Jan 5, 2014, 2:33 PM EST
Everyone knew it would be an adventure this year when Manchester United trekked on without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.
After all, he’s all they’d known since 1986, their guiding light during the ups and the downs – of which there were many, many more ups than downs.
But nobody knew it would be this bad.
The league has been tough enough this season, losing to Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle, and West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. Last year they lost a total of three matches at home all year.
But now, with Manchester United currently languishing in seventh place in the league – completely new for them, having finished in a Champions League position in every season since the Premier League’s inception – they’re out of the FA Cup in just the third round in painful fashion.
Fabio received a straight red card for this potentially knee-capping studs-up tackle on Jose Canas – just four minutes after Moyes plucked him off the substitute’s bench – and the inevitable hammer dropped in the 90th minute when Wilfried Bony headed Swansea through to the fourth round.
Many have criticized Moyes’ ability to manage the game on the field for United, picking apart his reactionary rather than proactive tactics. However, today, with his substitute receiving the straight red, critics now have ammunition pointing directly at the manager.
It was a puzzling substitution in the first place. Looking to add an attacking flair with the game mired at 1-1, Da Silva replaced Rio Ferdinand, moving Jonny Evans into the center of defense and using the new addition as a wing-back.
Problem is, he had plenty of better options. Moyes had already made a positive change, removing the wasteful Valencia in favor of young starlet Adnan Januzaj. But with Wilfried Zaha still on the bench, Moyes chose instead for Fabio.
It made some sense, as natural center-back Jonny Evans offers little in the attack and Moyes wanted to avoid a reverse fixture. But the removal of Ferdinand blew up his own defensive shape, and with Fabio sent off the back f̶o̶u̶r̶ three was in shambles.
Ok, so Ferdinand was injured, you tell me. It forced Moyes hand. No matter, he finished the game with a substitution in hand. He didn’t even make the obvious change after Fabio’s red…oh wait, Fabio was the only defender on United’s bench. There’s a whole separate issue. Sure, Vidic and Evans are injured. But then why is he starting three CB’s if there’s no cover? The squad is a mess.
It’s just the second time in the last 30 years that United have found themselves unable to progress through the third round, the only other blip being Leeds in 2010.
So where do they go from here? They can still certainly get themselves back into the Champions League positions – something vital if they intend on scattering the vultures extending Wayne Rooney‘s contract beyond next season.
However, it’s apparent the current squad isn’t going to get it done. What changes need to be made in January? As much as many fans wish they could, a complete squad overhaul isn’t something that the January transfer window typically lends itself to.
So can David Moyes, known for making cakes out of crumbs at Everton, work his January magic at Old Trafford? It certainly hasn’t worked on the pitch so far for the 50-year-old Scot, so he has to get it done off the pitch.
It’s hard to imagine the board would make a managerial change at such a crucial time in the season, so the job is likely Moyes’ to see through.
But with so much riding on the next few months, there are some crucial decisions that have to be made soon – decisions that will have enormous consequences, positive or negative.
Nov 26, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Is the FA getting too involved in non-events?
Nov 26, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
Wenger was in good spirits following his side’s victory that put an end to his two-match losing skid.
Nov 26, 2014, 9:50 PM EST
Yes, Barkley dove and yes, (news flash) Martinez is overly protective of his players.
Nov 26, 2014, 9:10 PM EST
Thigh injury sidelines Moses for 8 weeks.
Nov 26, 2014, 8:32 PM EST
“I feel that right now I am playing some of the best football of my career,” Fabregas said.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:38 PM EST
“It goes without saying, I’d love to come,” Heskey told BBC Radio Leicester.
Nov 26, 2014, 6:44 PM EST
Poor Franck. All fired up and not even on the 23-man shortlist.
Nov 26, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Can Liverpool build off this draw in Sofia? Their manager Brendan Rodgers has cause for optimism.
Nov 26, 2014, 5:21 PM EST
All the action from the penultimate games in Groups A-D, as two teams booked their spot in the last 16.
Nov 26, 2014, 5:19 PM EST
The raid on Southampton continues, as their recruiting guru heads to Spurs.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:43 PM EST
It was an upbeat display from the Gunners, who move on to the Champions League knockout stage.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:42 PM EST
Reds cough up late goal, but can still advance to the last 16 of the UCL with a win over Basel in their final group game.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:10 PM EST
Watch Ronaldo go level with Raul as he puts some pressure on Messi.
Nov 26, 2014, 3:41 PM EST
Good start for the Arsenal, scoring early through Yaya Sanogo.
Nov 26, 2014, 3:10 PM EST
As Tottenham continue to struggle, Mauricio Pochettino believes his team needs more rest between competitions.
Nov 26, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
The Zenit skipper earned three points for the home side as Benfica’s Champions League dreams ended in St. Petersburg.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:58 PM EST
Follow all the action from the UCL’s eight games on Wednesday, right here.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:13 PM EST
Former Reds’ goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar had some choice words for the struggling Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s tumultuous season continues.
Nov 26, 2014, 12:29 PM EST
The Bayern star was outshone by Sergio Aguero’s hat trick in Munich’s 3-2 loss to Manchester City.
Nov 26, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
Stoke City will be without their on-loan winger as the Nigerian international is sidelined with a thigh injury.
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