The most storied club in all of European football; the legendary Manchester United have seemingly stumbled into mid-table mediocrity this season after a number of troublesome results in all competitions.
Everybody knows the story: the Manchester maestro Sir Alex Ferguson handed the United reigns over after 27 years in charge to his wildly-excited Scottish successor David Moyes, who took the job after an impressive 11 year run at Everton.
No one, I repeat, no one, thought that Moyes was going to immediately step into the front office and run things as if his predecessor had never left, but even his critics thought United were going to be in a better position than where they are currently.
His personal frustration is starting to reflect in the media as well, after being charged twice this season, including Wednesday's fine, by the FA for misconduct towards referees,
Most English clubs would love to be the defending champs, in the Champions League round of 16 and sitting in 7th place in the table. But Manchester United are NOT most English clubs.
Old Trafford used to be a ground that installed terror and disheartening frustration for visiting teams, but now it looks like an inviting play ground where the beer flows like wine and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano (had to implement a Dumb and Dumber quote in this piece somewhere, right?).
The Red Devils are 6-4-2 (won six, drew two, lost two) at home in the Premier League, and I'm no mathematician but that's only 20 points out of a possible 36. Their lack of form at home showed in the FA Cup as well on January 5 when Swansea City beat United 2-1 in the third round.
Injuries have played a huge part in United's slip this season, as is usually the case. Striker Robin van Persie has only featured in 11 Premier League games this season due to injury, and without their leading scorer, United have suffered.
Marouane Fellaini has been nothing short of a flop for Moyes after being a crucial cog in Everton's success last season. The £27.5million centre midfielder has played in only eight Premier League games after a wrist injury in October, and has done nothing but frustrate supporters and management after his disgustingly overvalued transfer in August.
Another area of concern for Moyes and United is their seemingly absent ability to lure players to the club. Paul Pogba has said repeatedly that he will not leave Juventus, Yohan Cabaye has made no move to leave Newcastle, Leighton Baines just signed a new contract at Everton, and Cristiano Ronaldo has stayed with Real Madrid amidst about a billion rumors linking the 2013 Ballon D'or winner with a move back to his former club.
The other factor that is constantly forgotten is other club's drastic improvement. Everton being the first that comes to mind, along with Newcastle's strong early showings and Southampton's rise to the top half of the table have certainly not made it easier on United through the first 21 matches of the Premier League year.
It hasn't been all negative for United, however. Poster boy Wayne Rooney has been nothing short of fantastic when he's been on the pitch with nine goals and nine assists in the Premier League from 17 appearances.
Besides Rooney, Adnan Januzaj has proven himself repeatedly as one of the best up and coming talents in Europe. The 18-year-old forward has played in 15 Premier League games this season, and has recorded three goals and two assists.
So are United really in decline? No, they're simply too big to ever suffer a complete collapse. That being said, Moyes and co. have some serious work to do if they want to be playing European football next season, but if any club can turn it around, Manchester United can.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU