Belfast Telegraph

Shambolic Manchester United in spiral of decline

By Steven Beacom

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Manchester United, it did.

What happened at Old Trafford last night took this shocking, shambolic season for the Red Devils to a new low.

It wasn't so much the fact that United went out of the League Cup to Sunderland at the semi-final stage, because the way the campaign has gone that was always possible, it was the manner of the exit and the way they were eliminated.

This was a side that relished the pressure.

Now they simply can't handle it.

The United we came to know and love (or hate) under Sir Alex Ferguson were fearless, flawless and fantastic in high pressure matches like this.

With David Moyes at the helm they are flat, feeble and frightened.

We all know when Fergie left it was the end of an aura, but did any of us really think United would become as painfully bad as this?

Walking ashen-faced towards the tunnel at the end of one of the worst, yet wonderfully compelling, penalty shoot-outs in history Moyes looked like a lost soul.

Even Liverpool supporters must have felt a tinge of pity for the bewildered ex-Everton boss, whose dream job really has turned into a nightmare.

He needs to wake up fast. So do his board because while the current batch of players managed to deliver trophies with Ferguson, there's no way they'll do that with Moyes as boss.

The arrival of the gifted Juan Mata from Chelsea should only be the start. United need more high class players to stop the almost weekly humiliation.

Even with that it may not stop Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney (when are those two going to be fit?) demanding transfers in the summer when Thursday night fixtures in the Europa League are on the agenda... if United qualify that is.

Supremely gifted teenager Adnan Januzaj may not want to hang around either especially if Barcelona or Real Madrid come sniffing.

Right now United are on a slippery slope. They actually won the game 2-1 last night but didn't deserve to after another pitiful performance, illustrating the lack of quality and belief in the squad.

Going ahead early in the game through Jonny Evans should have given them some of the latter but instead of standing tall and going on and battering weak opposition they went into their shell giving the visitors confidence encouraging them to attack.

That they did but Gus Poyet's team are so average, for all their possession, they only had ONE shot on target in 120 minutes of football and it was a pathetic effort from Phil Bardsley yet still ended up in United's net after David De Gea's howler.

When the tie went to penalties, after Januzaj created a last gasp goal for Javier Hernandez in 'Fergie time', Sunderland only scored TWO times from five attempts which was still twice as many as United.

The spot-kicks from those in red were so alarmingly poor you wondered if they'd ever seen a ball before let alone strike one!

Rafael's weak hit, easily saved, eventually ended the contest and piled the pressure and misery on Moyes.

United are, to put it simply, a mess. Right now everyone is wondering if Moyes truly is the man to clear it up.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph