Manchester United are clearly in an unfamiliar position leading up to the Christmas period.

It is however, not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford.  To begin with, this is the team that won the title by 11 points just last season. These are players with numerous titles between them, and hundreds upon hundreds of international caps.  The team has not become average overnight.

Without becoming premature in the summation of Manchester United's failings, it is essential to look at potential ways that United can improve to ensure that a top four finish is secured.

Let's just remember, this is only December, and just less than two-thirds of the season still remains.

United have played all of their title challenging opponents, which can not be said for some of the other teams. Moyes also has the prospect of silverware in three different competitions, with a League Cup quarter-final on the horizon and the FA Cup, which starts for the Red Devils in early January.

Let's not also forget the Champions League, which has seen United reach their final group game still unbeaten. Victory in any of these will be seen as success, given that he couldn't win any of these with his Everton team.

Moyes also has, despite widespread condemnation, a very strong squad.  Starting with the goalkeeper, David de Gea has proved over the past 18 months just why Sir Alex Ferguson spent upwards of £18 million to secure his services as a raw 21-year-old back in 2011.  Now in his third season at Old Trafford, his worth is becoming apparent to the team.

Moving to the defence, again there are positive signs. 2012/13 was Jonny Evans' best in a United shirt, and played a huge part along with Rio Ferdinand and De Gea in providing a strong backline en route to the title. His appearances this year have been rather sporadic, but when given the opportunity, he has excelled.

Michael Carrick has again, prior to his injury, proved his worth to the United first team. Carrick is seen as the man to hold the midfield together, a perfect screener for the defence and with an array of passing attributes that sets him above from the rest of the United midfield.

Manchester United's front line hardly needs an introduction. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are two of the best strikers in world football, and are beginning to form a partnership that is telling of their individual abilities also.

Javier Hernandez too deserves a mention, one of the best poachers around, and a great impact substitution who has defenders on the back-foot at all times.

This outlines that David Moyes has a very good spine to his team, and fitness permitting, can be ever-stays in the team and rejuvenate United's push for European football next term.

There are still concerns about United's chances of reaching the top four  this season however, with this being United's worst opening 15 games to a season in 12 years. There are further reasons for positivity about United reaching the Champions League though, but there is of course room for improvement.

The defence has become a bit of a concern of late.  Patrice Evra has shown great form, but the constant changing of the centre-back pairing and the right-back slot, has shown great inconsistency. This is where Moyes has to be strong and decisive. A solid centre-back partnership is essential, and he must decide on his first choices sooner rather than later.

Also to consider isMoyes' tactical preference.  The majority of the season has seen United using a flat 4-4-2 formation, with the emphasis on wide players with pace getting down the by-line. In years gone by, this has been United's forte, but football has changed, with possession and pressing now key to being successful.

Moyes must know that his midfield is weak, and the time should come for him to play two holding midfielders who can protect the back-line, and play with 3 attacking midfielders, effectively in a free-role behind a central striker.

Not only will this help with United's attempts to keep possession and build attacks with the ball, but ir will also combat the majority of opposition who also play this way. United are often outplayed in the centre of the park, and this is a way of ending that particular fault.

This has just been a list of various ideas that I believe would culminate in seeing Man Utd get back to winning ways, but the combination of these points will highlight the one thing United need.

Fear factor.

Teams are no longer scared to go to Old Trafford. Away teams used to turn up and shut up shop, and play for a nil-nil. This is no longer the case.  A few victories and some possession based, strong defensive football with a lot of goals will see this materialise. The fans, of both United and the away teams, will begin to sense the fear factor becoming fruitful at Old Trafford.

Manchester United's season from here on in rests upon the shoulders of one man.  David Moyes has to come out fighting and look to change what has continually gone wrong this season. Let's hope that by May, he is the one smiling.

Topics:
Premier League
Manchester United
Football