As the current standard bearer for The United Way, Patrice Evra's absence from the first leg against Bayern Munich was one of the outstanding causes of pre-game anxieties among United fans. And even though his deputy Alexander Buttner did better than many (or indeed any) people suspected was possible, and even though Evra's own defensive powers are getting increasingly erratic, it would still be encouraging to see him on the team sheet this coming Wednesday.
Which is why it was slightly worrying to see him removed at half time against Newcastle. But fret not. Evra has been speaking to Man Utd dot com, and has provided reassurances:
I think I will be fit. I received a knock and I was injured as well before Aston Villa with my knee so I will try my best to be fit. Sometimes you have to play your best and be honest with yourself and your team-mates ... If you play a bad game, you can't say it was because you were injured.
Evra also took the time to muse on United's general poor form outside Europe:
In the Champions League, we have played good. We are confident and it looks like we are all up [for it] more than in the league and in the cup. I know it is not professional to say that but it is the truth. We look more like we're on it, we look more like we have the Manchester United spirit when we play in the Champions League. I wish I had the answer why. It's difficult and really painful.
And finished with precisely the kind of focused optimism that has been missing all too often from this season:
I'm confident we can score an away goal at Bayern. The team is confident and when you play for Manchester United you have to be confident, even when sometimes you have a difficult moment.... You have to believe.
"You have to believe." That looks very much like an order. Start believing, people.