Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United's Old Trafford no longer a daunting challenge for visiting sides: Donaghy

By Stuart McKinley

Former Manchester United player Mal Donaghy believes that the Red Devils have lost their fear factor.

Instead he believes that teams travelling to Manchester nowadays are filled with trepidation when they are going to City, while they relish facing United.

New manager David Moyes had been under fire in the opening months of his reign, after taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson last summer, but seemed to be winning over the fans until a Premier League defeat at home to Tottenham on New Year's Day was swiftly followed by Sunday's FA Cup exit at the hands of Swansea – also at Old Trafford.

West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Newcastle United have also won away games against United this season.

"Manchester United have now lost four of their last six home games and the fans aren't used to that," said Donaghy.

"Over the last 20 years or so it's been more like one home defeat a season.

"Teams are now going to Manchester and whereas before they would have feared United, they now dread playing City because of the excellent home record that they have."

Donaghy, however, does expect Moyes to be a success at Old Trafford, but he will need to have a a fully fit squad available to do so.

Now working for the Irish FA, Donaghy, who was at United when Sir Alex Ferguson led the team to an FA Cup triumph in 1990, before they went on to dominate English football for the next two decades, is, however, ruling out a quick fix to all the club's problems.

Instead he believes that with the squad needing major investment it will take until next season at the earliest before Moyes can be judged.

"The facts are that the team is in transition and one of the main difficulties for David Moyes is that he hasn't been able to play Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie together very often," said Donaghy.

"If he can get those two fit then I can't see them having too many problems.

"Without them though the team hasn't scored too many goals and when you aren't scoring it puts an onus on the defence and goalkeeper to keep clean sheets – there haven't been too many of those either.

"He signed Marouane Fellaini, but he has been out injured. It takes players time to settle at a big club like Manchester United too.

"I remember being told when I went there from Luton Town that it would take me a year to settle. I looked at them thinking 'do you know what you're talking about' but it was true.

"As well as that replacing someone like Paul Scholes is nigh on impossible. He has Darren Fletcher back after his illness, but to expect him to carry the team after being out for so long is unrealistic.

"Michael Carrick, who has been influential over the last couple of seasons, has been missing too, so David Moyes has had problems in midfield as well as up front.

"There are problems at the back too. Rio Ferdinand is past his sell buy date and injuries have caught up with Nemanja Vidic.

"Jonny Evans has been probably the one constant through the spine of the team, other than the goalkeeper David de Gea.

"If he can get a consistent spine and good players around it and the fans show some patience then I think David Moyes will sort things out.

"He has said the players he wants won't be available in this transfer window, so he has a big summer ahead and then it will be time to judge him."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph