Manchester United’s season has hit a new low after our 2-1 defeat to Stoke City yesterday and even the strongest optimists must now question what is going on at the club because with five defeats in our last eight games, United’s form is more akin to a team fighting for relegation than the champions of England looking to retain their title.
What happened at the Britannia was inexcusable – being outplayed and outperformed by a distinctly average Stoke side for 80 minutes should never happen to United, not with the players we have in our side yet strangely, United fans have become desensitised to a poor loss now, we’ve become accustom to it this season. We’ve almost grown to accept it.
I have been a Moyes optimist since the start and remain hopeful, blindly so up until this point, that he would have shown he has the guile to turn it around, to realise his mistakes, correct them and improve but what he showed against Stoke is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel right now.
We’ve had abject performances all season but going into the Stoke game, the pendulum was swinging in our favour. Juan Mata had joined United, we had beaten Cardiff last week and for the first time in 11 matches, we had Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney starting together, a duo who would thrive alongside Mata. To boot, we had Michael Carrick back and our two first choice centre backs were fit. It was one of the strongest sides we had put out all season yet the match proved to be nothing but groundhog day. We had put United’s poor form down to our best players being missing yet when they were all available, the performance was even worse.
Despite the fact it hasn’t worked all season, United played the same drab football that relies exclusively on either getting the ball out wide or it being kicked long in the hope that we could beat Stoke in the air (likely story). We made exactly the same mistakes that we have done all season and that’s why Moyes has forced me to question my belief that he is the right man for the job. United don’t seem to know what else to do.
Nobody can begrudge Moyes for losing some games, you can’t avoid it in football, but it is the manner of our defeats which is the greatest cause for concern. There is no plan B. Tactically, we’re as one-dimensional as Antonio Valencia this season. Moyes has got a squad which has some of the best players in the Premier League and they looked devoid of any creativity, playing football like drones with only one function – kick it long, pass it wide, repeat. That’s where the worry is – nothing looks like changing, it looks like this is how we’re going to play all season.
Richard Cann has hit the nail on the head with his analysis of Moyes’ current situation with United and his concerns should be shared by every United fan right now because so far, Moyes hasn’t shown us any reason to believe that Sir Alex Ferguson made the right recommendation. Unless something changes, the top four will be nothing but a pipe dream for United this year.