A cursory glance at the EPL table makes grim reading for Manchester United fans, even after their 3-1 win at Swansea lifted the Reds to sixth in the table. After all, the club remains eight points behind league leaders Liverpool, while they reside six points adrift of Arsenal in fourth place.
As if this was not enough, the disjointed and occasionally defensive nature of United's performances have also been a cause for concern among fans. There have also been questions posed of the players' attitudes and long-term aspirations, many of which emerged after the raucous celebrations that followed an uninspired 0-0 draw at Anfield in October.
3 Reasons for United's Fans to Remain Cheerful
While it is easy for United fans to be pessimistic after the three years they have endured since Sir Alex Ferguson's unexpected retirement in 2013, there are plenty of reasons for the Reds to remain cheerful.
Even the hard-earned draw at Anfield can be considered in a positive light, for example, especially given the form of Jurgen Klopp's side and the fact that they have already beaten Arsenal and Chelsea (while holding Spurs at White Hart Lane).
With this in mind, here are three other reasons for the Reds' faithful to remain cheerful: -
1. United Are Playing Much Better at Home
While recent home draws against Stoke and Burnley are hardly reasons to celebrate, the style and fluidity that the Reds displayed in this games was extremely impressive. In total, United had more than 60 attempts during these games and created multiple chances, only to be denied by poor finishing and two incredible goalkeeping performances by Lee Grant and Thomas Heaton respectively. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had 12 attempts alone against the Clarets, forcing several outstanding saves as a result.
When you also factor in the thrilling 4-1 win over champions Leicester City at Old Trafford, you can see Mourinho's preferred team and an attacking pattern of play emerge. This will continue to evolve over time, particularly of the Portuguese can strike a similar balance and identity away from home.
2. United Boast a Squad to Rival Any of Their Rivals
There is also genuine solace to be drawn from the quality, diversity and depth of United's squad, which can comfortably sit along any side in the Premier League.
From the extravagantly talented Paul Pogba and Juan Mata to the precocious Marcus Rashford, United are capable of playing in numerous different ways while also rotating without compromising on the quality at their disposal.
While this has not translated into results or consistent performances yet, this is because Jose Mourinho has struggled to find the right balance within his team or identified a system that can release his most destructive attackers.
Once he does, United will be able to compete on a much more assured footing in all competitions.
3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick Can be United's Secret Weapons.
With the subject of United's squad in mind, we must also keep in mind that the Reds have a number of potentially pivotal players who have yet to feature prominently this season.
Take Michael Carrick, for example, who provided balance and composure during the 3-1 win at Swansea and appeared to make United's attackers perform with greater freedom.
United have also won all six of the games that Carrick has started this season, a fact that underlines the influence that he has on the first team.
Then there is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who arrived in a blaze of glory in the summer following a £26 million move from Borussia Dortmund. The talented Armenian has made just one start so far under Mourinho, however, but he could make a seismic impact if he is able to convince the Portuguese of his worth and claim a regular, first-team position.
So, three reasons for cheerful for United fans. There are also plenty of challenges ahead if the Reds are to challenge for the title or a Champions League place, but these are realistic goals that may yet be achieved.