It is a struggle to hear the United supporters up the other end as the curva nord is right next to me but they are in good voice and it is a colourful away end, decorated by dozens of red, white and black flags. The stand is so antiquated the away end has a throwback quality to it.
Already, United look so much more comfortable in this formation. Their pressing and organisation is compact and none of the outfield players are detached. They got through Atalanta with striking ease there and United are not hampered by the anxiety they were afflicted by during their first-half performance two weeks ago.
Gasperini is already gasping. Atalanta look thrown by United’s set-up even though they had three days’ notice, and they are not able to control the ball as high up the pitch as they did at Old Trafford. Every United player is switched on, as was the case at Spurs, and the formation change seems to have eradicated the slow starts they have been guilty of most of this season.
It was impossible to tell what Maguire was carping about after the goal and Uefa’s handling of the VAR is clear as mud. There are no replays and no announcements on what is actually being checked.
That was a poor mistake by De Gea – his first all season – and there was only so long he could continuously pull United out of the mire. He has bailed them out enough times this season and now it’s one of his teammates’ turn to repay the favour.
United had started well up until then but, as suspected, a win and a clean sheet against the worst Tottenham team in years was not a reliable gauge of progress.