Manchester United did not play badly on Saturday. It was a penalty in the first half when Matteo Darmian was tripped.
Mark Clattenburg’s dismissal of Ander Herrera was a travesty because he clearly slipped, and Tom Heaton, Burnley’s goalkeeper, was magnificent, and so were his defence.
Yet just four wins in 10 cannot be mere misfortune and the league table contains a worrying detail. Manchester United have the same points and goal difference as Watford, but are a place behind them due to fewer goals scored. That is the problem Jose Mourinho must address.
Watford defeated Manchester United 3-1 last month and Walter Mazzarri is doing a fine job. Yet there is a difference between a one-off game and consistency over 10 matches. Watford may fancy their chances on the day, they certainly wouldn’t have expected to boast a better record than Manchester United — albeit by one goal — with more than a quarter of the season gone.
The top three all have 23 or 24 goals. Manchester United have 13. It may be time for a change.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has no goals in five starts in all competitions and no goals in six starts in the Premier League. He last scored against Zorya in the Europa League on September 29.
He last scored in the Premier League on September 10, against Manchester City. He last scored in a league match that Manchester United won on August 19.
He has had more shots since last scoring — 42 — than any other Premier League striker has mustered all season. And against Burnley he missed the best chance of the match, with minutes remaining.
It is not that he is playing poorly, but he is not scoring — and neither are United, just a single league goal in October. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford is being used in a wider forward role, while Wayne Rooney is barely used at all. Leaving him out of the side has made little impact on results.
It may be time for a reshuffle, a shake-up, a rotation of positions, if not personnel.
And, yes, sometimes statistics can be misleading. Manchester United had 37 shots at the weekend and drew 0-0; Watford did not get a shot on target against Hull, and won 1-0 thanks to an own goal.
It does not matter. However the luck ran, with the resources at their disposal there is no way United should be outgunned by Watford this year.