It's hard to criticize Sir Alex Ferguson. It's even harder to get away with it.
Fourteen league trophies, three European club championships, and assorted domestic cups empower his reputation, implying—if not striking—fear of populist rejection to cynical theorists positing any fallibility in the legendary coach.
Naturally, observers are more inclined to scramble to defend the affable, old gaffer than to dissect negative angles from his tactics and selection.
As such, his pedigree and esteem wards any nay-saying.
Yet, ensconced away in his ivory tower, shielded against criticism from outside or within, can lead to a parochial view of the field below.
On the football pitch he resides over, his serfs are tired and misapplied. Injuries at the back only provide an easy scapegoat for frustration and failure.
Manchester United is losing because they're not scoring. They're not scoring because they're not going forward with any creativity, guile, panache, or confidence.
Of many factors, one prime one is another public icon generally immune from critique, Wayne Rooney. Eighteen games into the season and Rooney has only been rested once. From down here, it shows.
Also suspect is Ferguson's treatment of United's other seeming first-choice striker, Dimitar Berbatov. There is no other player in the top flight more opinion-dividing, nor is there another player less worthy of the debate.
If the manager shows better use of his forwards, better results should mean better football. However, correctly utilizing his wing positions certainly contributes to United's efficacy going forward as well.
In the end, there's a lot wrong at United, and the depleted back-line is certainly a major factor. Defense was the brilliant foundation for their counter-attacking style the last few seasons, and a steady crutch for their usually stale, horizontal passing attack this year.
But attributing their recent mini-demise solely to injuries and unluck only fosters a lack of responsibility from a manager whose history implies he should be capable to shoulder the burden of accountability.