Manchester United’s well-documented pursuit of the entertaining football so synonymous with the club has been in vain so far this season.
Under the stoic stewardship of Louis van Gaal, the Red Devils look well placed given they are just two points from the Premier League summit.
But there are still murmers of discontent at Old Trafford.
Last week’s 0-0 draw with PSV in the Champions League left them teetering on the edge in Europe, a fifth stalemate in eight games under Van Gaal.
That was followed by Saturday’s battling 1-1 draw at Leicester, where two Bastian Schweinsteiger headers were United’s only attempts on target in the entire 90 minutes only served to reinforce their lack of cutting edge.
Football analyst Garth Crooks intimated following the draw at the King Power Stadium that the lethargy in United’s play could indicate the beginning of the end for Van Gaal.
“What a yawn,” Crooks commented. “The only decent thing to come out of Manchester United’s performance this weekend was Chris Smalling.
“Manager Louis van Gaal must be working extremely hard in training to get a team full of such wonderful attacking flair to look so dull.
“Surely the time has come for the United fans to petition the club and demand that Sir Alex Ferguson comes out of retirement and rescues us from this complete and utter drudgery. It’s just not football.”
But while Ferguson’s unprecedented success at United raised supporters’ expectations, it wasn’t always rosy under the great Scot.
In fact, after more than three years as Red Devils manager, Ferguson was under intense pressure having failed to deliver a trophy amid several midtable league finishes.
Fergie’s first 50 league games, shown below courtesy of Opta, also make for interesting reading compared with Van Gaal’s, who reached the half century milestone with a typically pragmatic 2-0 win against West Brom at the beginning of last month.
While the demands of the United board contrasted drastically in 1986 from the lofty standards nowadays, a win rate of just 42 per cent for Ferguson is far from inspiring.
It is Ferguson’s final 50 league games in charge, however, that undermine Van Gaal’s tenure.
Not only were United a winning machine, they were ruthless in attack too – outscoring Van Gaal’s version by a massive 33 goals.
In that title-winning 2012/13 season Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie worked to devastating effect; a far cry from the current disjointed setup which has seen Rooney’s inclusion come under intense scrutiny.
But should this be a major concern for United given they’re still very much in contention on a number of fronts this term?
And, like Crooks suggested, would United fans really consider casting Van Gaal aside in favour of a miraculous, if wholly unlikely, Ferguson return in a bid to save them from their tedium?