Earlier this week we took a look at how Manchester United's goalkeepers, midfielders and strikers have been getting on so far this season. Now it's the turn of the defenders. Which of them will be holding their heads in their hands on the pitch as Romelu Lukaku sprints past them?
Jones has been absent with injury for much of the season, but in preseason he had lost his starting place to the Chris Smalling and Daley Blind partnership. However, as Jones' injury and the early season knocks have shown, you need more than two central defenders to negotiate a busy season. Jones is nowhere near the requisite quality, and is plainly and deservedly third choice at United. There's no hint that he has the intelligence or attitude to go any further than this, and had United not failed to add to their squad in his position in the summer, he wouldn't be here any longer. Should Smalling or Blind become injured, worry.
Blind has had an odd start to the season. On one hand he is calm, measured, handy in bringing the ball forward from defence and able to launch impressive long balls over the defence for United's front three. On the other, he plays like a modern midfielder would in defence. He lacks speed and power, and is often shown up for not having extensive professional experience that is clear on Smalling and Rojo's part, whatever their own failures are.
On the naughty step once or twice over the summer, and now it appears he is there for good. The rumours suggest Bruno Martins Indi will be his replacement. He was offered to Monaco during negotiations for Anthony Martial, so it's fair to assume that even if he'd managed to remember to replace his passport on time in the summer, he'd still have found himself unwanted. By then, Louis van Gaal had already decided Blind and Smalling was the way forward. As to how he's playing, it's impossible to say. He's had no real opportunity, and injury has curtailed his involvement.
Smalling gets overpraised because he was wretched for a couple of seasons, and is now mildly competent. But he still makes mistakes, as he did against Arsenal and Swansea, and he will continue making mistakes until he has someone better to learn from, be that a better coach or a senior partner in defence. It doesn't appear even of those things will change until the summer at the earliest. For now, Smalling and Blind are enough to see off most threats in the Premier League and Champions League, but the best will slice through them for fun. And have already.
A brilliant, assured start has turned into a tedious, worrying palaver. It might just be an early wobble as the thrill of the new runs off, or it might be a more serious slump. Most likely it is a mixture of one of those and exacerbated by the inconsistency and relative lack of quality around him. It's a shame that you can say that for much of the United squad at the moment.
RIP. Gone too soon.