Watching last night's game merited an investigation into exactly where Fabio Coentrao has been for the last year and a half. His price tag has always weighed heavy, particularly when a large part of the Madrid faithful believed that position was already covered by an improving Marcelo at the time of the Portugal international's arrival. Subsequently Mourinho, who had insisted on signing Fabio, forced him into the starting eleven, by playing him in central midfield. It didn't wash; he was a player with more energy than leadership qualities. With dethroning Marcelo proving impossible, occasionally he tried him on the right, or kept him for extreme situations given that there was little doubt that he provided greater defensive strength than the Brazilian.
Months passed as despondency set in among player, coach and fans. Then, all of a sudden, last night the player Madrid believed they were buying emerged. He hammered away down the wing with energy, enthusiasm and persistence, seeing a first-half shot hit the post as De Gea brilliantly got his fingertips to the ball; he was a constant nuisance to United down the left. Maybe all is not lost.