Manchester United fans do not need telling that the team is in a rut. The thousands who left Old Trafford early during Wednesday's miserable 2-0 home defeat to Burnley made that abundantly clear.
The loss is United's second in a row in the Premier League – the first time that has happened since last April – and means it has won just twice in all competitions since the turn of the year.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded the side's performance was not up to scratch but, given its overall from since he took permanent charge, questions are being asked as to how much longer these defeats can be accepted as minor bumps on the road to a more promising future.
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United has endured some difficult days since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, but how does the current malaise stack up against those rotten moments under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho? And are there any signs of progress under Solskjaer?
OLE'S AT THE WHEEL, BUT THE HANDBRAKE IS ON
Nobody can deny the impact Solskjaer had as interim manager. He lifted the gloom around Mourinho's final days in charge and led United to 14 wins and two draws from 17 matches, scoring 39 goals and conceding only 13 . That's a win ratio of 82 per cent.
United also took 32 points from 12 league matches, which represents the best haul of any manager in his first 12 games in the competition at a single club.
Such was the lift felt by everyone at Old Trafford that Solskjaer was handed the job on a permanent basis on March 28, since when everything has turned rather sour.
From March 10 last year to January 23 of this year, United has played 48 games, won 18 , drawn 12 and lost 18 , giving it a win ratio of 37.5 per cent. It has scored 62 goals and conceded 58 .
In the Premier League, United has lost more games ( 12 ) than it has won ( 11 ) since Solskjaer took permanent office – a truly damning statistic in an era of worrying numbers. In that time, eight teams have picked up more points than United ( 42 ), while league leader Liverpool has amassed almost double ( 85 ) despite playing three fewer games.
THE WORST POST-FERGIE SEASON YET
United is fifth and somehow just six points off the top four, but that should come as scant comfort to supporters.
A return of 34 points from 24 games is its lowest since 1989-1990 ( 25 points), when it ended up finishing 13th. It has six points fewer after the same number of games than it did under David Moyes in 2013-14 and Louis van Gaal in 2015-16.
It means Solskjaer has the worst points-per-game ratio ( 1.64 ) than any of the other three permanent managers in the post-Fergie era, with Mourinho on 1.89 , Van Gaal on 1.79 and Moyes on 1.68 .
In all competitions, Solskjaer has won 49.2 per cent of games as United manager, which is the worst ratio of anyone in the Old Trafford dugout since Dave Sexton ( 40.3 ) between August 1977 and April 1981.
A SIGN OF HOPE?
It might not seem credible given the team's blunt display against Burnley, but Solskjaer has adopted a more attacking ethos than his predecessors.
Under the former striker, United has averaged 14.8 shots per game in the league, giving it an Expected Goals rating of 1.71 per match. Both of those figures are higher than under Moyes, Van Gaal or Mourinho.
Where Solskjaer's United fall down is in taking its chances. Its shot conversion rate of
10.8 per cent is the lowest since Ferguson's departure, and it means it averages
1.6 league goals per game, with only
Van Gaal managing worse (
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United's 36 league goals this season is the sixth highest tally in the competition, while its 10.1 per cent shot conversion rate puts them at a lowly 14th . It has also converted only 38.5 per cent of certified 'Big Chances', which is 10th best in the league.
When you consider it is third for total shots ( 357 ), fifth for Expected Goals ( 40.25 ) and fifth for creating Big Chances ( 52 ), that underlines the problem: Solskjaer's United simply isn't clinical enough.
In other words, it needs a ruthless goalscorer, which makes the decision to let Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave without signing replacements look all-the-more baffling, while Marcus Rashford's serious back injury means those numbers are not likely to improve quickly.