It has been a long week for Manchester United following their dismal defeat to Wolves on Monday night.
While many managers complain about fixture congestion in the festive period, interim boss Ralf Rangnick might well have been wishing he had an early opportunity to put things right following the first loss of his reign.
Instead, he has been made to wait an entire week as United face another weekend without a match before hosting Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Monday night.
The build-up to the match has been dominated by a perceived crisis at Old Trafford, a harsh reality check for Rangnick about just how unforgiving management at an elite club really is.
Questions have been raised over his own management style, tactical approach and substitutions in the last seven days, as the United dressing room grows tired of another new man in charge who has yet to stamp his authority on a motley crew of talented individuals.
With any hopes of winning the Premier League this season already over, the FA Cup has taken on extra importance for United as they look to finally end their trophy drought and re-instil a winning mentality which could springboard them to greater success in the future.
It is this extra pressure that has added an extra dimension to Rangnick’s team selection on Monday, as the German coach balances squad rotation, trophy targets and his own reputation to pick a side capable of overcoming a Villa team who have already won once at Old Trafford this season.
In order to swing the pendulum back in his favour, it seems certain the United interim manager must change his approach for the third round tie. And by giving fringe players a fair chance to play, he could win over a section of the support who remain undecided on him.
Despite a reputation as a lethal finisher in his playing career, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often used to squander open goals when it came to his team selections by staying loyal to a core of undroppable players when there were others deserving of a chance waiting in the wings.
United supporters have voiced their support for Donny van de Beek throughout the season, and although his performances have been inconsistent when given a chance, it still feels like he has plenty of untapped potential which isn’t being explored.
The performances of Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles in recent weeks have shown that United do have plenty of quality in reserve at their disposal, but not all of the players on the periphery are getting a fair chance to play.
It’s a similar story with Jesse Lingard, who now looks set to leave in the summer after rejecting a new contract offer. The English playmaker has been deserving of more opportunities this season, but has been continuously overlooked in favour of inconsistent senior stars.
You only have to briefly search on social media to realise the discontent among supporters surrounding the hypocritical pecking order at play, with some players being backed even when out-of-form, while others are thrown in at the deep end and find themselves back out of the team if they don’t manage to steal the show when thrown on in the dying moments of a match.
In order to be a success at Old Trafford, any manager needs to keep the fans on side, and by giving fringe players an overdue chance on Monday night, Rangnick might have the perfect response to his recent critics.