Giggs demands response from players
Ryan Giggs has demanded an instant response from Manchester United after suffering yet another body blow to their Premier League title aspirations.
Good enough to smash five past Bayer Leverkusen in one of the all-time great European performances barely a week ago, Wednesday's 1-0 home defeat by Everton means they have collected just two points from their past three games.
They currently lie ninth in the table and their tally of 22 points from 14 games represents their worst return since the start of the 2001-02 campaign, when they ended up finishing third, 10 behind champions Arsenal.
It is not what United imagined the situation would be despite the obvious upheaval created by Sir Alex Ferguson's exit and everyone at Old Trafford recognises the form must be reversed quickly if the club are to stand any hope of retaining their crown.
"We have to pick ourselves up," said Giggs.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves for too long. We have a home game against Newcastle on Saturday and hopefully we will get a different result.
"We were on a pretty good run. We just have to get over this disappointment now and get on another."
As he is also a member of David Moyes' coaching team, Giggs knows where United's present problems lie.
Yet again on Wednesday, they were guilty of wasting opportunities, which left them vulnerable to a late goal, which duly arrived when makeshift full-back Antonio Valencia failed to track Bryan Oviedo, leaving the Costa Rican unmarked at the far post to finish off Romelu Lukaku's mis-hit shot.
It leaves United 12 points adrift of leaders Arsenal and five behind Liverpool, who occupy the final Champions League berth.
But Giggs is not panicking.
"The gap is bridgeable," said the veteran Welshman.
"Hopefully we can start picking up points again but we will get a better idea come the new year.
"We have had a few disappointing results over the last couple of weeks.
"The performances haven't been that bad. Maybe we are just not getting the rub of the green or taking our chances when we should.
"It is the story of a few games this season. When we have been on top we have not taken our chances. If you do that in this league you are going to get punished."
For obvious reasons, Giggs has to stress the positives.
Yet, with Wayne Rooney suspended after picking up his fifth booking and a date for Robin van Persie's return following groin and toe problems still shrouded in mystery, the backdrop to Newcastle's weekend visit remains gloomy.
Indeed, with so many rivals looking strong, it is not certain United will even get back into contention for a top four berth, let alone get any higher.
"I don't think they will win the league and they may even struggle for the top four," Robbie Fowler told BBC Match of the Day.
"I know people will say I am an ex-Liverpool player but Manchester United have been a little bit poor this year."
It is an assessment shared by many, including some rather closer to the Old Trafford scene than Fowler.
Inevitably, Moyes has started to receive some criticism from United fans, who have singled out his only significant signing Marouane Fellaini, plus England duo Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley for criticism.
At Everton, Moyes did have a history of starting seasons slowly, then coming with a run at the end.
He can only hope that same style has followed him down the East Lancs Road because failure to qualify for the Champions League, whilst not catastrophic financially, would be a significant blow to United's prestige and affect their attractiveness for potential new signings.
"When you are behind in the Premier League and trying to catch four or five teams who are above you that you feel are genuine contenders, it is difficult," former striker Lou Macari told MUTV.
"You cannot afford to slip up.
"A draw would have been a bit of a disaster. This was a defeat.
"If you look at the league table just now you think how can you get back at all those in front of you."