Six reasons for the crisis at Old Trafford under Moyes
Robin van Persie's injuries, a lack of summer signings, no luck, imagination or fighting spirit and too many changes to blame for Man Utd's slump under new manager
1. Failure to strengthen
The impact of Manchester United’s woeful summer transfer strategy is now beginning to be felt.
Having inherited a squad with many key players in their thirties and others who are simply not up to the job, David Moyes failed to strengthen sufficiently.
The Scot can legitimately point to an inexperienced chief executive Ed Woodward as a mitigating factor, but the buck stops with the manager and he should have been more forceful in terms of getting the players he wanted.
Why did United and Moyes dither over a move for Leighton Baines, why did they spend so long chasing Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo and, ultimately, why did they pay over the odds to sign Marouane Fellaini?
2. Van Persie injuries
Robin van Persie played every game for United as they won the title last season and his goals, many in the dying stages of games, turned draws into victories.
He was United’s talisman, but injuries have kept the Dutchman sidelined this term and his outing against Newcastle, when he looked short of fitness, was his first for a month as a result of a groin injury.
There has been a lack of continuity up front and too much of a burden placed on Wayne Rooney's shoulders in Van Persie’s absence.
The shortcomings of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez have been exposed when United have been without Van Persie in the starting line-up.
3. No fighting spirit
After half a season under Moyes, it appears as though ‘Fergie Time’ died out when Sir Alex Ferguson vacated the manager’s office.
Once famed for securing draws or victories with late fightbacks, United have had none under Moyes and, more worryingly, they have thrown away victories against Southampton and Cardiff this season by conceding injury-time equalisers.
United appear leggy and out of steam in the final stages of games, so is that down to Moyes’s more demanding training regime or opponents sensing weakness and pushing on, rather than sitting back?
Belief has dwindled away from Moyes’s players and even the Old Trafford crowd appears to have given up judging by the vast empty spaces late on against Newcastle.
4. No imagination
Moyes had good reason to pursue Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera during the summer transfer window because United’s midfield has proven to be worryingly short of imagination and craft this season.
They have become predictable and the over-reliance on Michael Carrick has been emphasised since the England player underwent an Achilles procedure last month. Without Carrick, United have collected just two points from four games.
Beyond Carrick, the cupboard is bare. Tom Cleverley has made little priogress, Fellaini has endured a nightmare, while Anderson continues to offer nothing.
Ryan Giggs, at 40, has been United’s best midfielder after Carrick and that is worrying sign.
5. Too many changes
Moyes has pointed to United being in a period of transition following Ferguson’s retirement, but has he contributed to the uncertainty by making so many changes behind the scenes in the summer?
Ferguson had attempted to prepare the club for his departure by installing coaches who could remain in place to ensure a smooth transition, but Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele were all moved on and replaced by Moyes’s Everton staff.
None of Jimmy Lumsden, Steve Round, Chris Woods or Phil Neville has coached at Champions League level and neither had Moyes, so he replaced Ferguson’s brains trust with a staff of men unproven at the highest level.
As a result, many United players have more experience than the coaches charged with improving and inspiring them.
6. Luck has run out
Blaming bad luck is usually the first excuse of the ill-prepared, but Moyes may have good reason to cite poor fortune as a factor in United’s slump.
Against Everton in midweek, United hit the woodwork twice before succumbing to Bryan Oviedo’s late goal and they struck the post against Newcastle before falling to Yohan Cabaye’s goal on Saturday.
United have lost key men such as Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick for key games this season and their absences have proved decisive.
Moyes also argued that United were dealt a tough start to the season, but the counter-argument would be that Manchester United should talk themselves up rather than worry about the hand dealt to them.