Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, United managed to lower their standards even further and yesterday’s shambolic display away at Everton summed up our season: flat, gutless, shocking.
It’s hard to draw any lesson at all from such an atrociously poor performance, but here’s five things we’ve learnt.
1) The sooner Moyes goes, the better
“We came in at 2-0 but we had passed the ball really well. Unfortunately we didn’t have the final through ball”. Even by Moyes’ abysmal PR standards, yesterday’s post-match interview was a disaster.
United didn’t play well at all, rather they delivered a masterclass in pointless football, constantly passing the ball to no avail, while Everton were clinical, sharp and effective – in other words everything that United have failed to be this season.
Moyes deserved better than to be booed by the Everton fans, given his contribution to the club over the last decade, but the contrast between his side and Roberto Martinez’s couldn’t have been starker. Everton clinched their first league double over United since 1970, yet another record Moyes has manage to break, and if the club doesn’t act quickly things could get a lot worse for us.
It looks like it might be a matter of hours and, please, rip that banner down once he’s gone.
2) Our coaches couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery
Ahead of yesterday’s trip to Goodison Park, Phil Neville had spoken of being able to “go there and enjoy the occasion”, doing nothing to dismiss the notion that United have got the wrong brother on their coaching staff.
For a player who’s won as much as he has and who’s been brought up in an environment where nothing bar the utmost commitment and desire to win we’re tolerated, Neville’s words sounded ominous.
It was almost as he revealed in United being out of the title challenge, so they could travel to Merseyside without any particular pressure on their shoulders. Well, sorry Phil, but we’d rather not enjoy the occasion and see the players put a shift in than having to witness such shocking efforts.
Steve Round, meanwhile, was caught on the touchlines holding what appeared to be a word document on how to defend set plays. That alone should be a good enough reason to sack Moyes and the charlatans he’s brought along with him, for losing might be hard to stomach but amateurism is simply not acceptable at this level.
3) The Nani conundrum
For the umpteenth time in his career Nani is at the stage where “the next four games could decide his future”. Leaving aside for a second the fact that he should have done enough in the last seven seasons to ensure his future at the club, surely his long-term prospectives were decided when Moyes thought that offering him a five-year deal was a good idea.
Nani isn’t good enough to make it at United – he hasn’t been anywhere near as consistent as a player of his potential should be, bar for the 2010-11 season – and his decline this season has been emblematic of United’s beleaguered campaign: he was expected to seize the opportunity to impress the new manager, instead he’s just drifted into mediocrity and should be offloaded in the summer.
On the other hand, Moyes’ decision to play Nani yesterday was unexplainable, given Nani had barely been involved at all this season and Goodison Park isn’t the ideal ground where to experiment with players who are short of form and confidence.
4) Where does the club stand in the Moyes vs players story?
United’s dressing room hasn’t been a happy place this season, with rumours of unrest and players growing disillusioned with life under Moyes almost as frequent as defeats to teams in the top six.
Danny Welbeck was the latest to be linked with a move away from the club, joining Robin Van Persie, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Javier Hernandez on the list of players who’d rather have their cars nicked on a daily basis than play under Moyes.
While the players need to take a long, hard look at themselves given the appalling performances they’ve delivered this season, it’s hard to fathom footballers being motivated by a manager who’s only agenda since arriving at the club has been to get rid of as many of them as possible.
United needed to strengthen in the summer and failure to do so has left the squad and Moyes dangerously exposed to failure this season, but this team won the league last year. They might not be good enough to challenge for top spot again, but they’re definitely much better than the current position suggests.
Moyes must bear the brunt for those shortcomings and it’ll be interesting to see whether the club will stick or twist in the summer: the tide of support has long turned into a wave of discomfort and disillusion, the club’s hierarchy are the only ones who haven’t registered the change yet, though this afternoon’s events might be the beginning of the end for him.
Earlier this week, Moyes was apparently told that he needed to clinch a Europa League spot in order to strengthen his position ahead of the summer.
As if considering a sixth-place finish a decent result wasn’t indicative enough of how bad United have been this season, Moyes could now fail to manage even that given that Spurs are six points clear with three games to go – albeit with a game in hand.
Avoiding the Europa League would be a blessing in disguise, but Ed Woodward and the Glazers should look at United’s record vs the top six this season, which reads W1, D3, L8, F7, A22. An ignominy.