For many a year, Manchester United winning a home league game scarcely constituted news. Last season it did. Old Trafford was more the Theatre of Draws than the Theatre of Dreams. A new season and a new striker brought a new scoreline. United recorded their biggest league victory under Jose Mourinho.
The pragmatist arrowed in on the most significant element: the result. What, the Portuguese was asked in his news conference, pleased him the most? “The win,” he said. “Because many times last season we deserved to win and didn’t so the fact we won the match was the most important thing.”
His side cast West Ham into the role of sacrificial lambs, symbolic figures who, the Portuguese must hope, epitomise the difference between campaigns. They drew 1-1 at Old Trafford in November, one of 10 teams to share the points with Mourinho’s men. They lost 4-0 on their return. They could have been forgiven for a sense of foreboding from the moment Mourinho paid £75 million for their regular tormentor Romelu Lukaku. A double took his tally to 11 goals in his last 11 games against West Ham; he has done more damage to them than even Avram Grant managed.
Yet beyond the significance for an individual, even one as…