Shambles At Old Trafford: What Gives?

By on March 2, 2014

With Manchester United on course to having their worst season in over 20 years, Rayyan Dabbous gives us his thoughts on where it’s gone wrong.

old trafford

Who would have thought that Manchester United would someday be lying seventh in the Premiership, having been knocked out of the 3rd round of the FA Cup against Swansea and eliminated from the Capital One Cup Semis after a humiliating penalty-shootout defeat to Sunderland?

Since the beginning of the season, I have thought that the cup defeats were just little misfortunes and things would eventually click into gear – but then came that game against Olympiakos. David Moyes’ men were outplayed by the Greeks in a shambolic performance that has put their Champions League dreams on the line with a 2-0 aggregate score that needs to be overcome.

When I saw that United’s last hope was on the verge of being tossed away with the rest of their season’s failed objectives, it occurred to me to reflect on what might be Manchester United’s worst footballing season in the Barclays Premier League and assess whether the shambles at Old Trafford are just an unlucky streak of misfortunes – or that there is actually a reason behind this disaster.

First of all, before looking at the reasons that might have provoked such bad performances, I feel compelled to explore the reason why Manchester United fans have to be worried – should United fail in resurrecting this poor season. The situation seems worse than one would expect. Let’s say United fails to qualify to the next round of the Champions League, why should the fans be worried; their side fell at the same stage last year when they lost against Real Madrid during that epic game at Old Trafford.

Well, unlike this year, Manchester United were marching towards the Premier League title last season. United might have been knocked out early in Europe, but they still went on in enjoying a great farewell for Sir Alex Ferguson by winning their 20th PL title. No one really remembered that dim day at Old Trafford when Madrid came knocking, because United had already guaranteed themselves a good start for the following season – qualifying to this year’s Champions League competition and therefore being able to pit their wits once again against Europe’s finest sides.

But this year, it seems like United won’t be given a second chance or another opportunity to rise in Europe because their chance of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next season is almost zero. They’re sitting 7th in the table, twelve points from 4th place Man City who have a game in hand. Imagine Manchester United without European football. Will they be able to lure big players, or even keep their own? They could ask Liverpool how it’s like to be competing without European adventures: it took them almost six years to re-emerge in the frame of domestic glory and European ambitions.

On the brighter side, Manchester United’s downfall would certainly bring joy to almost every other football fan across the country. Come on, who’s not enjoying this? Well, although I love seeing Man United in trouble, I do want to find a way to remedy their disastrous season – returning them the favor for having let my Swans team go through in the FA Cup after a much-laughable United performance.

So, to begin with, I think that I have realized what has gone wrong with Manchester United this season. We all know that the Theatre of Dreams had to part ways with perhaps its greatest legend – Sir Alex Ferguson. It was quite predictable that his retirement would have a huge impact on the team – and it did, massively.

If I could describe in one word the influence that it had on the club, it would be; lack-of-confidence. I’m not sure if that’s one word, but anyway, that’s pretty much what SAF’s departure provoked in the United dressing rooms. Everyone in the club has been lacking confidence ever since Ferguson stepped down: the manager, the team and the fans. David Moyes has also been lacking confidence – having to carry the burden of succeeding Sir Alex.

The team has been lacking confidence and you could have seen that when they played in Athens on Tuesday. For a team who is one down before half time, why were they passing the ball around the goalkeeper in injury time when they should be attacking? Finally, the fans have been lacking confidence and you could notice that if you’ve ever visited Old Trafford this year as an away fan. Not enough noise, not enough support, and when Old Trafford becomes an easy place to go to, you realize that there’s actually a problem.

Manchester United is a club that is lacking confidence and this absence of will and desire has led them to where they are today: in mid-table, on the brink of having their Champions League dreams destroyed. I wonder whether United will ever be able to solve their problems and get back in the game, but what I do know is that when they realize that it’s actually confidence that they have been lacking, they will then know that the solution was all along under their nose.

How hard is it to retrieve confidence? Well, I know a thing or two about confidence boosts and that it doesn’t need a whole season of remedying, nor waiting to splash out in the next transfer market – it only requires one big performance.

Why do you think United have been so poor this season? Share your views below.

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One Comment

  1. Trevor

    March 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I do not think United will finish in the top ten. When you consider Moyes has the same players he had last season plus a fit Fletcher who was missing last season, also Januzaj, Fellaini and Mata.
    So with ten years experience behind and the Same team that walked the league last season plus four new players I consider Moyes to be a disaster.
    His hunt for players has made Moyes a laughing stock. He is naive and he can not see that Fabregas, and Dante of Bayern were just trying to boost their new contracts and Moyes was just a patsy.
    When you think the last five years of Fergies reign he was only interested in the horses and neglected United. You can see this with the signings he made like Diouf, Obertan Manucha and Bebe. The man was senile.
    He also lost players such as Hargreaves, Park, Fletcher, Scholes for half a season and OShea and never once did he try to replace them

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