If we were Alan Pardew, we'd feel a whole lot better if Rafa Benitez took a job far away from the Premier League. He looks the most vulnerable to a Spanish coup...
Although Tony Pulis has been widely criticised for Stoke's style of football, he has also reminded us that there is more than one kind of successful manager...
Sometimes football matches speak for themselves. A 1-1 in the first leg of a tie when either side could quite easily have won by a couple of goals needs less interpretation than most.
In late 2010, when Manchester City played for and got a goalless draw with United, we were waiting for one of those "Five things we learned" articles when a colleague quipped: "1. Don't send four people to a league match in November." Wednesday night's Bernabeu draw was a far more entertaining match and reading about it is initially no chore. At the same time, at the end of the acres of coverage we are none the wiser as to whether Real Madrid or Manchester United will win the tie and you get that feeling that some newspaper journalists were keeping increasingly desperate eyes on their word counts as deadline approached.
The odds are that a team with an away goal will succeed in the second leg but had the match been at Old Trafford and finished similarly then one of United's most famous successes would have been wheeled out as evidence of their continued ability to progress. In the 1999 semi-final they were lucky to get the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Juventus and then were 2-0 down at the Stadio delle Alpi. Not only did they fight back to level on the night and go ahead on away goals, but they even won the match 3-2, albeit at the expense of bookings that ruled Roy Keane and Paul Scholes out of the Camp Nou final.
No one did anything that we did not previously know they were capable of doing. Far too much is often read into 90 minutes for a particular player and, as you consider David de Gea's fulsome reviews, it is worth remembering that this is especially true of goalkeepers. As Joe Hart can testify, a penalty save against Brazil can be followed by embarrassment against Southampton.
Cristiano Ronaldo shone on the night but, his unfortunately grating personality aside, he has lit up the game for years, leaving all bar Lionel Messi in his wake. The less consistent Wayne Rooney, in contrast, disappointed. But while one glorious night at Old Trafford in the second leg would not overturn the trend of their careers, it could still be decisive. Patrick Barclay, who has written for most of Fleet Street, seems fond of pointing out that immediately before his sumptuous, balletic strike against City Rooney demonstrated the first touch of a baby camel; we simply do not know what he will do next.
Two things we learned: 1. We will not know how to analyse properly what happened at the Bernabeu until full time at Old Trafford; and 2. We have not yet learned not to reach premature judgments.