Jose Mourinho doesn't encourage players: he provokes them. Ahead of a potentially defining trip to Anfield for Mourinho, he has started his work on Paul Pogba: derided as a "virus" in a curiously-leaked dressing room tirade, dropped for two straight games in which United avoid defeat, subject to public warning of the need to perform, which all leads to tonight - an audition in a relatively meaningless Champions League game away to Valencia.
United are guaranteed to go through and can only top the group with a win along with a shock Juventus loss away to Young Boys. Remarkably, Juventus trailed in Berne at half-time, meaning that a United win could send them through as group winners and a consequently easier draw in the knockout stages.
They fell behind, however, to an early Carlos Soler goal, and were largely outplayed for the first-half at the Mestella.
In spite of it all - they should have gone in level at the break: the ball broke invitingly in the penalty area for Paul Pogba...who inexplicably missed.
The linesman incorrectly flagged for offside, but Pogba wasn't to know.