True, when one looks back to the 0-0 draw with Manchester United, four games ago, it is with some tinges of regret: history currently relates that we are the only team to go to Old Trafford in the Premier League this season and not come away with all three points. To that extent, one can maybe be forgiven for wishing that the wave had started to gather strength just that little bit earlier. Like an hour-and-a-half earlier.
But one knows how that’s not the way of these things, of course, and it’s important not to be greedy or unrealistic at this point. The basic and well-established fact is, team construction is a process that tends to require time while players settle and blend. And as was demonstrated by the returns from the largely stylish 3-0 victory over Rennes in the Champions League last night, we’re now beginning to see the fruits of that invested time.
Some sympathy for the visitors, though, and in particular Chagas Estevao. It’s one thing to be penalised for failing to get your hand out of the way of a ball that has ricocheted at speed off your own body, quite another to end up getting sent off as a consequence of that.
BT Sport, as ever, had Peter Walton on hand to take us inside the referee’s mind as he stared at this one over and over again at various speeds on the pitchside pop-up flat-screen. According to Walton, the ref would have been looking at Estevao in those replays and thinking, ‘He’s made himself unnaturally bigger.’