Michael Carrick is convinced something is stirring at Manchester United again after the frustrations of recent seasons.
United have not challenged for the Premier League title since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and are again off the pace three months into the current season.
But despite results suggesting United’s start is their worst to a league campaign since 1989-90 – with just 20 points from 13 games – performances are generally considered to be an improvement on last season.
Midfielder Carrick believes the team are finally close to finding a successful post-Ferguson formula.
The 35-year-old, who has spent the past decade at Old Trafford, said: “It was never going to happen overnight, I don’t think we were ever going to suddenly move on so quickly – he (Ferguson) had been here so long.
“But there are certain signs that we are getting there, I can say that. I know we are well away in the league but there are signs that we can feel something is coming. But only time will tell that.”
Jose Mourinho, United’s third manager since Ferguson stepped down, has regularly bemoaned his side’s luck.
He had a strong case last weekend after United outplayed West Ham but had to settle for a 1-1 draw – their fourth draw in succession at home in the league – after a series of fine saves by visiting goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
United gained a measure of revenge for that by putting away more of their chances with a 4-1 victory over the same side in the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Carrick said: “All the games have been pretty similar. Even when we haven’t had the results, we feel we should have won all the games that we have drawn, which is hard to take.
“At the same time, it is hard to get too down because the performances have not just deserved to win the games but to win them quite well.
“There have been occasions in the cups where we have played well and the goals have gone in. It hasn’t quite happened in the league for a number of reasons but if we keep playing like that we will be okay.
“With our performances and the feeling within the game, it doesn’t feel like we have had such a bad start.
“You are judged on results, that is what the business is, but at the same time you get a feeling and you gauge it on performances as well.
“It is not something where you just flick a switch and everything is all right, you have to build as a team.
“But there are a lot of positives from individual and team performances and, for the rest of the season, I think we will be all right.”