David Moyes has made a series of worrying admissions ahead of Manchester United’s League Cup tie with Liverpool, admitting his first XI isn’t strong enough, the team was lucky to win the title last season and it’s likely Sunday’s body blow at City will not be the last.
Moyes clearly did not get the players he wanted during the summer window, missing out on an array of world-class midfielders. As a result, he says the current team needs swift improvement, per Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail:
I don’t think it’s actually the squad, I think we’ve got numbers. I think maybe where we’ve got work to do is to bring players in to go right into the team, so that’s the slightly different equation.
We needed one or two who might have just gone in. But that will happen.
The accusation aimed at United by rival fans last season was that they won the league by default. Rather than the champions being the outstanding team of the campaign, there was a feeling they were just the best of a poor bunch as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all underwhelmed.
Moyes hinted on Tuesday he subscribed to the same belief, claiming he will have to guide United through a transition period that might not be enjoyable for the fans:
Yes, it does mean I may have to take a few more blows, definitely. Maybe even more than that, maybe all season.
But I knew this was going to be the case because I was taking over from a great manager and it was always going to take time for me to get my own ways and change things round a bit.
I think also a lot of people thought Manchester United last season...it was probably the fault of other teams that were poor.
Moyes on character: "I'm still getting to know all the players. I'll get to know a few more this week and see what they can do." #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 24, 2013
Moyes’ honesty is a gamble. To suggest his current crop of players was fortunate to win a league title, which it spent an entire season grafting toward, risks alienating some of his star names.
United fans will also not want to hear the Scot predicting more dark days like Sunday’s 4-1 hammering at City. Moyes has the same players Sir Alex Ferguson guided to the title last season, so embarrassments like the weekend trip to the Etihad will surely not be tolerated.
However, part of the reason the club replaced Ferguson with Moyes is for that honest, no-nonsense character trait.
United’s first XI currently does not look strong enough. Man for man, it is difficult to argue any United midfielder would get in the City team right now.
Where will Man Utd finish this season?
Moyes knows that, which is why Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera were all pursued during the summer window. Gareth Bale too, it seems, was a £100 million target of the Red Devils, per John Cross of the Daily Mirror.
Right now, United’s attack is extremely reliant upon the individual brilliance of Robin van Persie and, to a lesser extent, Wayne Rooney. By removing the Dutchman from the team, they look a very ordinary outfit.
Success for Moyes would be to reach January with his team still in contention near the top of the table. If he manages that, expect major movements in the transfer window.