It seemed as if Jose Mourinho’s fate was sealed with only ten minutes gone in Manchester United’s crucial meeting with Newcastle United at Old Trafford.
The Magpies took full advantage of a lacklustre first-half display from their hosts, racing to a 2-0 lead courtesy of Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto.
United showed little potential to claw themselves back into the contest prior to the interval, and fans saw fit to boo their own players off the pitch as they headed for the dressing room.
The Red Devils faithful could be forgiven for entertaining the thought of things going from bad to worse after the restart.
However, the second period couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the first.
Mourinho watched his men not only pull back a two-goal deficit but snatch a winner through Anthony Martial to avert what would likely have been a fatal defeat for the manager.
It’s the kind of fight United have rarely offered under the 55-year-old – and many of his critics ahead of kick-off have subsequently changed their tune.
Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport: ”We’re always going to say what we see, the last few weeks have been rubbish, but today in the second half they were brilliant. Jose Mourinho’s passion transferred onto the team and onto the crowd.”
Paul Scholes was similarly optimistic about his job security, claiming: “I can’t see him [Mourinho] going now, it was a completely different team. They all wanted it, they all wanted to score and get the win.
“He made the right substitutions but his passion on the touchline must have transferred onto the team, he was right up and down the dugout.”
In a bid to turn the match on its head, Mourinho introduced Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini – two of whom found the net in the 3-2 victory.
Fellaini didn’t get on the scoresheet but did offer an insight into what the United boss told his players after they came into the dressing room 2-0 down at the break.
Speaking to BT Sport, the Belgian said: “The first half was a difficult moment for us, but we were more aggressive in the second half and we played more direct and created more chances.
“The manager asked us to be men and to not be afraid and just play. That’s what we did.”
Well, contrary to recent reports, Fellaini does make it sound like Mourinho still has the necessary influence to prompt a reaction from his men.
That’s certainly a positive sign – but it’s not a scenario United would want to find themselves again anytime soon.