Whether it's King Lear, Jules Winfield or Reginald Cousins, the storytelling canon is replete with parables of redemption, however improbable. And there are few more so than the tale of Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha – or da complete Cunha, as he used to be known.
Given his full name, Nani may sound like a character dreamed up by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but though a whole lot less sympathetic, he's experienced fluctuations in fortune just like Buendia and co. Now, though his face remains as eminently slappable as ever it was, things are going his way to the extent that a virtue can even be made out of the attitude that is so vexing, the beauty of his arrogance a total absence of nerves.
In much the same way there was never any doubt he'd score his penalty in Moscow, through on Gomes last Saturday - or Goams as my Cambridge-educated girlfriend called him - the outcome was equally sure. If the mind has no sense of its own fallibility, then it need never feel apprehension, at least until replaced by the kind of self-aware insouciance that wound up hindering Ronaldo's performances.
Anyway, thanks to United's wins over City and Tottenham, and Tottenham's defeat of Chelsea, there's still a chance - albeit an outside one - that the league might be retained. And having experienced both in recent weeks, I can confirm that hope beats despair, whatever Brian Stimpson might think.
Unfortunate circumstance dictated the Spurs game be watched in the pub, an option selected only in very precise circumstances, or when in dire need. Fortunately it was pretty much empty save the oddity of a pair of Mancunian brothers, one red, the other blue - and more curiously still, not after the vaguely explicable Andy-and-Steve-McDonald-older-City-younger-United fashion. On the one hand I felt I should chastise the elder for allowing his family to become thus contaminated, on the other, how not to respect the definitive piece of sibling bullying?
Considering there was something at stake for both sides, the game began in fairly dull style. Amusingly, Spurs decided to retain possession through sideways and backwards passing as though they were good enough to pick their moment, instead losing the ball immediately they attempted anything remotely difficult. Particularly culpable was Huddlestone, very keen on displaying ability he doesn't have, and less use than a rock on which people gather to share body warmth. He should stick to poncing around London nightclubs with his top off.
After half an hour or so, United began to apply requisite pressure, Spurs suddenly unable to hang with them. Noticeable as ever was the difference Rafael made to their attacking variety, not just in his crossing and comfort on the ball, but through his eye for a pass. Also handy is his willingness to keep running after playing it, turning up unmarked in places you wouldn't expect to find a right back. He may get caught out of position every now and again, but so what? He plays for United, so is entitled to expect others to cover for him.
In that light, it's aggravating to hear that Gary Neville has scabbed himself another contract. Though he's a decent enough emergency option, he clearly won't be reserved solely for those occasions, thereby obstructing Rafael's development and that of the team too. Given the presence in the squad of Brown and O'Shea too, along with Fergie's love of spreading the games around, the result will be to reduce the opportunities available to Fabio and Smalling.
United played ok in the second half, though bouts of on-pitch vomiting from Nani and Evra suggested that someone had snuck a copy of Scroatie McBoogerBalls into the dressing room. But despite such an inconvenient side-effect, its artistic inspiration was undeniable, those two instrumental in the eventual win.
A full back with the skills of a winger, in his time at United Evra has neither scored nor created enough goals - a harsh criticism, given his outstanding contribution to the cause, but a fair one nonetheless - so it was pleasing to see him win the penalty that led to the first goal, following on from his assist for last week's derby winner. And immediately Giggs despatched it, Spurs did their best to concede another, desperate to alleviate the pressure of competition.
Thus they were rather fortunate to equalise, a rare attack defended badly and resulting in an undeserved goal from a corner. Redknapp's introduction of Gudyomtov also made a difference, and it was strange, particularly given the tactics, that he hadn't been selected to start the game. Equally, it was surprising that he replaced Defoe, who though an overrated piece of self-importance, has the pace that would have made him a better outlet than Pavlyuchenko.
Before the game, the relative quality of the substitute benches were a slight concern, Macheda United's lone game-changing option. Though he's not exactly impressed, there was surely more sense in having Diouf available than both Brown and O'Shea, to say nothing of Owen Hargreaves, part Jeremy Bentham, part Bernie Lomax.
Chasing a winner, United were either running out of ideas or patiently refusing to panic when it arrived. Tottenham, though, were convinced by its imminence, United's scoring of late goals a self-perpetuating prophecy that preys on tired legs and minds after they've spent an hour and a half chasing the ball.
So, it's over to Liverpool who, Benitez said this week "lack offensive players". Now I'm not sure about that, but as we've learnt with Nani, things you like about people can sometimes be things you dislike. Therefore let us hope they show their fabled ability to scrape undeserved results against superior opposition and take a point or three off Chelsea. But that's where it'd end - some things are beyond redemption.