Match of the Day commentator Alistair Mann has penned a Christmas poem ahead of watching Manchester United's crucial Premier League game against Stoke on Boxing Day:
What the Dickens is going on?
It's Christmas Eve in Carrington and darkness has descended
While for others long since home, their working day has ended,
A man sits down, he's deep in thought, his coat says "LVG"
For him so much to ponder, is it time for 4-3-3?
People say it's crisis point, that things have all gone wrong
He feels that he can turn it round, he's resolute and strong.
A career that has been glittering, in Spain and Holland too,
But now he sits there wondering exactly what to do.
Then suddenly a flash of light, a ghostly vision nears
A blast of hairdryer heated air, a sagely man appears.
"Come on son, now's not the time to brood and moan and grieve
Instead be sure and confident and in yourself believe.
"It's not a time for fairy tales, Scrooge or Mary Poppins
You need a change of fortune son, for me it was Mark Robins!
Things turned round dramatically with Giggsy, Becks and Scholes
We didn't deal in goalless draws, just bulging sacks of goals!
"So now's the time to gamble son, you have your latest mission
Remember the United way cos we've a strong tradition.
The lessons from the past are clear, whenever you look back
For us the best form of defence, attack, attack, attack!"
With that another bang and crash, and standing in his place
Another apparition with a most familiar face.
Donned in stripes of red and white, he says," The name is Hughes,
I hear our game this weekend you can't afford to lose!
This fairground ride we're sitting on it never seems to stop,
Off went Rodgers, Advocaat and on came Sam and Klopp.
So I'll be waiting Saturday with Bojan and Shaqiri."
Then he laughed, began to fade, the atmosphere was eerie.
There then emerged another flash and bang his face had gone
And standing there a different man, "I am the special one.
Only a few months ago I achieved the double,
Then a string of bad results and boy was I in trouble!
Instead I sit here menacing but not to poke or tease,
But I've just heard Old Trafford might be going Portuguese!
It could be me, or maybe not, just don't fail at Britannia,
Instead a Pep talk could be next, e Viva its Espana!"
Then suddenly the Dutchman woke, it was a crazy dream,
And United after all still remained his team.
"Ah," he sighed, "all these reports, they're just a cruel joke,
There's no way my fate depends just on the match at Stoke."
……….or does it?