Manchester United have been accused of deploying Conference-style football against Fulham during the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford that forced midfielder Michael Carrick to claim the club are suffering "setback after setback".
With defender Phil Jones waiting to discover whether he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines because of a hip injury suffered in training last week, United go into tomorrow's Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates lurching into crisis having fallen nine points adrift of Champions League qualification.
Out of both domestic cups and with the Champions League now offering United their only hope of a trophy, manager David Moyes will take his squad to Dubai following the Arsenal game for a training break aimed at re-energising his players.
But with United having failed to defeat Fulham despite delivering 81 crosses into the penalty area on Sunday, Moyes's tactical approach, dismissed as "straightforward" and amounting to no more than "get it wide, get it in", by Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen, has now been derided as similar to the football played in the Conference.
"I was just saying to the lads that I've never headed that many balls since the Conference," said Fulham defender Dan Burn. "But at the end of the day I'm happy for them to play like that. We knew that was going to happen.
"I'm 6ft 7in. It helps when dealing with those sort of balls. They had plenty of crosses, loads of chances and stuff but the second goal was quite lucky. I always felt we had something left. It's the first time I've played against Man U. It's still a massive club and with the players they've got there, they know that they should be doing better."
While Burn later took to Fulham's official website to insist he had not intended to be "disrespectful" towards United, his observations echoed those of Meulensteen, Alex Ferguson's former assistant at Old Trafford.
Carrick admits that the players are at a loss as to why results and performances have been so disappointing in recent weeks.
"I can't really explain how we have ended up with that result," he said. "We thought it was going to turn. We have thought that all season, we still believe it will and we still believe results will come for us. But it seems like setback after setback at the moment.
"We have had success over the years and it comes easy when you have success, but you have to deal with the down times as well. But we will pick ourselves up. That is the business we are in," he added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)