’s twinkle toes at the conclusion of the move, leaving Gary hyperventilating and Jamie reaching for the sick bag.

“This is a remarkable turnaround,” Gary swooned, “Liverpool have been absolutely shocking,” Jamie sighed, him being particularly disconsolate about Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold finding their inner Phil Jones while attempting to keep the ball out of their net.

“United are at it,” Roy purred at the break, the spikes in his seriously serious new haircut standing tall as he saluted a team that finally realised there’s no shame in putting in a shift. He might even have hugged them if he’d been allowed in the dressingroom.

Second half and Marcus only went and scored, prompting ear-splitting vocal spasms from Gary, and despondent grunts from Jamie. And not even Mo Salah’s late-ish, as-it-proved, consolation score could lift him from his despair.

United, then, soared to 14th in the table, Liverpool down to 16th, their relegation battle now real.

The revolution has begun.

Next up, Southampton away. If they’re mullered, it’ll be the briefest revolution in the history of association football. ‘Can we play you every week?” they should croon in Liverpool’s direction.