Fulham Draw May Not Be as Bad as It Gets for David Moyes and Manchester United

Paul AnsorgeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014


It's still hard to process exactly what we witnessed at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester United have had terrible results and inept performances at home before. All teams do. However, there was something different about Man United's draw with Fulham

More than any of David Moyes’ other struggles this season, this one felt as though it was his fault. As Bleacher Report's Rob Blanchette suggests, the key issue yesterday was not one of individual performance but rather one of tactics.

Last week, I implored David Moyes to blame neither misfortune nor his players should the Fulham result go against United. Naturally, he blamed both.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Moyes said:

I don't know if we could have done an awful lot more. Maybe we could have defended a couple of times a bit better, taken a few more of the chances we made, but we completely dominated and we should have won the game.

 He went on to describe the conceding of a late goal as indicative of a "mental softness."

Not the most mentally soft bunch, perhaps...
Not the most mentally soft bunch, perhaps...Jon Super/Associated Press

Whilst it may be true that United’s recent mental strength has not been on par with the relentless determination of the Roy Keane era, Moyes is still talking about a squad of players who came back from losing the league title in the last kick of the 2011/12 season to win the 2012/13 league by 11 points.

He also said that conceding the last minute equaliser was "as bad as it gets."

The bad news for Moyes and United fans is that this is almost certainly not as bad as it gets.

Currently, he still has the backing of the home crowd.

Even as United’s tactical approach resembled a vampire-hunter convention (lots of crosses...get it?), sections of the crowd sang their support for him. Eventually this patience will run out, assuming he does not find a way to improve United’s fortunes.

Still behind Moyes...for now.
Still behind Moyes...for now.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The level of frustration is growing because the mitigating excuses offered for United’s failings are losing relevance.

It is increasingly evident that Moyes’ determination to use a system which prioritises wing play (a polite euphemism for getting United to hoof it out wide and whack it into the box) is not going to be abandoned.

Tougher challenges than the worst team in the Premier League await. On Wednesday, United travel to the Emirates. Arsenal, so chastened by their destruction at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool on Saturday, will be eager for some measure of redemption.

United should also be anxious to prove that they are still a force, but Moyes’ version of Manchester United has responded to poor performances and adversity with more poor performances and adversity all season.

Moyes may believe his team to have shown mental weakness, but watching the game it was hard not to feel that he showed a lack of mental acuity. He failed to adapt to circumstance, insisting on his team repeating a pattern of play which clearly was not working.

Pep would probably be reasonably happy to draw United.
Pep would probably be reasonably happy to draw United.Martin Meissner/Associated Press/Associated Press

The season is effectively over in February. Champions League qualification is slipping away one dropped point at a time. United are still in Europe’s top competition for now, but the idea of having to try and beat Barcelona or Bayern Munich sounds pretty far-fetched given the circumstances.

Moyes also risks losing the support of those players whose support he retains. His criticisms of their mentality are part of a dangerous game. The players should be taking some of the responsibility for how abject United’s season has been, but so should Moyes.

If he "loses the dressing room," it will not be easy for Moyes to survive the season.

"As bad as it gets" may be yet to come.