THE banner reappeared at Old Trafford on Boxing Day — that alone spoke volumes.
These days Manchester United wait until their new managers have earned the right before their name flutters up there alongside the various tributes to heroes past and present.
But this one was different. This was the man who had won them the Champions League. So returning 20LEGEND for his first home game in charge was a no-brainer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have only been coming back for a few months, filling in until the next gaffer was appointed, but will forever have a place in United hearts.
So the banner, with the ‘Ole’ part standing out in red, came out of storage for the Huddersfield game and took its place alongside regulars like One Love and For Every Manc A Religion.
It will probably remain for good, even if Ole doesn’t get the full-time gig.
That, though, is increasingly unthinkable. The appointment looks more and more like a shoo-in.
Job auditions have rarely gone so well. Trial periods — if this is what it is — have never been so emphatic.
But forget all that. Focus on this afternoon. If any single 90 minutes was going to have an impact, This Is The One, as the song goes when they emerge from the Old Trafford tunnel.
Liverpool at home. At a time when their most hated rivals are going for the title, and United can derail them — on top of boosting their own top-four chances.
Win this, and Ed Woodward will need a tin hat should Ole not get the job on a permanent basis.
Yet that’s unlikely. Win today and, barring a total thumping when City come across town, the job is Solskjaer’s.
It was never going to be about what happened against Paris Saint-Germain, or in the FA Cup. It was always going to be about what happened in the Premier League. And although 90 minutes alone cannot earn the job, this one most definitely stands above all others for the fans, if not the club’s heads of state.
United go into it resurgent again after the hiccup of that beating by PSG. Solskjaer said the next challenge was about how they reacted to that first defeat.
They gave their answer at Chelsea on Monday.
So did Solskjaer, because amidst all the fire and fury over Maurizio Sarri’s latest step towards the exit, how well United performed was almost forgotten.
It wasn’t all about smiles and enjoying themselves and having fun. It was about tactics, tweaks in formation, a masterplan perfectly executed. It was about pushing Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba further forward and getting them into the box.
It was about strikers Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford pulling wide and delivering the ball into the danger area, rather than being in the middle to receive it.
Since Ole arrived it has been one joyous ride for players and fans alike. Win after win after win, with just one serious hiccup.
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But for all the points, the goals, the entertainment, today is the game every United fan wants him to win above all others. Beating Liverpool is always THE biggie. Yes, beating City runs it close, but if they could pick just one, most would plump for smacking the backsides of those at the bottom of the East Lancs road.
That’s why most would prefer to see the title stay at the Etihad rather than head to Anfield.
The novelty of wanting a City win to keep the crown from Merseyside hasn’t worn off yet.
That is why those chants will be just a few decibels louder this afternoon.
That is why Ole, already a legend as a player, could also become one as a United manager.
Without ever actually having had the job . . .