As David Moyes wandered down the Old Trafford tunnel following his side’s defeat to Newcastle on Saturday, he may have been re-evaluating his expectations.
United’s 1-0 defeat was their fifth of the season, leaving the Red Devils a seemingly unassailable 12 points behind leaders Arsenal, who stumbled slightly with a 1-1 draw with Everton on Sunday.
Given the Red Devils’ performances this season, the expectation surrounding the Theatre of Dreams is now considerably lower.
Fans have all but kissed goodbye retaining the Premier League title and even securing a Champions League spot is looking questionable.
It is certainly an unfamiliar sight to see Manchester United languishing in ninth position leading into Christmas; however the blame cannot solely be put on David Moyes.
While the Scotsman is struggling, those in the higher ranks of the organisation – including Sir Alex Ferguson – must also be held accountable. Manchester United’s downfall has been a long time coming.
Moyes’ job, like all mangers, is team selection, tactical implementation and motivation of the players.
So far Moyes has failed. The ex-Everton manager has continued to select players who have been unable to do the job.
The Scotsman has repeatedly persisted with his only signing, Marouanne Fellaini, who has looked unsuitable in the United midfield and Moyes has continued to select the out-of-form Ashley Young.
Moyes has also seen it as acceptable to implement the defensive tactics that saw him become so successful at Everton into his Manchester United side.
His tactics have encouraged his team to grind out 1-0 victories by closing games out at the end. This has resulted in United conceding late equalisers against weaker teams and relying on the concept of defence when they should be attacking.
Moyes, however must be commended for the recent rise in Wayne Rooney’s form.
The 28-year-old has been sharp for United, netting eight goals this season and looks to have benefited from Moyes’ system that recogniss the ex-Everton star as the main man.
Moyes looks to have brought the best out of Rooney, something Sir Alex often struggled to do.
Sir Alex himself is not without blame for the current form of his beloved team.
In his retirement, the elder Scotsman made it clear he believed he had left the team in strong shape for future success.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
United have only signed one marquee player in the last eight years – Robin Van Persie.
As players have got older, the squad has failed to be replenished. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are past their best and have not been replaced.
The current squad is also full of players who have been given their chance and have been unable to take it.
Anderson, Johnny Evans, Nani, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones have all proven they are short of the star quality Manchester United fans have come to expect over the years.
Apart from Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and possibly Michael Carrick, it’s hard to see where the firepower is coming from.
Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez have all showed they are capable, but it does not come on a consistent basis.
In contrast, United’s rivals have brought in a number of players who have proven they can do the job week in, week out.
Chelsea have brought in Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata, while Manchester City have recruited Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, David Silva and a host of others.
Mesut Ozil has already proven at Arsenal he is a game-changer. United lack this kind of firepower.
The Glazer family must surely realise they need to dig deep into their pockets and spend big over the coming months.
Manchester United has become a symbol of success across the globe and without the recruitment of some new talent, the Manchester United brand is risking considerable damage.
Moyes, without doubt, must be given time to steer the ship in the direction he believes his right.
However with the foundations currently in place and the quality and depth of the current squad, United fans cannot be surprised if they see their side fail to meet the expectations they have become so used to over the past two decades.