Pep Guardiola and Thiago Alcantara
The honeymoon period isn't over, but David Moyes is already getting a few reality checks about following in Sir Alex Ferguson's footsteps.
Nobody said it was going to be easy, and the new manager has been refreshingly open and realistic about the challenges he faces. But for those of us for whom a big question mark hangs, there are one or two worrying signs.
To be clear. This is no "second-guessing" about David Moyes' appointment with the benefit of hindsight. Although after Pep Guardiola went to Munich, my preferred choice was always Carlo Ancelotti, with a United "insider," like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to follow, Moyes has sufficient credentials for the job.
But he has had three "wake-up calls" this week alone.
Singha All Stars 1 Manchester United 0
No matter how the defeat to Singha All Stars is rationalised or washed over, this was a disappointing and largely toothless performance. Yes, there were some real plus points (the subject for the next article), but there was a worrying complacency and raggedness.
Of course, this was a somewhat diluted squad, with several stars still to join the party and some WITH worrying injury problems back home. But it was Moyes' decision to take a smaller squad than in the past, as quoted by ESPN:
My preference was to come with a smaller squad because I wanted to make sure I got as many players playing minutes, and I didn't end up bringing a lot of players who ended up travelling half way around the world for three weeks and ended up not playing enough games.
So with Wayne Rooney already back home with a hamstring injury and Alexander Buttner picking up a similar problem, his limited squad is looking almost threadbare.
Danny Welbeck, the only striker left in the Bangkok squad, was inept up front. Once again, the most obvious need, however, was for creative flair in midfield. Tom Cleverley was his usual workmanlike self and Anderson looked good in flashes, but neither is "world class."
Bayern Munich 3 Manchester United 0
Remember when Sir Alex Ferguson was interested in Franck Ribery? And who got him?
Where have they gone? Bayern Munich. Who is their manager? Pep Guardiola. Would he have been a great choice for United? You bet! And which players might he have signed....?
According to Sky Sports and many other sources, David Moyes says United are looking to land "the best players around."
Well, they've lost the answer to their midfield problems, having looked favourites to sign him for weeks. But they've also missed loads of the other "best players around" who have already been snapped up by teams who represent a serious threat to any serious ambitions United and Moyes may have in the Champions League.
Edinson Cavani is the latest, but the list is seemingly endless: Isco, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Eden Hazard and several others, including Mario Goetze. And who did he sign for? Bayern Munich.
Some serious questions need to be asked about why United's only signing of the summer is Guillermo Varela.
Yes, Manchester United is a "well-oiled machine" and there is no reason why transfer business cannot be in train even while the manager is on holiday, but the latter only adds to the questions.
While Moyes was on holiday for weeks, presumably recharging his batteries for the biggest challenge of his life, none of the "best players around" were signed, except by clubs who are serious competitors to United.
Why didn't the manager start earlier at Old Trafford? Did Bill Kenwright veto this, given that Moyes' contract ran out on June 30? Or was it the ex-Everton man's own choice, presumably having been given assurances that things would be going on "behind the scenes."
"Moyes promises work is being done behind the scenes and chief executive Ed Woodward insists money is available for any target he wants"
The loss of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill
So it may be that the biggest defeat David Moyes has suffered this week is the choice of two of United's top targets (Thiago and Lewandowski) to go to a renowned and proven Champions League manager in Pep Guardiola.
Sir Alex and Gill are still on the United Board, and their influence in world football circles will subsist for some considerable time.
But Sir Alex himself has been on holiday (even missing fellow Scot Andy Murray's famous Wimbledon win) at a time that may have been critical to the chances of landing Thiago at least.
If Moyes himself was surprised to be offered the United job by Sir Alex, imagine what Wilfried Zaha felt like when he read in the papers about the retirement of the manager who signed and presumably "sweet-talked" him on his United future.
"The king is dead, long live the king" as the French said after the death of Charles VI.
Sir Alex has gone (but he is still there) and Moyes is the new "king" of Old Trafford (apologies to Eric Cantona).
But Sir Alex had global "pulling power." Moyes may not. And what experience has Ed Woodward got of signing "the best players around"? Currently none.
So either we have been misled by the media (what, really?) and there was never any intention to sign these "marquee names," or Moyes has been let down badly back home.
In which case, his frustrations with Wayne Rooney may be as nothing to the helplessness he may now feel on the other side of the world, with a "bits and pieces" squad to be bolstered by Robin van Persie and David de Gea this week.
Or was the sub-plot always to sign Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini from Everton? Better the devil you know...?
As far as this author is concerned, those two frankly will not do to fill the gap left by Thiago's "non-signing." Christian Eriksen and/or Kevin Strootman would go a long way to fill that void.
Moyes will surely give young and emerging United talent its head, but the fans have a right to expect that "world class" players will land at Old Trafford soon.
While Moyes and Woodward say he has the money to make big signings, we have been reading more stories about the players United are missing out on at present.
Perish the thought, but if United lose in Sydney in a week's time, further players pick up injuries and nobody gets "photo-called" holding up a United jersey, the natives will very definitely be restless.