Ah, Marouane Fellaini. The official scapegoat partner of Manchester United. Hauled onto the pitch at 85 minutes last week against Everton as a replacement for last year’s Bundesliga Player of the Year, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
His five-minute cameo – in which he conceded a penalty and was booked – lost The Red Devils yet another two points, two which they can’t really afford to lose.
After 14 Premier League games, United are sixth in the table on 21 points. Simply put, that’s 13 points behind league-leaders Chelsea and just three ahead of 11th-placed Watford.
At this stage of the season last year, Louis Van Gaal was third in the Premier League on 28 points. He had had just drawn to eventual-champions Leicester at the King Power Stadium. A certain Bastian Schweinsteiger was the unlikely goalscorer.
Meanwhile, David Moyes had notched up 22 points and sat in ninth place, the beginning of a downward spiral for the first post-Fergie manager.
One things fans agree on is the football they are seeing under Mourinho is considerably more exciting. There have been plenty of glimmers of swift, attacking football on display in recent performances. Although the result doesn’t always reflect that, as shown in league games against Burnley, Arsenal and West Ham.
Although he is six points better off than he was last season at Chelsea before being sacked, this is still his worst start to a campaign bar that one.
Whilst United’s Premier League hopes look to be faltering, they have glimmers of hope in the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League. Against Zorya they dominated the game, until eventually Mkhitaryan scored his first United goal, pulling off a nutmeg and striding past the defenders before slotting past the keeper.
Paul Ince pointed out in his column – which you can read here – that cups, rather than the league, may be the route that Jose Mourinho needs to take to secure any silverware this season and earn some respect from his critics. With games to play against Reading in the FA Cup, Hull in the League Cup and entrance into the last-32 of the Europa league, that is still a distinct possibility, regardless of wavering league form.