After United's painfully slow start which has seen them casted adrift from the top, memes such as the one above have become quite the internet sensation. However, while humorous, memes like this are pure sensationalism and do not paint the full picture.
I wrote an article refuting United's title chances, two weeks later it appears my greatest fears for United have come to fruition after underwhelming results against Cardiff, Tottenham, Everton and now Newcastle.
In the article I expressed two key reasons why United will not be anywhere near the title picture:
The Shadow of Fergie
"Like Moyes, Ferguson's greatest skill was being able to instill arrogance into his players, getting them to believe they were better than what they were. The result was an unwavering determination to see the game out until the final whistle; such determination created the infamous phrase 'fergie time'."
"For whatever reason, the United players are not giving Moyes the extra 10% that they gave to Ferguson. Take the recent Cardiff match of example, last season United would have seen off the threat Cardiff, this season they succumbed to the pressure. Of course, this claim is not the most quantifiable, but considering United are due to score their lowest points tally in the league it is something that holds up."
Players are just not good enough
"Nonetheless, the biggest problem United are facing right now is that they are not good enough. Ferguson's successes with the squad masked that fact, they had the perfect chemistry and any other manager taking over Fergie would have struggled to emulate him."
Quote taken from Scoop on the City
The fact Sir Alex Ferguson became fixated on trying to sign replacements for Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes towards the end of his regime shows that even the great one knew the sides achievements were owned to him coaxing the absolute maximum out of his side and that eventually, even his best efforts would not have been enough to save an increasingly poor looking side.
The first attempts to replace the duo came in 2007 when Anderson and Nani were brought for £17 million each. At the beginning the were both were quick to make their mark, the highlight of their careers being the FA Cup demolition of Arsenal.
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Indeed Anderson has featured in four Premier League fixtures - two as a starter and was a big part in the sides that struggled to breakdown a poor Crystal Palace side at Old Trafford and the side that beaten by West Brom - in both matches he was taken off after the hour.
The stats below reveal Anderson as someone unable to consistently put in tackles and is weak in positioning - hinted by his woeful interception rate. Furthermore, Anderson was brought in as an attacking midfielder, and although Ferguson dropped him deeper to minimize his lack of composure in front of goal, he initially retained the skill and energy to zoom past players as the clip above suggests. These days he is unable to do that (screenshot two) and his passing for someone who does not receive the ball often is poor (screenshot three).
Since it became clear they were not going to make it, United spurned many chances under Sir Alex Ferguson to get the playmaker(s) they needed. Illustrious names such as: Bale, Kaka, Hazard (rejected in favour of Bebe pictured left), Ljajic, Ozil, Sneijder were turned down when United would have been in the ascendancy to claim their signatures.
We all know about Bale's and Ozil's progression into world class stars (Hazard needs to prove himself for a full season), but the lesser known Ljajic is silently pulling up trees in Serie A.
After his transfer to title aspiring Roma, he has picked up were he left of in Fiorentina. Ljajic is an extremely composed passer of the ball - his success rate of 90.6% from 31 passes per game is something United desperately lack. He is also great at creating chances for his team mates and does not need too many shots to score a goal from.
To add further insult to injury, there was another Serie A star was already on the books of United's during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, he would have been the perfect replacement to Paul Scholes. I am of course referring to his namesake Paul Pogba. The first screenshot shows how combative Pogba is, his tally of 3.3 tackles per game is far more higher than the highest tackling midfielder - Phil Jones.
Furthermore, due to his height he is perfect against defending against long ball teams and offensively for corners - certainly his tally of 2.5 headers per game alludes to this (screenshot two).
Creatively, Pogba's all round spontaneity is on a different level to what United's current midfield can muster. He is a strong dribbler with perfect technique for long range shooting - his surges from deep are reminiscent of the way Paul Scholes would blast a cannon and strike it past the goalkeeper.
Considering Ferguson made concerted efforts to sign replacements for several years and failed, signing a world class winger and playmaker should have been the number one priority for Moyes to help him bed in easier. Instead United had the most uncomfortable of summer transfer where the likes of Thiago and then Fabregas openly rejected Man United.
Fair enough Thiago rejected Man United for the best team in the world: Bayern Munich and Fabregas rejected Man United to remain loyal to Arsenal and also build his own legacy at one of the greatest sides of all time: Barcelona. However, what occurred afterwards was just embarrassing and Moyes cannot take blame for the amateurish negotiations.
It all started when long time Manchester United chief executive David Gill stepped down for Ed Woodward to take over. Woodward's first attempt was to try the most audacious of bids for United legend Cristiano Ronaldo.
Afterwards, United focused their attentions on more realistic targets, targets Moyes actually wanted: Baines and Fellaini. At the very beginning Everton stated that they would not sell the two players, it was either one or the other. Immediately, they should have gone for Fellaini seeing that his contract had a release clause that expired after July and made contingency plans to find another left back. Instead they dithered remaining steadfast on the idea of the two coming in.
At this stage United became desperate, it was deadline day and they had no left back and creative midfielder and consequentially began a scatter-gun approach. Adam Crafton of The Daily Mail explains:
"From the very start, Athletic Bilbao made it clear that they would not negotiate in a deal for creative midfielder and the Basque side stated that they would only do business if United met the players £30.5million buyout clause."
"Bilbao players are rarely sold below their buyout fee as the club only use Basque players and are therefore incredibly difficult to replace. Bayern Munich signed Javi Martinez last year, and the Germans privately admitted that it was one of the most complicated and hard-fought deals they had encountered."
"United - inexplicably - tried to haggle. Woodward and United’s team of negotiators should have done their homework."
"United had even firmed up personal terms with Herrera - who agreed a five-year contract on reduced terms of £3million-a-year - only for Woodward to pull the plug on Monday evening, believing the buyout fee to be too expensive."
"Further humiliation came with the claims in Spain that three impostors - claiming to be United representatives - arrived at the LFP administration offices in Madrid to conclude a deal."
"On deadline day, United’s panicking, scattergun approach emerged as Roma confirmed a £12million bid for Daniele De Rossi had been rejected. Again, a lack of research can be pinpointed - De Rossi endured a difficult time under former Roma boss Zdenek Zeman but has been reinvigorated by the arrival of Rudi Garcia and had no intention of leaving the Italian club."
"Reports in Spain also revealed that United made a last-gasp £34million bid for Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira, while Sportsmail understands that United twice turned down the opportunity to sign Mesut Ozil this summer, despite the new Arsenal signing being just the kind of inventive spark that United are lacking."
* Quotation from The Daily Mail
Now that the quest for a midfielder (albeit not a creative one) was over, United were left to find a left back in less than 24 hours. They wanted Fabio Coentrao who had fallen out of favour with Real Madrid, however Madrid who wanted Siquera had departed for Benfica could no longer afford to let Coentrao leave.
Quite clearly all of United's problems stem from poor mis-management that preceded Moyes. United are now filled with players who are simply not good enough. Even worse, due to the clubs failings which have reflected badly on Moyes, it could easily be argued a few of the United playing staff are not giving their all for Moyes; certainly the rumours surrounding Rio Ferdinand and Robin Van Persie alludes to a lack of trust.
The only fault I can squarely point at Moyes was his decision to release all of Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom staff and employ freshly retired Phil Neville and make Ryan Giggs an important first-team coach. Surely Moyes must have known United's players would have harshly judged him for being inexperienced at the highest level and the fact he has not won a trophy before. Keeping Ferguson's staff would have ensured Moyes had an air of authority, instead he has to deal with issues with Kagawa not being able to make the United line up against Newcastle due to eating too much - an event that surely would not have happened with Sir Alex Ferguson.
If United fans are looking for someone to blame, look beyond Moyes, look at the board who have turned a professional unit into an amateurish one.
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored