A 3-1 win at Northampton on Wednesday helped to paper over the cracks at Manchester United.
And there are cracks. Three defeats in three before that EFL Cup victory. A mole in the United camp. Claims that players are ‘shocked’ by Jose Mourinho’s unsettling treatment of his players.
There is the feeling that United could soon capitulate. That their attempts to recover from three years in the wilderness by hiring Mourinho and spending more than £150 million in the summer could seriously backfire.
Nobody would be truly surprised if the Red Devils recovered by going on a winning streak. They do, after all, have one of the best squads in the Premier League.
But after winning their first four matches under Mourinho, including a win over Leicester City in the Community Shield, their recent results have certainly come as a surprise.
Pogba and Mkhitaryan have struggled
Mourinho assembled a squad that he thought could not only return United from three years of irrelevancy but make them champions in his first season. Yet it’s proving much more problematic than first thought.
Paul Pogba, who returned to Old Trafford for £89 million, has failed to live up to the hype. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been a non-factor despite being one of the best players in the Bundesliga last year.
Let’s not even begin discussing Wayne Rooney’s woes.
Merson: United is on Marcus Rashford's shoulders
However, Paul Merson reckons United’s biggest problem has something to do with another player: Marcus Rashford.
The Sky Sports pundit reckons the Red Devils are becoming reliant on the 18-year-old.
“There's problems at United - they're relying on Marcus Rashford who was only playing youth football last season," Merson said, per Sky Sports.
"He's having the same situation as when Anthony Martial came into the team. All of a sudden, Manchester United is on Rashford's shoulders. People are saying he's the saviour - it's a lot to ask for an 18-year-old to do in front of 70,000 people."
Six points behind
We understand where Merson is coming from - there are plenty who want Rashford to become a permanent fixture in the starting line-up, rather than a super sub.
The young striker, who nobody outside of United had even heard of until February this year, came off the bench to score a last-minute winner in the 1-0 victory at Hull City last month.
That was United’s last win in the league. We’ve since seen the club fall six points behind Manchester City after losing at home to Pep Guardiola’s team and away to Watford.