Manchester United host Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday three weeks after the Turkish champions were responsible for inflicting one of the most harrowing defeats of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial reign.
We’ve all seen the goal from the reverse fixture of this Champions League tie – you know the one. The one with Nemanja Matic frantically backpedalling and Axel Tuanzebe realising ‘ah, that was the guy I was supposed to pick up’.
It was a night that could well have brought Solskjaer significantly closer to the sack, but fortunately it didn’t do his chances of qualifying from the Champions League group stages too much harm, with United still very much in the driving seat in Group H.
Though United have managed to stabilise since then, if this season has taught us anything about the Red Devils, it’s that the next catastrophic result is never too far away.
United haven’t come out of the other side of the international break in the best nick – Eric Bailly is struggling with a muscular tear, Luke Shaw will miss out with a thigh injury, and a small knock for Jesse Lingard means this match will probably come too soon for a start, while Phil Jones (knee) will not return until December.
It is also possible that Mason Greenwood will miss out as he continues to recover from his illness.
There is some good news, however, in the shape of a possible return for Paul Pogba, whose small injury from international duty with France will not be enough to keep him from returning to action against Basaksehir.
Erm, hopefully. He did miss out against West Brom, so call it a ‘maybe’.
Istanbul don’t have quite as many injury woes to worry about – Enzo Crivelli and Junior Caicara will both miss out with muscular problems.
We know the score with Ole by now – he suffers perhaps the most humiliating defeat in Manchester United history (since the last one, at least), a conveniently-placed international break comes along, he picks up a couple of tidy wins, and we keep it moving.
Old Trafford’s answer to Houdini has done it again, following dreadful losses to Arsenal and Tuesday’s opponents Basaksehir with a win over Everton, an international break, and then a victory over West Brom where there was significant controversy over, you guessed it, penalty kicks.
After the most successful season in their history last year, Basaksehir are not looking quite so much the all-conquering juggernaut anymore, languishing seven points off the top spot in sixth after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Besiktas.
It hasn’t been that much better in Europe, where the club find themselves bottom of Group H after losing to RB Leipzig and PSG.