Manchester United rely more on luck than pluck: Richard Buxton
Lampard has good grounds to feel Chelsea were let down by VAR injustices
Manchester United, who were lucky in their 2-0 victory over Chelsea yesterday morning (Singapore time), are proof that fortune no longer favours the brave.
Against the odds, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side remain in the hunt for the English Premier League's final Champions League place.
But it was not pluck which kept the Red Devils' struggling season alive at Stamford Bridge, as the visitors won despite another sub-par performance.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard had justifiable grounds to argue that his side suffered from several injustices related to the video assistant referee (VAR); not least Harry Maguire's X-rated kick-out at Michy Batshuayi some 45 minutes before the United captain headed home to double their lead.
Technology also conspired against the Europa League holders, as their successive attempts to redress the balance culminated in goals from Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud being overruled.
United claimed that Cesar Azpilicueta had pushed Brandon Williams in the build-up to Zouma's effort, ignoring the fact that Fred had pushed the Chelsea captain into his teammate's path.
Had Zouma's goal stood, it would have cancelled out Anthony Martial's 45th-minute goal.
Sir Alex Ferguson once declared that "you can't applaud a referee".
The Red Army would certainly beg to differ, having previously delighted in receiving a helping hand from controversial refereeing at the Bridge in 2012, when Mark Clattenburg sent off the hosts' Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres as United prevailed 3-2 in an EPL clash.
When United met Chelsea in the League Cup three days later, United's fans were lionising Clattenburg, with a banner bearing the words "Captain, Leader, Legend".
Similar tributes may soon be offered up to Anthony Taylor and VAR operator Chris Kavanagh, both of whom hail short distances from Old Trafford, for similar acts of heroism.
Unlike the 2012/13 season which ended with United winning their last EPL title, the Red Devils' focus is now on just a top-four finish, which has become attainable.
And it is something they should aim for, rather than take for granted that Manchester City's Champions League disqualification will be upheld on appeal and rely on fifth spot to guarantee their entry back into the elite club competition.
Noisy neighbours have a tendency of refusing to go quietly even when instructed to do so.
True to another of Ferguson's most famous sound bites, however, Chelsea dropping points has meant that "the cat's out in the open" again, as both sides bid to safeguard their place at Europe's top table next season.
Before the match, the 20-time English champions had recorded only one victory in their first five league games of the year, mirroring Chelsea's form.
Lampard's bold gamble on youth arguably tested more patience at the EPL's business end than United's labouring under Solskjaer and the illusion that their state of flux is a "cultural reboot".
The Norwegian knows United cannot continue to ride their luck in the remaining 12 league games of the season.
Their upcoming opponents - Watford, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United - have plenty of reasons, at both ends of the EPL table, to not simply roll over and allow Solskjaer to stumble across the finish line.
Having fought a relegation battle with Cardiff City may actually stand him in good stead.
United will need to scrap it out more often than not to avoid spending another year outside Europe's elite.