Manchester United, the team who stormed to the title last season and lay as kings of the Premier League as they have done for so many seasons in recent memory, are, to the delight of rival fans and prediction of analysts, struggling in a league they have claimed no less than nine times since the turn of the millennium.
Sir Alex Ferguson, potentially the best manager of all time and the long time steward of United's success for a mesmerising 27 years bid farewell to the footballing world in the summer as his heir apparent was revealed.
Sir Alex promised that man that the squad inherited was a squad that, according to the Scotsman "bodes well for continued success".
The departing boss claimed that 'it was important to [him] to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so' before continuing to say that 'the quality of this league winning squad and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level...'.
How distant a memory the claims seem now. The transition from Sir Alex to David Moyes has been far from smooth. It has been tumultuous, with fans' anxieties becoming realised with United slowly descending down the table - indeed, they now lie ninth in eighth, 10 points behind leaders Arsenal.
The claims seem perhaps distant because they seem so incongruous with what's been happening. But what, or who is to blame?
The responsibility must inevitably fall on the shoulders of the man currently in the hot seat, who himself admitted earlier this week that he takes "complete responsibility" (as quoted by the Telegraph), for the team's recent slump in form that has seen them gain eight points from their last six matches in the league - meaning they gained only one more point than newly-promoted Hull City (or Tigers should I say) as of late.
However, what if the distant claims seem so because really, they were misleading?
It is perhaps something of a taboo to question the doings of undoubtedly one of the best ever managers of all time, and yet one could question whether the squad Moyes inherited was one fully equipped to bring continued success to Old Trafford.
Let's start with the recent transfer dealings: many of United's 'under-performers' were signed under the Fergie era.
Names such as Anderson on whom United forked out £20 million on, a fee that no club now would possibly even consider paying for the Brazilian, spring to mind. Ashley Young, whose career at Old Trafford following a £17million move, had an explosive start at a pace which the England international has failed to maintain, falling down the pecking order to the likes of the 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj.
Moyes' frenzied antics to bring Leighton Baines to the club suggests how lacking United are in the left-back department. Patrice Evra, now 32 years of age has steadily been on the decline, whilst his 'replacement-to-be', Alexander Buttner, another of Fergie's signings, has not impressed or shown signs of being able to hold down a regular first team spot.
There remain other positions not adequately fulfilled in depth or quality by Ferguson - he felt his central midfield options so restricted he recalled Paul Scholes from retirement whilst perhaps he did not best prepare for the injury-riddled declines of both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, once of the world's top central defensive partnerships.
The signing of Wilfried Zaha remains confusing also - though the England U-21 international has youth on his side, for such a substantial fee (£15 million), he has failed to impress thus far.
There have also been some puzzling transfer dealings in terms of players leaving Manchester. Paul Pogba, one of the world's best young talent, would have provided quality in a position severely lacking at Old Trafford had Ferguson not released him to Juventus, where he has become the heir apparent to no other than Andrea Pirlo.
Ravel Morrison is another exciting young talent to have left United: more could have been done to keep the midfielder now impressing at West Ham.
Shinji Kagawa remains a conundrum - is he best behind the striker, and if so, why not play him there more often, rather than being shifted out on to the wing, where perhaps he is less comfortable? The Japanese international, who scored 21 goals in 59 Bundesliga games before moving to United where he has managed only 6 goals in 25 Premier League appearances, was originally played out of position by Sir Alex, who preferred a certain Wayne Rooney in the number 10 role.
Claims of disharmony in Fergie's squad would unjustifiably discredit the great man - and yet, there is no doubt that Moyes inherited a squad under much media scrutiny which may have served to hinder his transfer plans in a summer where the only major addition his squad was Marouane Fellaini, whilst United's rivals bolstered their ranks.
United have in my opinion, a heavily polarised squad. Whilst youth has been cultivated, with young Januzaj catching many's attention, their introduction into the team has been abrupt or non-existent as Moyes prefers to field the experienced likes of Carrick, Giggs, Rooney and others.
Aside from Rooney, United are lacking in truly 'special' quality at the peak of their careers. Robin van Persie, though ever impressive, has perhaps started to dwindle under his plague of injuries which has started to revisit him again - and at the age of 30, one could start to question for how long he can continue to lead the line effectively.
De Gea is still a rising star, and provides a gleam of hope into the future, though his defenders in the form of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand provide me with examples of declining areas of United's squad with no solutions in place.
United's midfield is convoluted with players not fulfilling expectations. Nani, once considered Ronaldo's successor, has continued to show little to show this comparison, whilst Ashley Young's performances as of late have been dire and riddled with 'simulation'.
Michael Carrick had an outstanding season, but has not shown such form recently, and injuries may have caught up to him, whilst Fellaini has been less than impressive following a £27.5 million move.
It seems to me, at least, that had Sir Alex provided a more stable platform for which Moyes could build on his legacy, United would not lie ninth in a league they are so accustomed to winning.
But that's just my opinion. Feel free to rip it apart, United fans.
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