Losing points again on Saturday left a sour taste in the mouths of many Manchester United fans. For the first time in years, the whole stadium was subdued for large parts of the match, waiting in anticipation for Southampton to score. It seemed inevitable.
There were a few points of the game where the finger could be pointed toward David Moyes, but one has to think, with five minutes left surely the team has to take responsibility to see a game out. You can't help but compare United teams of the past of when they weren't playing very well, yet they would grind out the result. The performance of yesterday was far from that.
What will frustrate Moyes the most was that there were many areas of the game United looked weak. Marouane Fellaini hasn't had the impact he would've wished and his partnership with Michael Carrick doesn't look like it will be prosperous.
He lost the ball on multiple occasions, taking one or two extra touches when not necessary. The midfielder claimed recently his preferred position is in defensive midfield, but if he couldn't stake a claim against Southampton (who were excellent yesterday), then he won't be able to perform against the top clubs in that position, especially after his performance against Manchester City.
With the players hanging on in the last 10 minutes, the biggest attribute the team had under Sir Alex Ferguson was that they had the mentality to stay composed and play the game out. Ferguson would rarely bring on a defensive substitute unless needed.
When Moyes brought on Chris Smalling in the closing stages of the match for Fellaini and pushed Jones out of defence, it was quite a negative substitution. It's not often a manager changes it's back four when you're holding on to a 1-0 unless you're Jose Mourinho. Evidently the defence was in shambles at the corner in which Southampton knocked in he equaliser.
Moyes will have to rethink most of his tactics, especially with a potentially tricky Champions League game against Real Sociedad. United fans will remember the last time they played a Spanish team that wasn't Barcelona or Real Madrid.
It was two seasons ago in the Europa League where they got completely outclassed against Athletic Bilbao and Sociedad can pose a similar threat. Moyes' 4-4-2 failed against an organised and well drilled Southampton side and he will know he has to change his system even though they're playing Sociedad at home.
With United looking average, once again, and Adnan Januzaj looking like their best player with a sublime through ball for the opener, it is time to fear for the worst if you're a United fan. With investment in only two players all summer, it simply wasn't good enough to compete with the excellent signings of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Unfortunately for United fans, they must accept it will be a transition season. This season will see Moyes slowly fade Ferdinand and Vidic out of the team and look to give Jones, Smalling, and Evans the chance to cement their first-team places. Through this transition season, United could oddly have some excellent cup runs, as we saw with Chelsea when they won the Champions League.
It is clear it will be a tough season for Manchester United but what the manager, the players, and the fans will wonder is, how long will it last? Liverpool went through a similar phase recently when they sold players such as Xavi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres.
It took them a good three-four years to build the team they have now which will contend for a top six finish. They debatably matched United in the two encounters they've played so far, which shows how much work United will have to do to move back to that next level to contend Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea for the title.
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