Michael Carrick has admitted the Premier League table does not make comfortable reading for Manchester United. Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton at Old Trafford leaves United anchored in mid-table, with the same number of points as newly-promoted Hull.
The meagre haul of 11 from eight games represents the club’s worst start to a league campaign for 24 years, when the infamous “Ta-ra Fergie” banner was unveiled and United finished in their lowest position since the relegation season and would surely have seen Sir Alex Ferguson sacked had he not won the FA Cup.
It is unthinkable David Moyes will be ousted. Neither is it particularly plausible United will end the season in the bottom half of the Premier League.
For now though, it does not look good. “It is not easy reading now,” said Carrick.
“Looking at the table as it is now is not something we are used to. It is frustrating because things are not going the way we want. But as players we have to stand up, take responsibility and get better. We just have to keep believing. “We are still confident. Everything is in place but for some reason, at the moment, we are not quite clicking and not quite firing.”
It is true United created enough chances to have sealed victory long before Southampton’s late leveller. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie both hit the bar, youngster Adnan Januzaj had a fierce shot beaten away by Artur Boruc, who also denied Nani with a near-post save. And had Morgan Sneiderlin not slid in to rob Danny Welbeck, the youngster would surely have set Rooney up for a tap-in.
At the start of a week that will be swamped with Ferguson’s observations of life as his eagerly-awaited autobiography is released, it looks increasingly like the single trophy Moyes’ predecessor feels is required this season will have to come in a competition other than the one United have won 13 times in the past 21 seasons.
Everywhere at the moment there are questions for Moyes to answer. The 27.5million pounds invested in Marouane Fellaini does not, at present, look good value for money.
Moyes’ decision to replace Rooney with Chris Smalling just before Southampton scored has been criticised for being too defensive. Indeed, the major positive to come out of Saturday for United was confirmation Januzaj had signed a five-year contract extension.