It's not been an easy first-half of the season for Jose Mourinho. Marginally ahead of the assorted group flailing in Manchester City's wake, his United side have been largely resilient, but wholly unexciting this season.
Contrary to the playing-style that Pep Guardiola has cultivated with City in the same space of eighteen months, that Mourinho's United are behind the Catalan Guardiola, as he manages United's city rivals no less, Mourinho's anguish knows no bounds this season.
While there is plenty of football to be played yet, with domestic and continental cups on the lines, Oliver Holt of The Mail on Sunday has suggested that United under Mourinho appear as nothing more than a "rich man's Stoke."
Speaking on Sky Sports' 'Sunday Supplement' show, Holt appeared to present the consensus of the room with his withering dismissal of United's unattractive style:
I actually think United fans deserve better. They are a rich man's Stoke at the moment. Yes, they're doing well, they're in second, but there's a lack of ambition in their playing style.
They don't show ambition in the biggest games, because Mourinho hasn't got the confidence in his players.
This was a sentiment that Matt Dunn of The Daily Express wholly sympathised with:
The functionality is great, but I think in the long term, I don't think stealing 1-0 wins, going to Anfield to try and steal 1-0 wins, are going to keep United fans happy.
Of course, long term plans are not necessarily paramount to Mourinho's managerial plan for United.
One suspects that the projected signing of Sanchez, and a successful assault on the Premier League or Champions League this season or next, would provide the Portuguese with reason enough to depart a difficult situation with his ego intact.