For Manchester United to banish their utterly unconvincing start under Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese must admit he has got a lot wrong so far and go back to the drawing board.
Winning their first three matches of the campaign against Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull, two of which lost managers over the summer, papered over the cracks in Mourinho’s strategy and briefly made Marouane Fellaini seem capable of anchoring midfield alongside Paul Pogba.
The first 40 minutes of United’s 2-1 loss at home to Manchester City showed what a fantasy that was, and defeats against Feyenoord and Watford since have left club, supporters and the media all scratching their heads as to what to do next.
Dropping captain Wayne Rooney from the number ten role looks to be on the cards, which could mean £89m world record signing Pogba being pushed into the spot behind striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho, who deployed the likes of Claude Makelele, Xabi Alonso, Estaban Cambiasso and Nemanja Matic in deep midfield at previous clubs, surely can’t persist with Fellaini and Pogba as the midfield two in a 4-2-3-1, with neither able to defend with discipline.
Pushing Pogba forward and bringing in either Michael Carrick, who Paul Scholes was screaming for on BT Sport over the weekend, or Morgan Schneiderlin would surely be a better bet at present, although in such circumstance Rooney might fancy his chances of edging Fellaini out of his midfield berth.
Mourinho has other options should he wish to dump the skipper, as The Sun suggests in a damning piece that also questioned the Special One’s treatment of left-back Luke Shaw, who returned earlier this season after 10 months out with a broken leg.
None of the others capable of playing at ten rate as good an option as Pogba though, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan injured after a poor debut against City, Ander Herrera inconsistent during his two terms so far at Old Trafford, and Juan Mata clearly untrusted by the man who sold him to United while Chelsea boss.