Despite the achievements of the last two seasons – winning the Europa League and later finishing second with an 80-point haul – optimism now seems to be at an all time low in the five years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Things are perhaps not as objectively bad as they were during the Moyes era, or quite as turgid as the Van Gaal years, but the fact that this team was supposed to be a major success by now under Mourinho after enormous spending makes it all seem somehow much, much worse.
But this Sunday did at least have one important high. That is because just as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and co. were kicking off for United at the Amex Stadium down on the south coast, the club’s brand new women’s team had just finished their first competitive game.
It had been 13 long years since the previous senior women’s team was folded by the club in 2005, but they celebrated their long awaited rebirth with a 1-0 win away against top flight Liverpool in the League Cup to kick off a new era.
Clear chances had been few and far between in the game but Scottish forward Lizzie Arnot struck late to decide the game. The 22-year-old was in the right place at the right time to turn the ball home at the back post after a cross from new United captain, England left-back and former Liverpool star Alex Greenwood, sending all the players into jubilation as they wheeled away.
First game and first win! What a great start to our season!
♀️ clean sheet
聾 1st ever goal for Lizzie Arnot!
Fantastic support! #MUWomen pic.twitter.com/SyyMp5yWCp
— Siobhan ⚽️ (@Sio_Chamberlain) August 19, 2018
United are second behind Reading on goal difference in Group Two North of the competition, which differs in format to the men’s League Cup, and will now face the Royals in their upcoming game next weekend in what will be the club’s very first official home game.
United Women will begin their league campaign on 9th September against Aston Villa in the FA Women’s Championship, the second tier of women’s football in England.
What a way to start our journey, So proud of this TEAM !! Massive Thankyou to our travelling fans today too, See use next week #Family ⚫️⚪️ https://t.co/GjBWZhRKor
— Alex Greenwood (@AlexGreenwood) August 19, 2018
Given the plethora of stars in the squad, both established and emerging, the team, managed by former England captain Casey Stoney, is expected to earn immediate promotion to the top flight Super League, where the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool play.