Can Moyes save the sinking ship?

JOHANNESBURG - Kingdoms come, and kingdoms come to an end.

This scenario is playing itself out in the English Premiership where defending champions Manchester United are being made to look very ordinary. It’s scary.

They might have salvaged some pride on Wednesday night when they overcame a 2-0 first leg deficit to defeat Olympiakos 3-2 on aggregate in the European Champions League to reach the last eight, thanks to Robin van Persie’s hat-trick. But still, that seems a temporary reprieve in a season in which fans are witnessing a spectacular fall of a giant.

Here are the all-conquering champions who, during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, were winning titles for fun.

But since walking away from what he termed his lifetime passion (coaching), Man U has looked so average, it is worrying.

Only last Sunday, the Old Trafford side were put to sword by their bitterest rivals Liverpool. So disappointing were Man U that the 3-0 scoreline does not even tell the whole story. Apart from missing a third penalty, Liverpool was all over United who could only muster a single shot at goal.

And to be brutally trampled in their own cauldron like that was unheard of during Sir Alex Ferguson’s era. The manner of defeat was described by Wayne Rooney as shocking and the worst since arriving in Manchester.

There are fears that Manchester’s season is imploding big time and that this might set the beginning of the shift of balance in the English Premiership.

It was uncommon for teams to travel to Old Trafford and come out with a point. But already this season, small teams, some even battling relegation have come away from England’s once most feared Theatre of Dreams not with a single point, but all three on offer.

Now the question fans are grappling with is: ‘Is this the beginning of the end of the two decades of Man U’s total supremacy?’

Will they be a force to reckon with next season? Is coach David Moyes the right man for the job or he is out of his depth? The way Moyes trudged off the stadium at the final whistle on Sunday told a story of a man who had underestimated the magnitude of the job he was taking up.

There has been talk from the owners that they might be a clean sweep of the playing personnel and that the team intends bringing in big names. But will that change this season’s trend in which Old Trafford is no longer a fortress it used to be?

Note, this is the same group that won the English title in style last season and have had even a few additional in Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini.

One can argue that while log leaders Chelsea have had also a poor squad on paper, coach Jose Mourhino has been grinding some results and the same is expected of Manchester United’s calibre.

They might have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League but the overall play was far from convincing to frighten the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Barcelona of this world.

The truth is change is needed at United.

They lie 12 points off the top four spot to qualify for the Champions League and unless they chalk off spectacular victories till the end of the season, this looks like a pipe dream.

The way Man U is sliding into the doldrums this week forced one journo to acclaim that “United we fall.”


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