Over the years, Jose Mourinho has earned a reputation as a fine deflector, strategically highlighting specific issues in order to take the attention away from other subjects.
While he may not have brought up the situation relating to Paul Pogba's form and the reports of their apparently strained relationship, Mourinho certainly did little to cool the discussion with his "lies" and "b*******" rant in the news conference before Saturday's laboured 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town.
And, just like that, with Wednesday' Champions League tie against Sevilla on the horizon, few people are talking about United's recent struggles or their laborious performances - everyone is talking about Pogba.
NO TEAM IDENTITY, NO FEAR FACTOR
It is worth noting that many of United's problems arguably begin and end with Pogba, the player who could - and should - be the answer to some of Mourinho's biggest issues.
It is well documented that, at United, Pogba has rarely occupied his favoured position on the left of a midfield trio in a 4-3-3 formation, with the former Juventus star generally deployed in a deeper two alongside Nemanja Matic, preventing him from playing with the freedom that brings the best out of his immense creative talents.
Shoehorning Pogba into a role that restricts him is detrimental to the side in general and is surely a major contributing factor to United's alarming lack of identity under Mourinho, and the consequent absence of a "fear factor" - an accusation levelled by Newcastle United defender Jamaal Lascelles after their recent 1-0 win over the Red Devils.
They may be second in the Premier League, but if a player for struggling Newcastle believes United have no "fear factor", then their hopes of going deep into the Champions League already look doomed, even against a Sevilla side who have endured a turbulent season of their own.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
Vincenzo Montella finds himself in a similar position at Sevilla to Mourinho in some senses, particularly in terms of a search for a team identity. Much like United, the Andalusians have generally been associated with a free-flowing, attack-minded style in the recent past. Even under the pragmatic Unai Emery they set pulses racing with a vibrant and devastating brand of counter-attacking football that won them three successive Europa League titles.
But any semblance of a specific 'philosophy' quickly vanished during the ill-fated tenure of Eduardo Berizzo. Billed as being a ready-made - if less gung-ho - replacement for Jorge Sampaoli, things were never right under the former Celta Vigo coach. Too often Sevilla had to rely on individual moments to secure results and, while his sacking - shortly after successful prostate cancer surgery - attracted criticism, the combination of consistently concerning performances and strained relations with key players ultimately cost him his job.
With Sampaoli's systems long forgotten and the team looking alarmingly muddled, Montella essentially had to start from scratch in his attempts to establish a setup that works for the team. The fact Sevilla were embarrassed 5-3 at home by bitter rivals Real Betis in his first LaLiga game tells all about their cohesion when the Italian arrived.
Much of the blame has been laid at the feet of sporting director Oscar Arias, the man given the seemingly impossible task of replacing Monchi, their revered transfer guru and inspiration for Sevilla's successes in the past 12 years. His exit to Roma was probably a bigger blow than the departure of any coach or player in the club's history, while Arias' signings since have so far been more miss than hit.
But Montella is doing his best to steady things in a new era. While Sevilla's erratic performances remain a worry, the new coach certainly deserves praise for quickly identifying a preferred starting XI, setting out a style that relies heavily on wingers and calming some disgruntled players. Steven N'Zonzi, Joaquin Correa, Pablo Sarabia and club-record signing Luis Muriel were all underwhelming under Berizzo, but they have been crucial since the turn of the year.
Despite Sevilla's improvement and the talents of the exquisite Ever Banega in midfield, however, their lack of consistency means this is a tie United should be winning, regardless of Mourinho's Pogba frustrations.
But, as two fine recent wins over Atletico Madrid showed, this is a Sevilla side that likes the big occasion and should not be underestimated. Elimination for United will leave little else to play for this season and Mourinho's talents for deflection will need to reach Luke Skywalker levels if he is to come out the other side unscathed.
|Santos turn to ex-Argentina boss Sampaoli|
|Muller could miss Champions League last 16 after Tagliafico kick|
|Home hope Bekker out in front at Alfred Dunhill Championship|
|Van Bommel in touch with Robben over PSV reunion|
|Pinarello chief confident over Team Sky future|
|Stade make Ospreys tickets free in tribute to teenager|
|WRC great Loeb seals Hyundai switch|
|Madrid rumours better than sack talk, says Pochettino|
|Nadal to join Federer at 2019 Laver Cup|
|Prigoda smashes world record, Hosszu dethroned in Hangzhou|
|Former Juve CEO Marotta takes over at Inter|
|Glenn to stand down as FA boss next year|
|Muller apologises to Tagliafico for kick to the head|
|Pereira pleads for more Manchester United chances|
|Griffin hails ´phenomenal´ Lowry after Warriors demolition|
|I´ve played with Zidane and Henry, but Messi is something else – Pires|
|Dragons forward Jack de Belin charged with sexual assault|
|Durant: Raptors are the real deal|
|Cocu bids farewell to Fenerbahce after ´mutual agreement´ is made over October sacking|
|Australia unchanged for historic Perth Test|
|Champions League draw: The possible last-16 ties|
|Southee happy to be back on home soil|
|I wouldn´t swap Dembele for Neymar – Pires|
|Canelo ready to risk heavy weather against Fielding|
|Raptors upstage Warriors, Davis leads Pelicans with 44 points|
|India skipper Kohli excited by green Perth wicket|
|PSG? I haven´t decided my future yet – De Jong|
|Marcelo: Real Madrid don´t have attitude problem|
|India pair Ashwin, Rohit ruled out of second Test|
|Kovac: Ajax-Bayern draw was amazing|
|Sims re-signs with Dragons until 2022|
|Derrius Guice injury update: Redskins RB (knee) has rehab setback, undergoes 3 more procedures|
|Emery: Arsenal could sign defender in January|
|Phillies sign McCutchen to three-year deal|
|O´Neal thinks his Lakers teams could ´easily´ beat Warriors|
|A-League to add two clubs by 2020|
|Curry says he was ´obviously joking´ about moon landing comments|
|Now the beautiful part starts – Ronaldo ready for Champions League knockout stage|
|Bayern have a lot more potential – Lewandowski not satisfied despite top spot|
|Lyon star Fekir shares plaudits for Champions League progression|
|Mourinho not surprised by United´s defeat to Valencia|
|Motivation no issue for Benfica, claims Vitoria|
|Lewandowski finishes Champions League group stage as top scorer|
|Mourinho: We scored two goals and lost 2-1!|
|England have a diamond - Guardiola hails City´s Foden|
|Sterling´s carefree display invites us to love football more than others hate|
|Juventus achieved their objective, despite everything going wrong – Allegri|
|Never say never - Schmidt not ruling out All Blacks role|
|Bologna´s winning start ended in BCL|
|Di Francesco critical of Roma performance|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 1 Lyon 1: Fekir fires French side through in Group F|
|Benfica 1 AEK Athens 0: Grimaldo sends hosts out on a high|
|Young Boys 2 Juventus 1: Hoarau double seals famous victory|
|Manchester City 2 Hoffenheim 1: City through as group winners after Sane brace|
|Ajax 3 Bayern Munich 3: Kovac´s men clinch top spot in Amsterdam thriller|
|Valencia 2 Manchester United 1: Jones scores own goal as Red Devils limp through|
|Solari accepts responsibility for Madrid´s heaviest home defeat in Europe|
|WATCH: Rooney backs Rocky ahead of Canelo showdown|
|McLaren to collaborate with Team Bahrain Merida|
|Las Vegas to host 2020 NFL Draft|
|Stade teenager tragically dies after neck injury|
|Cahill may need to leave Chelsea if he wants to play, admits Sarri|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 Roma 1: Chory winner takes hosts into Europa League|
|Real Madrid 0 CSKA Moscow 3: Champions humiliated at Bernabeu|
|Sarri condemns ´disgusting´ Sterling abuse|
|Hansen hails outstanding Ben Smith ahead of Pau switch|
|Foden, Sterling start for Manchester City v Hoffenheim|
|Sky decision will not affect us in 2019, insist Froome and Thomas|
|Al Ain 3 Team Wellington 3 (aet, 4-3 on penalties): Shootout heartbreak for semi-pros in Club World|
|Jackson to remain Ravens´ starting QB despite Flacco return|