While a win at Sunderland shows that Manchester United may have signs of life in them after all, the team is undoubtedly in crisis mode. 

The midfield is a massive hole in the United team, and even the ever dependent Michael Carrick doesn't seem to have the pacifying presence that he used to.

He isn't by any means one of United's worst performers, but by last season's standards he's been average.

Although it is too early to tell at this point, I think Marouane Fellaini might be the first of David Moyes's big money flops.

He's a strong player who can get you a few goals a season, but those statistics represent the fact that he played in centre-forward last year for Everton - a position he certainly will not occupy at United.

Aside from having the odd stunner of a game, Fellaini has never been the most consistent anchor midfielder - his passing is weak and he doesn't seem to have the composure required of top anchors.

Graeme Anderson and Tom Cleverley have been so bad that they don't even warrant a mention.

While there are certainly problems for Moyes to deal with in the middle, the biggest problem at the moment is the defence.

The Red Devils have done a terrible job keeping opponents out this season (with the one exception being the recent Shakhtar game).

Usually a defence this shaky is the product of an offence that is firing on all cylinders and therefore being a little careless. This, however, is not the case with United.

Robin Van Persie seems to have forgotten how to score. Ever since that late miss against Bayer Leverkusen almost a month ago when he hit it wide from all of two yards, he hasn't looked the same player at all.

Rooney seems to be back to his mercurial best but even he is stuck compensating for Nani, Antonio Valencia, and Ashley Young's incompetence.

I'm surprised Wilfried Zaha hasn't gotten a chance yet given that state of the United flanks.

Last season, United were able to get away with conceding frequently because the strike-force was usually able to bail them out.

However, right now, United aren't by any means at top scoring form so there is no excuse for the defence to be under-performing.  

It's pretty clear that the worst of the lot is Rio Ferdinand.

Having fallen far from the colossus he once was, Rio looks perpetually shaky and gets skinned for pace regularly.

It's a godsend that Moyes has finally started doing something about it and benching the veteran.

Nemanja Vidic too looks past his prime. Sure he can put in an amazing game or two (like his performance against Shakhtar) but he looks uncoordinated and nervous.

Sunderland absolutely terrorised him in the first half.

Evans has been, is, and always will be a wild card - but given the incompetence of the current defence he's looking quite good by comparison, as is Chris Smalling (even though he doesn't seem to be able to time his headers).

They both look solid right now and may make a good pairing.

I'm a fan of Phil Jones but I still have my reservations over whether or not he's really a centre-back. 

Moyes needs to use January to bring in another defender or two.

The old guard look to be at the end of the line and the new guard, though solid, don't seem to be anything special.

Until then, Moyes needs to keep Ferdinand as far from the football pitch as possible and give his young defenders more of a chance.

They can't be any worse than the United defence is now.

After all, they'll always have Adnan Januzaj to bail them out if something goes wrong!

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#Manchester United
#Lionel Messi
#Cristiano Ronaldo
#Manchester City
#Robin Van Persie
#Nemanja Vidic
#Marouane Fellaini
#Rio Ferdinand
#Wayne Rooney
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