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.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
There’s a new top-four team in Spain, while little has changed in Italy, both for good and bad.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:28 PM EST
Two of eight quarterfinals places were clinched on Sunday as the late drama continues at AFCON 2015.
Jan 25, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
A work permit still must be obtained, but Arsenal is on the cusp of securing some defensive depth.
Jan 25, 2015, 2:07 PM EST
With 10 goals in his last six games, all of that is coming to a screeching halt.
Jan 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EST
After yesterday’s FA Cup craziness, things were restored to normal today as all three Premier League sides went through, despite some nervy moments.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:43 AM EST
Anderlecht fans responded to their former player – now with their arch rivals – in a very mean way. Defour reacted accordingly.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:46 AM EST
Four goals in his last four games has Paul Pogba on top of the world.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:16 AM EST
Aston Villa secured the services of midfielder Fabian Delph, and while that should have been an exciting announcement, the club blew it up a little too much and it fell flat on its face.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:23 AM EST
Mohamed Salah just needed signatures to make him a Roma player, but now the Italian club could be headed in a different direction.
Jan 25, 2015, 7:52 AM EST
Which is Balotelli and which is the practice dummy? It sounds like it’s harder for Brendan Rodgers to tell every day.
Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST
The bitterness is flowing freely from Falcao’s agent as he plots the Colombian striker’s next move to a “world’s best-seven team.”
Jan 24, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
If MLS is good enough for Italian national teamers, why isn’t it good enough for U.S. national teamers?
Jan 24, 2015, 7:45 PM EST
Barcelona were stunning as they put a half-dozen past Elche, while Real stumbled to victory. Elsewhere, AC Milan are very bad.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:04 PM EST
The Baby Yanks are headed back to the Big Dance this summer.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:45 PM EST
A number of PL giants fell on Saturday, leaving Arsenal, West Ham and Aston Villa shaking in their boots.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:54 PM EST
The squad is set for the first games of 2015, following a late addition and a number of cuts.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:20 PM EST
After four games played, absolutely nothing separates any of the four teams in Group D. Nothing.
Jan 24, 2015, 3:23 PM EST
“Frustration is not the right word, embarrassed would be more appropriate.”
Jan 24, 2015, 2:51 PM EST
Catch up on all the latest rumors and gossip, right here.
Jan 24, 2015, 2:08 PM EST
Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off for Real Madrid, but Gareth Bale saved three points with a late-game penalty.
- Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Congo, Equatorial Guinea victorious in group finales, advance 0
- FA Cup Roundup: Upsets halted with West Ham, Villa, Arsenal wins 1
- Rodgers says Balotelli needs to vastly improve before playing for Liverpool 1
- Italy head coach Antonio Conte supports Sebastian Giovinco’s move to MLS 9
- USMNT U-20s defeat El Salvador, 2-0, qualify for 2015 U-20 World Cup 2
- Jurgen Klinsmann names 23-man roster for USMNT friendlies vs. Chile, Panama 0