Jan 5, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT
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.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT
All the latest gossip, right here.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Galaxy win third-straight, go second in the West as Donovan continues to shine during elongated swansong.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:26 AM EDT
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Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
We continue our look at what each PL team needs to do in the final few days of the window.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT
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Aug 28, 2014, 7:54 AM EDT
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Rooney handed the armband by Hodgson, as new-look England head into a brave new era.
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Aug 27, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
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Aug 27, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT
Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has announced his retirement from international football.
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Aug 27, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
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Aug 27, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
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Aug 27, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT
Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti took the gloves and saved two penalties to help his side advance to the Champions League group stage.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT
Let’s take a look at five more clubs and how they will wheel and deal before the window slams shut.
Aug 27, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT
The loss of Giroud skyrockets the possibility of Wenger soon moving to sign another pure striker.
Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Reports across Europe claim that Xabi Alonso has reached an agreement with Bayern Munich.
Aug 27, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
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Aug 27, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT
Balotelli aims big as new Liverpool signing speaks out.
Aug 27, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT
Guardiola gives Muller a piece of his mind during Bayern’s open practice session.
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- Report: Diego Costa could be out four to six weeks with hamstring injury 1
- Transfer needs – Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City 1
- Olivier Giroud undergoes ankle surgery, out 3-4 months for Arsenal 0