Manchester United have been granted a brief reprieve with their 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Stoke City today. But for many supporters, the performance of the team for the majority of the match was extremely poor. If it weren’t for the efforts of Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, David de Gea and Chicharito, the Red Devils would have been answering some serious questions following the match at Old Trafford.
For die-hard United supporters, they will be hoping this match is a turning point in the season and the post-Alex Ferguson era. Perhaps the game is invoking thoughts of past United squads who played poorly, but still found ways to leave with the three points. But that answer won’t be clear until the club puts a string of wins together.
As stated in earlier articles, Manchester United’s issues are numerous and have been progressing over time. The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, a lack of activity in the summer transfer window, and David Moyes’ inexperience at a ‘big’ club have all been excuses used by supporters and members of the media.
United has staggered through the early parts of the Premier League season. Stories have been floated by news outlets stating that Manchester United will be investing heavily during the January transfer window. But as most football fans are aware, it is rare and difficult for a club to improve its squad in the winter market.
So for United supporters hoping for a January windfall, here is a message: “Get used to the current players in Manchester United’s squad”. The names won’t be changing and this is the team who will be responsible for any success this season.
The early failures at Old Trafford are not the fault of David Moyes or his tactics. The negative product is direct result of management’s inability to buy top flight talent and the complacency/lack of focus of United players’.
The majority of blame lays on the squad’s shoulders. They openly accepted the challenge after the club’s failure to add quality.
Just after the summer window closed, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: “We’ve got a strong enough squad to win everything.” He went on to say, “We have quality at our disposal. We won the league at a canter last season and we’ve not become a bad team overnight. We believe strongly in what we have got.” His words were echoed by teammates and management.
To their credit, Manchester United players haven’t made excuses during their worst ever start to a Premier League season. Jonny Evans gave an interview to the Daily Mirror this week and said this:
“We are disappointed with our performance – we watched parts of our game back and we know our performance level wasn’t up to scratch,” he explained.
“I think the onus is on the players to step up, and show what we are capable of, as individuals and as a team, especially in possession.
“We have been giving the ball away too sloppily, and we know that as Manchester United, we need to control games in possession. We have to do better.
“As players know we haven’t played well enough, both as individuals and as a team. We have to look at ourselves and raise our performances,” he said.
But these words appear hollow…or a significant portion of the squad just doesn’t feel the same way about things.
These comments were made prior to Manchester United’s game against Stoke City. For the better part of the match versus Stoke, the majority of United player had been continuing to underachieve.
All the motivation and positive quotes are not going to save Manchester United’s season. These players have to regain the fire that was lost. United are being attacked and outworked by their Premier League opponents match after match.
The few positives for the club (the consistent performances of Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, and Adnan Januzaj) have been overshadowed by inconsistent performances, lack of focus, and erratic decision making of players such as Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, and Nani.
Injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have also affected the squad. Manchester United’s defense has been extremely disorganized in their absence. If those two players are going to miss an extended period of time, United supporters had better be patient while the new defensive unit learns to play with each other.
Bottom line for Manchester United is “talk is cheap”. At some point these players are going to have to back their words with strong performances. This doesn’t mean a stretch of good play for 15-20 minutes. The club needs to start stringing concentrated efforts for ninety minutes over a span of five or six games.
The answer to Manchester United’s season lies within the players.