Manchester United’s season plummeted to an all-time low after being comprehensively beaten 2-0 by Olympiacos in the first leg of the last sixteen Champions League clash last night.
Manager David Moyes was a helpless spectator throughout, as the likes of Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Robin van Persie toiled in the cauldron of the Karaiskakis Stadium.
And now, as the empire built by Sir Alex Ferguson crumbles and burns like Pompeii, the Scot must gamble and save their season and his own future.
It starts by lessening the intensity of training sessions.
In the most miserable of transitional seasons, United have too often been accused of lacking an extra gear – the ability to up the pace and tempo of the contest.
The last thing a team with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Van Persie, Luis Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young would be called is lacklustre.
But they were on Tuesday evening, slow and sluggish with and without the ball. They looked physically and mentally jaded by the expectations of the club name.
It is common knowledge that Moyes believes training to be an intense, concentrated work-out. He likes to instil his own work-rate into those at his disposal and in his employ.
Rooney and Van Persie, the two lynchpins of the side, have struggled with recurring injuries that may have been avoided had their bodily limits not been so vigorously strained.
To reduce the intensity could mean the side play at a higher tempo with energy conserved from the training sessions and better utilised on the pitch.
It would leave them in the right physical condition for a late season surge, especially when players begin to feel the effects of a season’s work.
One of the criticisms when Ferguson left was that his coaching staff followed him out of the Old Trafford door.
Amongst them were Rene Meulensteen, recently sacked by Fulham, and Mike Phelan.
But a return to the club is still possible.
Both were the pinnacle of their professions. Meulensteen moulded Cristiano Ronaldo into the ultimate footballer, and also worked well with Van Persie, his Dutch compatriot, for the single season the pair were both at the club.
Phelan possessed astute intelligence, and acted as a trusted advisor to Ferguson during the latter years of the Scot’s tenure.
The pair are both out of work, and their experience and knowledge of the club would prove highly beneficial given Moyes and his coaching staff are still adapting to their new jobs.
Carlos Quieroz is another who could be considered, but the Portuguese is preparing for a World Cup with Iran so may prove difficult to persuade.
Moyes must also show his belief in the next crop of United starlets.
Cleverley and Michael Carrick struggled in Greece, whilst summer purchase Marouane Fellaini was deemed good enough only for a place on the substitutes bench.
United boast some promising young prodigies in the shapes of Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard and Daniel Petrucci, who despite their tender years should be given an opportunity to shine.
The Scot’s handling of Adnan Januzaj is evidence that he knows how to correctly manage a delicate player - the sole part of Moyes’ managerial reign that remains flawless.
Failure to address these issues could mean things get even worse for United.
If they do, the voices to sack Moyes will grow steadily louder.
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