David Moyes is well and truly, once again, under the cosh. After the brief respite that followed their 2-1 victory away at Sunderland a fortnight ago, the pressure is very much back on after dropping more points at home to Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Manchester United now already sit eight points behind leaders Arsenal after just eight games. It is not good enough, and Moyes will know that.
I am not suggesting for one second that the Scot should be sacked. When any manager is disposed of just eight league games into a season it's ridiculous, and the Red Devils are better than that.
But if things do not pick up soon, when is the point that enough becomes enough, and the powers that be genuinely have to consider their options?
A History lesson
It is fairly well known by now that Sir Alex Ferguson did not have the most successful of starts to his reign at Old Trafford. And everyone knows that Man Utd will give their managers a lot longer to get things right than most other clubs would.
But things have moved on a fair bit since 1986, and David Moyes should not and will not be given years to get things right.
There was always going to be a huge transition period (more on that later), and regaining the title was always going to be unlikely. But the fact of the matter is, if Manchester United approach the business-end of the season in serious danger of not qualifying for next season's Champions League, then David Moyes must be sacked.
When Sir Alex took charge of United, he was taking over a team that had not won the league in nearly twenty years. When David Moyes took charge, he had at his disposal a side that had just won the division by 11 clear points. The situations are incomparable.
Only twice since the 1986-87 season have a title winning side failed to finish in the top four the next year.
Puzzling Decision Making
Right from the start of his reign, Moyes has made some incredibly odd decisions. From the mess of the transfer window (that has been discussed to death) to the strange team selections, Moyes seems lost at times at the helm of such a big club.
His utilization—or lack thereof—of Kagawa has been incredibly strange. However unimpressive he was against West Brom, did he really deserve to be hooked off at half time? Especially considering Moyes is hardly a manager known for his knee-jerk decision making.
It is incredible that Kagawa has played just 45 minutes of Premier League football so far this season. Moyes must either not rate him or just not know what to do with him. He can't be that bad a player, especially considering the most vibrant attacking side in Europe last season would love to have him back.
Then, there is Wilfried Zaha, electric in pre-season, but apparently not worthy of a single minute of competitive football so far. This is coming from a manager who has used 24 different players already so far in the League (even starting Anderson twice!).
Defensively, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were given too many games in a row at the start of the season, even though every football fan up and down the country could tell you that neither should be playing three games in a week anymore.
It is still probably just about United's best partnership, but Moyes managed to run them both into the ground before the end of September.
The whole idea of bringing in David Moyes was that he would be the manager who provided the smoothest possible transition from the previous era.
If "transition" was the keyword that was used over and over again, why was the entire backroom team immediately dispensed with? It sure as hell felt a lot more like upheaval than transition, and it was even reported that Fergie strongly encouraged his fellow Scot to do otherwise.
Now, you essentially have a completely new team running a huge operation without anyone there with the experience of doing so. I'm no expert, but that doesn't sound like a particularly good idea in any walk of life.
It is still early days, and like I said before, Moyes should and will be given the time to prove himself. But even at a club like Manchester United, in modern day football your time is always limited.
If things do not get better, though, he does not deserve anywhere near as long as Ferguson was given to get things right, and if he does end up losing his job, it could be years again before a promising British manager is trusted with the opportunity managing of a top Premier League club.
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