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MCFC

Manchester United Is Facing The Defining Point Of Their Season

manchester united Manchester United Is Facing The Defining Point Of Their Season

With eighteen Premier League matches left in the season, Manchester United trail league leading Arsenal by eleven points and are five points behind Liverpool in the race for the BPL’s final Champions League spot; United would actually need to finish higher than their North West rival because Liverpool currently hold an advantage in goal difference.

The momentum United had built over the past few weeks was abruptly halted by Tottenham on New Year’s Day when Spurs were able to leave Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory; thus ending United’s six match winning streak in all competitions.

With that loss, United’s hopes of regaining their league title have all but vanished.As quickly as United had regained their ‘spirit’, the club was quickly slapped back to reality by Spurs and were reminded that time is slowly ticking away on their Premier League season.

United are failing with their title defense while also engaging in a three-team dogfight with Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham for the league’s final Champions League position; United trail third place Chelsea by nine points.

The club is staring at the possibility of missing out on Europe altogether next season.

Missing out on the Champions League won’t sit well with Manchester United supporters or anyone involved at the club. A section of fans have been voicing their opinions on social media platforms and the consensus is that United have to bring in reinforcements during the January transfer window in order to save this season.

In October 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson was asked about Manchester United’s early form and the legendary manager had this to say in regards to David Moyes’ first season in charge: “For David, winning a trophy would be a fantastic achievement no matter what it is – the League Cup, FA Cup, European Cup or Premier League.” He went on to discuss how difficult it is to compete in all of these competitions before reiterating that winning a cup would be a massive achievement for the club under Moyes.

That’s why Manchester United’s next two fixtures at home to Swansea City and away at Sunderland could be the defining points of their season.

With the Premier League title race all but over (yes, they still have a mathematical chance…), should United lose to Swansea City on Sunday, they would be knocked out of the FA Cup and a second trophy would be crossed off the club’s list.

Two days later, Manchester United travel to the Stadium of Light for the first leg of the League Cup against Sunderland. If United were to lose that match, they would have to beat the Black Cats at Old Trafford; and as United supporters have seen this year, a win at Old Trafford is no longer a ‘guarantee’.

Of course, if Manchester United were to fall short in both of these English competitions they are still in the Last 16 of the Champions League. And regardless of the odds, United still have a favorable tie to look forward to against Olympiacos and anything can happen over two legs in that competition.

But not many would favor United to advance any further than Olympiacos in the tournament. That’s why it is imperative that Manchester United forget about their difficulties in the league and focus all their efforts on beating Swansea City in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

To this point of the season, United have been able to do just that.

In spite of their Premier League struggles, United were one of only three teams to advance through the Champions League group stages undefeated, while also  winning their three League Cup matches (one of which over Liverpool); thus advancing to the semi-final of the English competition. They’ve continued to succeed in these tournaments despite poor league results and numerous injuries to the first team; this is something Manchester United will need to continue to emulate on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney returned to the lineup against Spurs on New Years Eve, but may be rested by David Moyes on Sunday due to the forward’s ongoing groin issues. Ashley Young picked up a shoulder injury against Spurs and will miss the FA Cup tie; while Robin Van Persie, Phil Jones, Rafael de Silva and Nani could all end up short of fitness for the third round encounter.

United’s lineup against Swansea City could resemble the one that faced Stoke City in the League Cup a few weeks ago. The club’s supporters and David Moyes will be hoping that United’s fringe players can equal the performance from that day at the Britannia Stadium.

Unfortunately (despite the cries from various fans on Twitter), United won’t be signing any new players before Sunday’s FA Cup match or prior to Tuesday’s League Cup tie against Sunderland. So once again it’s up to Manchester United supporters to get behind this team and for the players to perform to their abilities. United will have to turn in determined efforts similar to the ones they fulfilled at home against Arsenal (in the Premier League) and away at Stoke City (in the League Cup) in order to keep their hopes of winning silverware alive in 2014.

Depending on the results, the next few days will have a huge say as to whether or not the club will be bringing home any trophies this year.

Editor’s note: For the latest Red Devils opinion, news and analysis, visit the Manchester United team page.

About Peter Quinn

Although a college basketball coach for sixteen years on the NCAA Division I and II levels, Peter has been an avid football fan for more than half his life. He considers himself a student of coaching and team management. As well as coaching, Peter has spent time working in Sports Information at various colleges and universities. His articles on European football have been picked up by International Business Times UK and USA Today. Twitter: @CoachPeteQuinn View all posts by Peter Quinn →

15 Responses to Manchester United Is Facing The Defining Point Of Their Season

  1. goatslookshifty says:

    When Spurs, Chelsea, City, Liverpool and Arsenal all brought in players in the summer and Utd bought only Fellaini, indicated of how the year was going to be. To lose David Gill, SAF and player-known backroom staff was also too much. Some Man Utd players just aren’t quality and some are too old (Rio, Giggs, Evra.) This all cannot be blamed on Moyes but he’s the one with the target on his back. By no means are they in the doldrums and on the road to decline but team restructuring has to take place this summer to compete with the aforementioned clubs next season.

    • Peter Quinn says:

      You nailed it. I actually wrote an article about everything you mentioned back in September. The writing was on the wall, but I (as a United fan) was hoping that the players would play to their potential and AT LEAST secure a CL spot. But they’ve been on and off this season while injuries/poor luck have also taken a toll.

      Still time though.

      But you’re right. The time to fix this team was in the summer. Ownership and management let Moyes down.

      • JJ says:

        I want Moyes to stay this season but to say ownership and management let him down is ridiculous. He let himself down and the club. Fergie left him a broken team but he left him a whole summer transfer window to sign players and he didn’t. Thiago could have been signed but due to Moyes negligence and doubts we never signed him. Real Madrid were willing to sell one of Ozil and Khedira and Moyes turned down Ozil and guess what he tried to hijack the Ozil Arsenal deal which was too far gone and he went in for Khedira after that to which Madrid politely declined the offer. Thats Moyes’s fault not Woodward’s or anyone else’s. Why did he turn down Ozil then go back in for him that makes no sense at all. He let Strootman go to Roma for peanuts and now he’s one of the best midfielders in Serie A and he could have signed Eriksen that plays for Spurs who was available for 11 million. That falls on his shoulders. The Ander Herrera fiasco was all Moyes. He tells Ed Woodward about the guy on Saturday or Friday and the window ended on Monday. Bilbao are extremely difficult to negotiate with and Bayern Munich with perhaps the best transfer team in the world took a month sign Javi Martinez and we make known our interest with 48-72 hours left in the window for the best midfielder of the most difficult team in the world to deal with in terms of transfers. That’s ridiculous imo. Woodward has to take some blame but Moyes dug his own grave with his constantpursuit of three players Fellaini Baines and Fabregas. Don’t get me started on Baines who is 30 or 29 and that’s who he wants to sign for a hefty fee to replace our 32 year old left back. That’s just piss poor from David when Coentrao was available the whole summer for a lesser fee and who is a better and more proven player at the highest level. He goes for Coentrao on the last day of the window with an hour or two left to which the deal couldn’t get done. That’s why I laugh every time a goal gets scored as a result of Evra because Moyes could have replaced him. It was due to his transfer tunnel which was the main reason the summer transfer window was a complete failure.

        • Mufc77 says:

          Don’t forget his two week vacation which seemed to last all summer right after being given the biggest job in football.

        • United58 says:

          The Glazers hiring Woodward, a man with no experience in the transfer market, was Moyes fault? Come on guys.

          Management let Moyes down. Woodward spent the summer chasing Fabregas when everyone knew he was never leaving Barcelona. Then United kept low balling Everton for Baines and ended up overpaying for Fellaini.

          Moyes isn’t in charge of the spending at United.

          That b.s. about United offering Tottenham 100m for Bale was ridiculous. Bale already had a foot in the door at Madrid and everything was pointing towards him going there. Then United decide to come in with a “last second” bid for him? Please.

          Not saying Moyes isn’t at fault. But the transfer market isn’t solely on him. Woodward is unqualified to be handling transfers for Manchester United.

          One mistake I’ve always said Moyes made was not retaining at least some of Fergie’s staff. It’s obvious the veteran players at United aren’t comfortable with the complete overhaul in the coaching staff.

  2. Dean Stell says:

    The thing is that United are just not setting up well right now. They always get over-run in midfield and it isn’t just because their midfielders aren’t awesome. Part of the problem is that there are only TWO of them. When you’re dedicated to playing with wingers like United is, your central midfield is always going to suffer.

    So, the the big questions I’d ask David Moyes if I had the opportunity:

    1). Do you think your wingers have been productive enough to justify ceding the central midfield to the opponent?
    2). Do you think your central midfielders are strong enough to *allow* you to play with wingers?
    3). Your fullbacks push forward and overlap a lot. Do you think your central defenders are fast enough to prevent getting hit on the counter-attack?
    4). Do you think your forwards are well-matched for this sort of wide play you seem to favor? Who is supposed to be putting their head on all these crosses? Why is there only one man in the box every time a cross goes in? Are the players not carrying out your instructions or have you set the side up poorly?

    More and more I’m starting to think that Moyes just isn’t the guy. He is probably a necessary evil for now. No uber-manager wants to follow SAF, so you hire someone like Moyes who is safe and hope for the best. When he doesn’t excel, you can fire him and go hire the uber-manager who will “restore United to former glory”.

  3. Mufc77 says:

    Team rebuilding needs to start this month. You can’t go into the summer market needing to bring in 4-5 players to be competitive. We couldn’t land any of our targets last summer so why should we expect to all of a sudden land 4/5 players this summer when clubs no we need to buy and since its a World Cup year selling teams will jack up the price of players even further. Moyes can’t turn round in the summer and buy 1/2 players and then say he will look to strengthen again in the January 2015 window as he’s already used the “no value” and “clubs don’t want to see their best players in jan” excuse this month.

    Buying 1-2 players this month gives them a full 8 months to adapt to the league and be ready for the start of the 2014/15 season in August. If they end up helping out over the next 4/5 months that’s just a bonus. Moyes is going to find it even harder to attract players in the summer if he can’t offer champions league football so if he has to pay a higher price now then do be it.

    • Dean Stell says:

      Absolutely. Agree 100%. You can’t fix it all at once, but it would be nice to see a positive sign in January than a simple, “Prices were to high.” [shrugs shoulders]

      • Mufc77 says:

        Agreed. Just look at spurs bringing in 6-7 new players all at once in the summer. While I have no doubt individually they are all good players trying to introduce that many players into a new team or system all at once is tough for anyone to do.

        Even if its just 1-2 positions that are reinforced in jan then that’s two less players we need to waste time chasing in the summer. Everyone knows we need two top class central midfielders and if we have to wait until the summer to get the right people then fine but that’s no excuse not to strengthen the left back and left wing positions this month.

    • goatslookshifty says:

      I agree Utd need to rebuild now but unless he has scouts in the far corners of the world, no quality players are on their way to Manchester. A raid of Southampton might be a option but no club in the prem wants to give away half decent talent now. Utd do need Baines though. Evra has been getting turned every week and is an identified liability now. At least Jose recognized Ashley Cole was a step too slow and swapped him with Azpilicueta.

      • Peter Quinn says:

        Yeah. They might pick a player or two that can help, but the names that they really need won’t be available until the summer. And they are really going to have to open the checkbook during the summer window.

        But for now, they need to perform out of their skins on Sunday and Tuesday to keep the dream of some kind of silverware alive for this season.

      • Mufc77 says:

        I don’t think Baines is the answer at left back to be honest. Moyes wants him primarily for his attacking ability down the left hand side when what we really need is fullbacks who can DEFEND first. You can be the best in the world on the attacking side of the ball but if your defending ability isn’t top notch your a liability. Given thats he’s 29 already I’d rather see us find a left back who’s younger and a little more defensively minded but can still get forward when the opportunity presents itself.

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