Manchester United's loss against Newcastle at the weekend leaves the current Premier League champions (although you wouldn't think it) 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Everton's smash and grab performance at Old Trafford four days earlier also means United have now lost consecutive games at home for the first time since 2002.
Below we'll look at five reasons why Manchester United are in their current predicament, and if they don't address these problems, why things will only get worse for the Red Devils.
Flimsiness in the middle of the park
It's been said time and time again but since Roy Keane's retirement Manchester United have lacked that real driving force in midfield. The lack of defensive midfield options has been highlighted by the Achilles injury that has kept Michael Carrick out of action. Moyes has tried various combinations at the heart of United's midfield to try and compensate but none have been successful, losses against Everton and Newcastle with Giggs & Fellaini and Jones & Cleverley respectively are evidence to this. Carrick's ability to keep hold of the ball is something that Moyes desperately needs but unfortunately whilst the England international recovers he'll have to make do with make-shift defensive mids, which could see the Red Devils slide even further down the Premier League table.
Injury to star striker Robin van Persie
Van Persie was without a doubt the difference for Manchester United last season, with 26 goals in the Premier League to help United finish a massive 11 points clear at the top of the table. Recent absences through toe and groin injuries meant United failed to win any of their games without him, being held against Cardiff City and Tottenham and also being beaten by Everton. He returned against Newcastle but it was clear to see the Dutchman was far from 100%. Moyes even admitted he should have replaced the striker after 60 minutes but with Rooney suspended the former Arsenal man stayed on the pitch.
Lack of signings during the summer transfer window
The only major signing at United during the summer was the clubs acquisition of Marouane Fellaini, from Moyes' former club Everton for £27.5 million. United missed out on numerous targets including Leighton Baines, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera whilst all of their rivals strengthened their squads. Arsenal were re-energised by the £42.4 million signing of Mesut Ozil from Madrid whilst Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all invested over £50 million in new players. So it's no coincidence that all the teams mentioned above now sit higher than United in the Premier League table.
Adapting to Moyes' methods
Rio Ferdinand openly questioned David Moyes decisions to name his starting XI only hours before kick-off, saying it created a 'nervous energy' around players. Ferguson would never have tolerated the dissent Ferdinand appears to have shown Moyes. One of the biggest mistakes pundits, ex-players and fans think Moyes has made is his decision to replace the entire back-room staff at United. Former Manchester United player Gary Neville also think United are player a deeper defensive line and are now more vulnerable to set piece attacks, highlighted by late goals conceded against Southampton and Cardiff.
Loss of Manchester United's famous 'fear factor'
Steve Clarke, manager of West Brom said his side felt 'no fear' ahead of their famous 2-1 win at Old Trafford in September. Teams who managed to take the lead against United at the Theatre of Dreams could then expect to receive and onslaught of attacking football from the serial English champions, but Newcastle managed to see out their 1-0 win with relative ease. "Usually whenever we're chasing a goal at Old Trafford, especially at the Stretford End, we put teams under an enormous amount of pressure," said Jonny Evans. "But with the lack of confidence and creativity, we didn't produce that. It is hard to put your finger on it."
To summarise, there is no single reason why United are struggling this season, although fans that thought the departure of one of the greatest managers to grace the game would cause no disruption to United's trophy winning ways were badly mistaken. Moyes obviously needs time to get his way of thinking, his methods across to the players at Old Trafford and he'll certainly be given that time but with the fans getting restless and whispers of unease in the dressing room at United, Moye's needs to do everything in his power to smooth this bumpy ride Manchester United have embarked upon.