Belfast Telegraph

David Moyes' ailing Manchester United are becoming the Roger Federer of football

By Steven Beacom

Another game at Old Trafford. Another defeat for Manchester United.

It's become embarrassing. They are being laughed at now.

The Christmas decorations are barely down and already David Moyes has watched his side lose FIVE times on home turf this season.

When Sir Alex Ferguson was manager of United, I wrote that he was worth 20 points per Premier League campaign to the Red Devils.

That's beginning to look like a conservative estimate.

Ferguson's start at Old Trafford didn't point to the glory days that were ahead, but even so it took him 44 games before United lost a handful of matches at home – Moyes has managed it in just 16!

It was always going to be testing replacing an influential, iconic figure like Ferguson, but I bet Moyes never thought it would be as difficult as this.

He looks more bewildered with every passing failure.

The aura, created by Sir Alex, surrounding United in particular at Old Trafford, disappeared when he left the dug-out for the directors box.

For years opposition sides would arrive at the Theatre of Dreams beaten before they had stepped off the team coach. A narrow defeat was considered a positive result for them. That fear factor no longer applies.

Just about every side in the land feels they can go to Old Trafford these days and win.

United have become the Roger Federer of football, no longer viewed as an unbeatable force, the best around who swagger on to the playing surface and swagger off it an hour and a half later having dished out a sporting lesson.

They are the big name there for the taking, even by foes who just a year ago felt they didn't stand a chance.

So, can United halt this downward spiral?

Moyes and the club's hierarchy must provide answers – and quickly.

United are one of the biggest sporting institutions on the planet. They need to act like it and bring in high class players who can make a difference and stop the slide.

They can't afford to wait until the summer because if they do they'll not qualify for the Europa League, let alone the Champions League.

Should that happen, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, both of whom have been absent too much with niggly injuries which hasn't helped the manager or team's cause, will be off quicker than you can say 'here's my transfer request'.

Last season's United team was Ferguson's worst ever to win the title. It needed freshening up but only battering ram Maroune Fellaini, at an overpriced £27.5m, arrived in the last transfer window.

That was a major mistake, which needs rectified.

Moyes says it's tricky buying players in January. Not if you throw down offers that can't be refused.

United should be enquiring about Chelsea's Juan Mata, they should be putting in a £35m bid for Atletico Madrid's brilliant Diego Costa and telling Southampton there's £15m with add-ons for their gifted left back Luke Shaw.

And that's just for starters.

Get top players in, then if the manager can't produce a successful side, it will be time for him to go.

Maybe Moyes, a genuinely decent bloke, could do with falling out with the media too. Some of Fergie's old siege mentality is clearly required.

Belfast Telegraph

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