At the end of the first month of the Premier League season, we assess the start that each club in England's top-flight have made – starting with Manchester United.
The Story So Far
It’s fair to say that Louis Van Gaal’s reign at Old Trafford has not taken off just yet.
The Dutchman has been tasked with ensuring that United return to past glories this season, but their opening performances have been nothing short of dismal.
An opening day defeat to Swansea City set alarm bells ringing and they have only got louder as the season has gone on.
The Red Devils followed up their poor starting performance with a 1-1 draw with Sunderland, which they were rather fortunate to get, and then were humiliated in the League Cup by lower-league side MK Dons in a 4-0 hammering.
In their most recent match, much was expected of a United side rejuvenated by the arrival of Angel Di Maria, but the performance was similarly lethargic and a 0-0 draw with Burnley was the ensuing result.
Things can only get better. Much has been made of the overhaul that United have undergone over the summer transfer window, but they have undoubtedly brought in quality.
When Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Falcao and Daley Blind join Di Maria and Herrera in making their debuts for the club there should be a freshness about the side and there will certainly be more class.
This shouldn’t have been unexpected. The instant Louis Van Gaal was appointed at Old Trafford he admitted that the first three months, as the players adapted to his system, would be tough and so far he has been true to his word. He did say he would deliver the side the title, too, in the coming years, and if that prediction is just as accurate then the future looks bright.
Every side senses opportunity. United have lost their aura of invincibility because of their sustained slump and now every opposition team is working hard to seize the opportunity they have to make history. The Red Devil’s proud history makes beating them, despite their struggles, a major scalp for every side in the division and, as a result, levels of performance are raised.
Lack of confidence. Never before has a United side looked so bereft of self-assurance. The team used to have an arrogance about it in its most successful years, but that has well and truly diminished as the pressure to cope without Sir Alex has grown. Now, many of the United stars are clearly underperforming and are showing no signs of being able to regain their poise.
It could take time to settle. Despite the influx of transfers bringing a huge amount of quality to the side they have never played together before and adding them to a team in transition is a risk. It could take a while before the best results are seen, but as the saying goes, it is always darkest before the dawn.
Make no mistake about it, United have heaped pressure on themselves with this dismal start. Despite the injury problems and the heightened expectations there can be no excuses for their faltering opening to the campaign and if things don’t improve this season will not just receive a low grade – it will be a huge failure.
How would you grade Manchester United's start to the season?