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Manchester United manager David Moyes maintained a stony silence after Javier Hernandez cancelled out Wayne Routledge’s strike during the FA Cup third round fixture against Swansea City at Old Trafford.
The goal notwithstanding, United were playing lacklusture football and in the end, Moyes’ worst fears came true as United crashed out of the FA Cup with another home defeat. Moyes’s United era will not eventually be measured by his success in the FA Cup, but last night’s defeat is one of a series of setbacks. The champions are currently seventh in the Premier League table. It is easy to point the finger at Moyes, but the club management and the players are equally responsible for the current state of affairs.
The management erred in allowing Moyes to make a radical overhaul of the backroom staff when he took over from Sir Alex Ferguson. More than anyone else, Rene Meulensteen’s absence is hugely felt. Robin van Persie repeatedly spoke about the influence of the first-team coach after he arrived in Manchester. The new set of coaching staff in Phil Neville, Steve Round and Chris Woods seem to be taking a while to get into the groove.
Ed Woodward as David Gill’s replacement as the club chief executive, too, has proved to be a big let-down. The Woodward-Moyes combine stumbled through the transfer market during the closed season and managed to land just the out of form Marouane Fellaini.
The players are to blame too. Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs are maybe in their last season at United. Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Hernandez have all had poor seasons. Also, United have been beset by injuries. The squad was further weakened as Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Nani, Rafael and Michael Carrick, all hobbled out with injuries.
The need for new personnel is there, but Moyes claimed good players are rarely available during the January transfer window. If the injury situation doesn’t improve, the pressure on Moyes will only go up.
(Shamik is a principal correspondent based in Kolkata)