As Manchester United stole possession from Arsenal in injury time at the Emirates a faint glimmer of hope that’s lingered in all Reds fans this season reared its ugly head.
So many times this season United have had possession in areas where previously they were so lethal.
What has followed has usually been akin to waking up from an incredible dream only to realise that life hasn’t miraculously gotten better.
There have been constant reminders for United fans of this limp attitude when their side do nothing creative, nothing daring and nothing Manchester United has become renowned for over the last two decades.
The truth is that the Old Trafford faithful are so attuned to being in awe of what their team can produce that they tragically retain hope they can still do all those amazing things.
In reality they cannot.
While the United of old may have gone for jugular in the dying embers of a damp and flat match, this side went backward into their shell, content with the point they just ‘earned’.
In their defence, it was a point more than many teams will likely get in North London this year.
However, while the result may have been a good one, the inability, or rather, the unwillingness to risk it all and go for broke is what should have really irked United’s troupe of travelling fans.
While some might bemoan the side’s league position the majority accept it with considerable dignity, considering the dramatic fall from grace.
What is harder to accept is how cowardly United are playing.
The thing that has defined the great Ferguson sides of the last two decades has been the willingness to lose heavily in the pursuit of victory.
What is most tiresome about watching this United side is that they take NO risks and are so scared of defeat that they retreat within themselves.
Before Moyes does anything else he must instil the ‘never say die’ mentality that pervaded Old Trafford and made the Reds the most formidable of opposition.
Football at its most basic level demands desire and fight.
For a team that is struggling to perform anywhere near its usual level, the first step is to display an acceptable level of effort.
As United tamely passed the ball to their defenders and saw out a weak goalless draw, the saddest thing of all was watching a team that had a win or die attitude reduced to a quivering wreck in the face of the adversity.
Picture courtesy of Stacey Cavanagh, with thanks.