MANCHESTER - After a close-season of discontent, Manchester United's dismal performance in their 3-2 defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday only intensified the chorus of criticism.
But with the transfer window closed, manager Jose Mourinho has no alternative to trying to draw on his experience and skill to get the best he can out of a team many believe lack the quality and character to be genuine title contenders.
The big question is does Mourinho still have what it takes to turn around a side outfought by a team who finished 15th last season? Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, now a pundit on Sky Sports television, believes Mourinho has a very tough task.
"He is in a very difficult place, isn't he? We think he fell out with the Chelsea players and that ultimately cost him his job," Souness said. "As a manager, you have to push them and push them to the point where you are almost falling out with them but you cannot cross that line otherwise you end up falling out with two or three of the top men and they can get you out of the door."
Souness was scathing in his evaluation of the squad at Old Trafford. "Prior to Fergie (former manager Alex Ferguson) going to United, this is the most average group of players I’ve ever seen at the club. They’ve got absolutely nothing about them. They’ve got no presence or anything and there just doesn’t seem to be any leaders out their pointing fingers."