When do reasons simply become excuses?

The most plausible answer to the above pondering is, most likely, when people run out of patience. Which, in top level sport, happens with the rapidity Boris Johnson’s gaffes once provided Russell Howard with material and the rest of us with comic relief.

In some cases, though, one can’t help feeling that the impatience is down to entities having gotten too big for their boots. Presently, look no further than Wolverhampton Wanderers. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that, for the Molyneaux club, survival in the top echelons of English football would’ve been achievement enough.

To the credit of the black and ambers, they have undoubtedly surpassed that. Going so far as to qualify for European football on a few occasions in recent seasons. However, from the time they had to get used to life without the services of Nuno Espirito Santo, things haven’t been the same at the midlands outfit.

Their spiral got several revolutions quicker today, mind you, when news emerged that they had enabled the defenestration of their latest Portuguese coach after just eight games of the season. Yes, the defeat by West Ham dropped them into the bottom three, but at what point does it stop being the fault of the individual on the side line and the scrutiny switch to the Board Room or, God forbid, the pitch?

Was it not somewhat telling that the club was willing to their star player, Diogo Jotta, go and that at least one other of those who would be considered their top performers motioned for an exit.

Bruno Lage

For all that, the propensity of some clubs to pull the trigger opening the trap door for those in the dugout, with others you are left wondering what it would take to spark others into action. Manchester United have had as many managers in recent years as the Labour Party have had politicians.

Yet in both cases, the supposed (non) solution has been to remove the individual at the wheel rather than question higher up the production line about defective parts supplied.

United have, in my view, had a defective central defence from the time Rio Ferdinand left the club. With the best respect in the world, a point underlined by the continuing presence of Phil Jones at the club.

It’s not for the want of managment or on-field personnel changes, which have in some ways become a laughing stock. But ask yourself, in all their chopping and changing, why have they not solved the most glaring malfunction in their team?

There was a time when the top exponents in each position on the field would either be looking to go to Old Trafford or being looked for thence. At the moment, that would mean Virgil Van Dijk or Kalvin Philips or Gabriel or Matias De Ligt.

All of the above either weren’t approached or rebuffed the advances of the once mighty Red Devils. It’d be hard to blame them either. Now, it must be admitted that Lisandro Martinez has grown on me as a footballer, belying his diminutive status to have seemingly settled in well.

However, the reality is that the Argentine was liable to being exposed. Not that he could be blamed in any way for the Old Trafford team’s woeful start to the season. Playing Manchester City, though, is like going from getting over a speed ramp and then going straight at Mount Everest.

Erling Haaland is currently unmarkable

Quite literally in the case of Erling Haaland. On the weekend during which Gaelic football lost a (once) blonde force of nature in the great Brian Mullins of Dublin, the similar Scandinavin obliterated the pebble dashing United presented by way of defence.

It recalled a similarly catastrophic sporting occasion when a Dunboyne team sent out a 5ft6 centre half back out to mark a county player at centre forward who was exactly a foot taller. If you told it to an ass he’d kick you!

Granted, he has done similar to countless rearguards previously and doubtless will do again. Still, that wouldn’t explain or forgive the calamitous capitulation which sullied the famed jersey in the Manchester derby.

This corner wouldn’t be at all surprised if Erik ten Hag rolled out the old Graham Taylor line “You got us into this mess, you get us f***ing out of it” at the break.

Martial: Proved a point

Hopefully out of embarrassment and shame, the visitors at least applied themselves with a little vigour on the resumption, with the impressive Antony taking the blank look off the red side of the scoreboard.

Unfortunately for them however, by then Haaland and Phil Foden had bagged a brace apiece. Before, in what must surely be a rare occurrance, they both went on to complete hat-tricks. Presumably the match ball was split in two!

Indeed, for an all too brief period, it appeared there might be a need to carve the leather three ways when the formerly ostracised Anthony Martial planted a pair after coming on.

Proving a point perhaps as much to himself as anybody else. After Sunday’s debacle, the entire club, from owners down, have plenty to prove. Not least owing to the disgraceful manner in which Cristiano Ronaldo has been treated of late.

That said, the club has unfortunately amply demonstrated their alacrity at treating extremely gifted footballers – who would be considered marquee signings in most other places – with insulting contempt.

See Radamel Falcoa, Edinson Cavani, Angel di Maria, Donny van de Beek, Bastien Schweinsteiger and Odion Ighalo as references. The latter might seem a curious inclusion, but his five goals in quickfire time as a Devil was a more noteworthy contribution than those of some much more highly vaunted bluffers.

Above all else, though, Sunday’s catastrophe leaves nobody any the wiser as to where ten Hag’s team really sit in the pecking order of English football.

With admittedly ransacked confidence, it would still be asserted that – in an overall sense – they are not as bad as they were made look in the City calamity.

Then again, nor are they as good as they looked against both Liverpool and Arsenal. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but you wouldn’t see them quietening the noisy neighbours anytime soon.

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