Manchester United’s last nine days were like the week from hell.
Not only have their dreams of Champions League football ended after a 3-2 defeat away to Wolfsburg but they dropped more points at the weekend after a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth in the chase for the title.
The millions lost by going out of the Champions League and the prestigious and glorious European nights will have to be replaced by Europa League football and the prospect of facing Danish side Midtjylland in the last 32 of the Europa League.
It is so un-necessary, and to some it must seem a little demeaning.
But if they treat it like that more heartache will follow.
Despite their total frustration at losing out on the Champions League riches, they must take this competition seriously, or they could end up really embarrassed.
By the time these ties come round on Thursday 18 February, with the home tie a week later, United will have no doubt, had time to add to their squad in the January transfer window.
But the major question is, will Louis van Gaal be given the time and funds to turn this round?
So many rumours are going round that United may make a change sooner rather than later.
If they lose any more ground on the leaders, he may go!
The club that once put stability at the forefront of everything it did will again be looking for a new boss.
Going out to Wolfsburg in the Champions League and Middlesbrough in the Carling Cup, has left the Dutchman with three trophies to play for; an enviable task for many managers but one he will no longer relish. They will be hard pushed to win any with the growing injury list and inconsistent form they have shown this season.
Something has to change at United but I don’t think giving Louis van Gaal the same treatment as David Moyes is the answer.
Personally, I think that Moysie should have been given more time to turn the fortunes of United round and I think that Louis van Gaal should be given time to turn this around.
Yes, the football has been turgid at times, but perhaps if United had their best 11 on the park instead of sitting in the stands or on the treatment table, they would be able to mount a serious challenge.
It doesn’t help when you know that your striking options are limited, leaving Anthony Martial as the only fit forward available and you keep hearing there is a little striker you sold to Bayern Leverkusen, called Javier Hernandez, who’s scoring for fun.
Even the best manager could have self doubts.
The United team which started the game against Bournemouth was their sixth youngest in Premier League history, but having youth on your side is no bad thing as Fergie or Sir Matt would tell you.
There is no doubt that United do have quality players in their ranks and on their day someone will come a cropper against them, but at present the players, fans, owners and manager must pull together and start to believe they can turn things around.
They are still within touching distance of the top of the table.
They must believe, even after their poor and indifferent form, that they could still win the title, as strange as that may sound!
Louis van Gaal did not become a bad manager overnight, and his record stands for itself but things have to change.
Luck plays a big part in football and United haven’t been getting any recently but many fans will tell you the same.
Before the turn of the year, United have three huge matches which they must simply win or at least take something from to keep themselves in touch with the leaders.
Maybe the United fans just need to have a little patience; they’re no real choice, to be honest. There will not be a quick fix or easy ride for United this season, whatever decision they make about Van Gaal. Their fans say the United way of attacking has gone in favour of a more slower, pedestrian type of football but the old style will come back once United hae the players to play that way.
For the time being the Red tide has been stopped in Manchester, but I do think that given time it will return.
The two home matches against Norwich this Saturday and Chelsea on the 28th will be stiff tests for United as will Stoke away on Boxing Day.
By the time they are done, we will know what kind of shape they are in and if they are genuine title contenders.