Jose Mourinho is being viewed as a potential saviour by some supporters of Manchester United, but even his points-per-game ratio in the Premier League would be unlikely to take the club into the top four this season based on the average tally required.
The average total for a fourth-placed side in the Premier League era is 67.89 from 38 games, which means United would have to pick up 2.25 points per game from their remaining 12 matches to make it into the Champions League.
United sit in fifth place with 41 points from their 26 games (W11, D8, L7) after another damaging defeat to Sunderland this weekend.
That means they are currently six points off Manchester City in fourth. City could still suffer an unlikely dip in form and improbably open the door for United. The bad news is that if Manuel Pellegrini's men keep collecting points at the same rate, they will finish on 69 points -- fractionally higher than the average. But if Mourinho took over right now, could he help United into Europe?
Would Mourinho make a difference?
Mourinho left Chelsea with an impressive record as manager, striding away with the highest ratio of points per game achieved in the Premier League despite his latter-day troubles.
The former Blues boss earned an average of 2.19 points per match over his two spells in charge, meaning that he is marginally -- 0.06 points to be precise -- off the 2.25 points-per-game pace required.
Of course, Mourinho's two Chelsea sides were a different beast to the current United squad in terms of personnel and challenges, and bare statistics often do not indicate the nuances and variables that surround them, but even a manager of the Portuguese's calibre would find it tough to haul United to Champions League qualification, via domestic success, this season.
At Chelsea, Mourinho amassed 140 wins and 44 draws from his 212 league matches over the two stints -- a 66 percent win ratio. Van Gaal has managed 31 wins and 18 draws from 64 games -- a 48 percent win ratio that is less than at all of his other clubs.
But the point remains, even if United were to make a change at this point of the season, whoever has the job of getting them into the top four on current form is going to struggle considerably.
History is against them
Bearing in mind recent history, the picture -- in terms of securing points for a top-four spot -- looks bleak for United. That is because the average points for a fourth-placed team in the Premier League is even higher over the past decade, in comparison to looking at the previous 23 years as a whole since 1993.
From 2005 onwards, it works out at 71.2 points.
Considering that average, United would need to dramatically improve their form and add another 31 points from their 12 remaining games -- that's an average of 2.583 points per game.
With Arsenal, Man City, Everton, Tottenham and Leicester among the teams left for United to face, it is certainly an uphill task.