Jose Mourinho has fielded questions about Manchester United winning the Premier League title.
Frustration replaced the medals and entertainment United fans became accustomed to under Sir Alex Ferguson, faltering under David Moyes and struggling with Louis van Gaal.
Having not finished lower than third in the Premier League era under the Scot, since retiring as champions in 2013 the Reds have finished seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Such stats makes uncomfortable reading for the 20-time league champions, so too the fact they were an eye-watering 24 points behind champions Chelsea in Mourinho’s maiden campaign.
Those struggles were tempered by successes in the Community Shield, EFL Cup and, most importantly, Europa League, but the Portuguese knows his side need to kick on this term in the Premier League.
“Can we win it? We can, but maybe we don’t,” Mourinho told ESPN.
“Everything is good and strong, but some of them (other clubs) are really strong on the market, so it is going to be difficult.
“Normally, the second season should be better than the first, because you know the club, you know the players.
“The players, they know you, the club know you can affect in a positive way the structure. You can affect in a positive way the people that work around you.
“So normally the second season should be better than the first, but again, this is modern football. The reality is totally different.
“So when I see the way other clubs invest, when I see the way other clubs keep their best players, when I see the way other clubs refuse to sell their best players, when I see the economical power to do it, it is getting much harder.
“It’s getting much harder for everyone, so we don’t know.”
United will be jostling with as many as six other teams for the title this season – all of which will be juggling domestic and European exertions, unlike recent seasons.
“There is one thing,” Mourinho said. “This season is going be a little more balanced because of the fact the top six are all in European competitions.
“Not like last season, when Chelsea and Liverpool played all season one match per week, with all the others playing in Europeans competitions – especially us, playing in Europa League.
“Next season, six teams, and also Everton, are going to play in Europe and that is going to create a new situation for Chelsea and Liverpool.”
A deep, talented squad will therefore be as important as ever and United have been working hard to improve in a difficult market.
Long-standing target Victor Lindelof was signed from Benfica before Chelsea were gazumped to the signature of Romelu Lukaku, with United paying an initial £75million for the Belgium striker.
The 24-year-old arrives to much fanfare and expectation, filling the boots filled by last season’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic – released at the end of his one-year deal after sustaining a serious knee injury.
All-time top scorer Wayne Rooney has also departed, returning to Everton after 13 medal-laden years, and Mourinho ideally wants two more signings, with the likes of Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young still out for several months.
Those three joined United on their pre-season tour of the United States in a bid to boost camaraderie and togetherness of a group that to deal with quite the weight of expectation.
That has only rise after Mourinho brought hope and entertainment back to Old Trafford. Now he has to get them challenging for the title.