Manchester United will head into this weekend’s round of matches in the Premier League placed as low as 12th in the table.
The Red Devils have picked up just five points from as many matches, scoring nine goals and conceding eight in the process.
United are in fact closer to the bottom three than to the top four, but it could have been different had they not so spectacularly collapsed against Leicester City last weekend.
Louis van Gaal’s side were cruising on the hour mark as they were 3-1 ahead, but in the final 30 minutes of the contest they went awry.
Leicester scored four goals in the space of 21 minutes and Tyler Blackett was sent off, as United went back to Manchester with a sensational 5-3 defeat.
Had United won that match, then they would have been level on points with Premier League champions Manchester City and just two behind second-placed Southampton.
And that’s the exact point Van Gaal made during a press conference on Thursday.
'At this moment this is maybe my toughest job but we have to see in a year', he told reporters. 'We cannot say it about one week with the injuries.
'As a manager you know already in advance that it's a big challenge. This club is in a transition. What you don't know in advance is what the hard moments will be.
'At the start we won all of our games but now we are in difficult circumstances. We should have won last weekend - we had to win when we were 3-1 up. If we had we would have been two points off second place.
'But because of the loss you are now questioning me. If we won then it would have been different. We will overcome things - the season lasts a long time'.
Van Gaal does have a point. Had United not lost the three points against Leicester, then it would have been their second successive league win, and they would have been on track for a top-four finish in the Premier League and maybe even the title.
However, United failed to win against Leicester and the reality is that they are eight points off the pace. The collapse against Leicester was probably a one-off, but the three points lost could come back to haunt them later in the season.