Coincidence? Maybe. But Real's bid of £80 million came on the night of June 10, six years to the day after United had agreed to sell David Beckham to Barcelona, a decision that effectively sealed the departure of the England captain at the time, albeit ultimately to Madrid.
Now, as then, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took the call while on holiday in the South of France. Now, as then, the subject of the bid is hanging out in Los Angeles. Now, as then, the portrayal is of a narcissist who thinks he has outgrown the club. And now, as then, a decision that is perfectly legitimate, both from a football and a business viewpoint, leaves United looking for more than just a new No 7.