Seven games into his Manchester United reign, things are not exactly rosy for David Moyes.
Two wins, two draws and three defeats during pre-season is a less than impressive start for a man tasked with replacing the irreplaceable. While the new boss’s efforts thus far in the transfer market have been little more than a series of rejections.
And yet no manager’s history is written on the basis of pre-season friendlies; while Moyes has until September to rejuvenate his squad.
That being said, this afternoon all eyes will be on the United manager as he leads his side out for the first time at Wembley, in a friendly more dressed up but no more important to some, and yet one that could lay down a marker for the matches ahead.
United will be expected to beat FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic this afternoon. But it is how they beat them that will be analysed in the days leading up to the trickiest of Premier League openings – an away day at Swansea followed by matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of a month.
But Wigan's start to the season is such that they cannot be underestimated, and they will offer a challenge considerably more difficult than the pre-season games United have faced thus far.
That United were lackadaisical in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla will mean nothing if they dispatch Wigan this afternoon, and follow that up with early-season successes.
But continue that lethargy against the Latics, and there is little time for them to build up a head of steam before the games switch from meaningless to vital.
Moyes has been in the game long enough to know what matters and what doesn’t. And he will know that defeat this afternoon – even in a glorified friendly – will set tongues wagging and cause doubts to rise to the surface.
It is time for his United to perform, for him to prove he deserves this chance, and for the more experienced players to step up at a time when only his next generation have truly impressed this pre-season.
That in itself is a huge positive for Moyes. In the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard and Wilfried Zaha he has some of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League.
But their influence will be fleeting in the season ahead, and considerable in those campaigns to follow.
Now it is time for the champions of England to play for their new manager, and for that man to prove his worth.
He will no doubt thrive on the pressure. Why else would he have taken the job? But spotlights have rarely been brighter than the one on Moyes both today and in the games ahead.
What do you think the score will be this afternoon? And is Moyes ready for the challenges to come?