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.
|Strickland breaks hand punching door after blown save, out for up to eight weeks|
|He will have received good money – Costa delighted by Griezmann extension|
|Kane: Pochettino sent me love hearts after World Cup heroics|
|Nationals place Adams on 10-day DL with broken finger|
|Dybala: I can play alongside Messi|
|Lewandowski: Poland didn´t take enough risks|
|England´s Kane aiming to reach Ronaldo, Messi levels with World Cup performances|
|Kicker given three-year match-fixing ban|
|England confirm Alli thigh injury|
|Federer through, Zverev out in Halle|
|Back on the map and earning letters from ladies, Tabarez embraces Uruguay´s heritage|
|Rampant England rout Australia in record-breaking display|
|Pulisic in right place at Dortmund, says Arena|
|Wilshere confirms Arsenal exit|
|NASCAR at Sonoma: TV schedule, standings, qualifying drivers for Toyota/Save Mart 350|
|Muguruza and Kvitova cruise through in Birmingham|
|Leno among top 10 most expensive goalkeepers|
|Pained Salah unable to halt Russia´s unlikely march|
|Kyrgios downs ´legend´ Murray as Dimitrov and Djokovic progress|
|Neymar pain normal – Coutinho unconcerned by ankle issue|
|Russia 3 Egypt 1: Salah strikes but hosts right on course for last 16|
|We must make Ronaldo less exceptional, says Morocco boss Renard|
|Chandimal handed one-Test ball tampering ban, faces further ICC charge|
|Arsenal sign goalkeeper Leno from Leverkusen|
|Mexico style in Germany win surprised Arena|
|Monaco complete €20m move for Lyon teenager Geubbels|
|Saudi team don´t know cause of aeroplane fire, Pizzi reveals|
|Champions League qualifying draw: Celtic travel to Armenia, Ajax face Sturm Graz|
|I´ve never seen a player win on his own – Santos shrugs off Ronaldo dependence|
|Murray impresses despite narrow defeat on return|
|West Ham land club-record Diop signing|
|El Hadji Diouf hails ´perfect start´ for Senegal|
|Cisse and Senegal give cause for African celebration|
|Carvajal ready to face Iran - Hierro|
|Japan´s World Cup victory over Colombia sparks celebrations on the streets of Tokyo|
|Poland 1 Senegal 2: Good fortune and bad errors hand Africans Group H win|
|England shatter ODI world record with total of 481 against Australia|
|Best yet to come from England hero Kane, says Rashford|
|Salah starts for Egypt against Russia|
|De Jong expects to stay at Ajax|
|Barcelona angered by Pique´s involvement in Griezmann saga|
|Federer begins Halle defence with comfortable Bedene win|
|Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start|
|Brazil´s Neymar felt pain in his ankle, CBF confirms|
|Griezmann understands Atletico fans´ nerves over Barcelona speculation|
|Queiroz salutes Hierro for uniting Spain|
|Stump from Scotland´s defeat of England auctioned for charity|
|Red Bull will not have works team label, confirm Honda|
|Neymar hobbles out of Brazil World Cup training|
|Ronaldo´s revelry, Messi´s miss and Sanchez´s shocker - Russia 2018, World Cup of the penalty|
|Brazil ask FIFA to explain VAR decisions against Switzerland|
|Colombia 1 Japan 2: Sanchez red spoils Pekerman´s plans|
|Argentina v Croatia: Mercado wants an end to ´Messidependencia´|
|Hoffenheim director suggests €50m bid could land Kramaric|
|England will emerge as a ´champion team´, insists Jones|
|Ryder Cup teams shaping up great, says Strange|
|We cannot replace Iniesta – Abidal|
|Colombia´s Sanchez sees second-quickest World Cup red card|
|France v Peru: Varane and Les Bleus calm after unconvincing start|
|Semenya challenges IAAF hyperandrogenism rule with CAS|
|No Germany line-up changes needed, says Neuer|
|James absent from Colombia line-up|
|Alli to have scan on thigh knock after England win|
|Mooy not using World Cup to facilitate transfer from Huddersfield|
|Billy Vunipola a big loss for England, says Vermeulen|
|´Incredible´ Firmino works like a defender, says Mane|
|Jackson and Olding could make Ireland returns|
|Stokes and Woakes ruled out of T20I matches|
|Denmark v Australia: Socceroos confident of reaching last 16|
|Argentina should have selected Icardi for the World Cup, Zanetti claims|