A really very curious weekend of footy. I keep thinking Middlesbrough could have been top - that's how weird it is.
The Premier League table just looks odd, like a cut-out and keep from a time when Ipswich and Burnley and Derby could and by God did win the First Division title. (They were happier times: pies were tuppence, terraces were human wave machines and modern beef cattle would've turned up their noses at the pitches.)
Southampton stroll forward with a curiously able collection of talents assembled by Ronald Koeman, who I keep imagine being played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Had anyone really heard of Pelle, Mane and Tadic before August? I was lamenting the disembowelment of Pocchetino's posse just weeks ago - now it seems it couldn't have been kinder.
Just as astonishing is Fat Sam's Fancy Dans at Upton Park. Again what Allardyce has managed to find - and this is football's equivalent to finding a suitcase full of cash in a public lavatory - is two goalscorers. We knew about Valencia but the other lad is lethal. Indeed, with a tight defence, a snappy midfield and agreat front man you could see Sam's got the full package: the backs, hacks and Sakho.
Big Sam seemed more than a little chuffed to be kissed by Russell Brand. I was looking forward to reading Brand's new book Revolution but at the last minute I realised that simply by purchasing the contemporary tome I'd be buying into a tired and unaccountable establishment paradigm that disenfranchises the working-class and only seeks to propagate its plutocratic hierarchies ad infinitum. So I eschewed its doubtless enticement and found myself compensated by the twin enchantments - steady there missus - of a glittering pint of Northern ale and a beautiful lady. Don't you know. (Anyone could write that stuff - trouble is, he does.)
Amongst all these refreshing table-top developments we cannot of course overlook the leaders and their comfy six-point cushion.
Chelsea continue to bolster the received wisdom that titles can be bought. Yesterday's match against the latest converts to that principle, Manchester United, threw together two of the most charismatic managers in the game. That's what I was told, anyway. Repeatedly. Til I told someone to shut the fuck up before I lamped him.
Journalists love to purr over these so-called masterminds as if this was less a footy match and more Kasparov v Karpov. Unfortunately for football managers, when they actually put their pieces into action they more often than not fail to behave int he expected fashion. Just ask Gus Poyet, whose solid rook Wes Brown turned into a right prawn, while the steady unyielding King Vito fell over and resigned long before the game was lost.
Nevertheless, Mourinho does seem to take a tighter hold of his men that most, if that doesn't create too unnerving an image. Once he and Van Gaal had disentangled themselves from as sincerely a held embrace as two men have ever mustered (I can't imagine Wenger even hugging his wife with such feeling) Chelsea fell into the Jose shape and stayed there.
Meanwhile Van Gaal's back three, four or five (depending on how many fingers you had covering your eyes) resembled a Dad's Army outtake at times, all of 'em darting in opposite directions, none of which was towards the ball. Mourinho missed a trick - there were goals to be had, particularly while Hazard was up against Rafael, a man who defends like a teenager lost in a haunted house with just a dim torch for company.
Mourinho's caution backfired, Fellaini mysteriously found some form and, as ever, United's forward forays showed enough swagger to encourage the Stretford End. Van Persie's goal was celebrated with the sort of clamour you'd expect for a late equaliser at, say, St Andrews. (There'll be one before 2015's out, I tell you). Yes, United get a plucky point. Well done, you scrapping hard-pressed little millionaires!
Although both Jose and Louis indulged in an after-you session when asked who might be the better of the two, I'd have to agree with the Dutchman that Mourinho pips him. The accusation with Mourinho is that he's only ever done it with huge squads on massive budgets. True. But not every one is good at that. Just ask David Moyes.
I'm not saying that Jose's teams spread joy to all and sundry - as Sunday showed he'd rather have a Matic than a Messi - but he knows how to get rich egocentric young men to work together and that takes some doing in this day and age.
Of course even he finds some players 'unmanageable'. Signore Balotelli, for one. Ironically a simple tap-in from three yards is what Mario finds 'unmanageable' at the moment. I feel a bit torn about the bloke. At least he's trying. It's just, well, I'm not sure he's really that much cop. And neither do the Kop.
Yes it's a rum old league at the mo, and with the top twenty in the Championship separated by a distance even shallower than the depth of Peter Schmeichel's analysis (seriously keepers don't really know owt about footy do they?) it's looking like everything's very difficult to predict. Apart from Chelsea winning the Premier League. Tsk.