1992 and all that: Nathalie in red, her dad in, er, a gruesome away top

Nathalie Randall is Monsieur Salut’s younger daughter. She plays football better than he ever did and tries to make up for supporting Liverpool by liking Sunderland, too. Tonight, she watched Manchester United restore a little joy to a great but grieving city …

Manchester United won an emotionally charged Europa Cup Final against an inexperienced Ajax side, booking their spot alongside four other Premier League clubs in the qualifying stages of next season’s Champions League.

It took early goals in either half from Paul Pogba, playing two weeks after the death of his father, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

After a bleak last few days for the city of Manchester, this cup final triumph cannot ease the despair and horror of what has happened. But while sport is meaningless compared to lost lives, it at least offers positive respite.

Pogba’s 18th minute goal had an element of fortune as his long range effort took a large deflection off a hapless Ajax defender, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Yet it was no more than United deserved. They dominated the game, and defended efficiently and in numbers.

Mkhitaryan’s goal came just after the stroke of half time, with a neat finish from close range. Ajax tried to throw what they could at United, who continued to defend bravely and could have scored more on the break.

In the end it proved a comfortable victory and justifies Mourinho’s decision to prioritise the competition, for the importance of gaining that elusive CL spot.

Maybe some Sunderland fans have a soft spot for Man Utd given all the links – Wellbeck, Gibson, Januzaj [no thanks – Ed], Moyes, O’Shea, Keane, Yorke.

There is talk of O’Shea replacing Moyes as the new manager, with maybe Roy Keane coming back. That seems improbable.

I think at this stage a gamble is possibly not what is needed, and that Keano/JoS would be a gamble a la John Barnes/Celtic.

The goal surely has to be to get back into the Premiership as quickly as possible and experience is needed. Redknapp would have been ideal.

I have also heard Kevin Phillips’s name being touted as a possible option but again, that would be a massive gamble.

All I am sure of is what Sunderland supporters already know: they need to spend wisely in the summer and be very, very careful about their managerial recruitment.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by – and principally for – supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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