As the Premier League season ticks over Manchester United find themselves in 12th place and eight points off the pace setters Arsenal.
The Red Devils still have plenty of time to rectify the situation but the performances of the champions have been concerning. With a top six that this year appears hungrier than ever for success, David Moyes must resolve United's issues or face missing out on a top four spot.
Moyes has found adapting to life at Old Trafford tricky to say the least with three defeats in his opening six Premier league games. United had appeared to have recovered form the 4-1 mauling at the hands of City with a vital if not convincing 1-0 Carling Cup victory over Liverpool. However, a shock 2-1 home loss to West Brom has once again highlighted the cracks in United's team.
Against City, United were well and truly outclassed by a superior team and Moyes lost the tactical battle as the Red Devils' midfield was bypassed on multiple occasions by the more fluid City midfield.
The West Brom result in itself is enough to cause concern but it was the manner in which the Red Devils' played which will leave the fans feeling nervous. The side looked sluggish and predictable and failed to create any genuine scoring chances. On top of this the defence was once again poor and in truth United never looked like winning, something that is almost unheard of at Old Trafford.
United's lack of creativity has been a problem throughout the season with half of the eight goals they have scored in the league coming directly form free kicks or the penalty spot. Perhaps the only redeeming feature in Moyes' fledgling United career is the resurgence in form of Wayne Rooney and he deserves credit for holding onto the England forward and getting him playing at a level that suggests he is once again focused on the United cause, something Ferguson himself struggled with.
Moyes has this week been critical of his side stating that "we are just not playing that well" and has questioned his sides ability to match Europe's leading sides commenting that "to win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players" and that United have "not got that". the decision to publicly question the quality of his squad may come as a shock to players who were never so openly criticised by their previous manager.
But how can Moyes question the ability of a group of players who last year won the league by 11 points.
Perhaps this is the biggest issue Moyes faces. The problems in the United side are not new ones Ferdinand and Vidic have been on the decline for years and United have been in need of quality in the centre of midfield for a good number of seasons. However under Ferguson
these issues became far less noticeable as United would grind out results and
show a passion to win that has been absent so far this term.
Ferguson had the ability and experience to get every bit of quality and commitment out of a group of players. Fergie was also the master of rotation keeping players ready and willing to fight for the United cause whenever they were required. This is something that Moyes has struggled with early in his united career.
Moyes' questioning of his squad will once again shine light upon what was an all too publicly failed transfer window. With the other clubs in the top six strengthening significantly meaning United may face a battle for a top four spot in a season that promises to be one of the most competitive in years. If United cannot resolve their issues before Christmas they could find themselves with a battle to remain in one of the Premier League box seats come the end of the season.
As David Moyes left the Old Trafford pitch to what was a somewhat subdued and concerned sounding Old Trafford crowd it is important for United fans to remember the words of Sir Alex Ferguson when addressing the Old Trafford faithful at the end of last season: "I'd also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me. Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is
All-in-all David Moyes' Manchester United career will not be defined by his first six Premier League games and he was given a six year contract as a sign that the board will be patient with the Scot. It may however play a huge role in the short term fortunes of a club that is used to being at the top of the pile.
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