Manchester United succumbed to their eighth league defeat on the season against Stoke City on Saturday afternoon, which left their title challenge in complete disarray.
After falling behind to a deflected Charlie Adam free kick in the 38th minute, United managed to equalize through a delightful Robin Van Persie finish just two minutes into the second half. However, only five minutes later, Adam restored Stoke City’s lead with a thunderous strike that left David De Gea with no chance.
United still had 38 minutes to find a second equalizer, and a possible winner, though. But they were unable to muster the expected onslaught that could have propelled them to victory and kept them in the hunt for a Champions League spot. Instead, they simply limped to a defeat that leaves their pursuit to finish ahead of Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton in tatters.
David Moyes was quick to point out that United were “unlucky” to lose at the Britannia Stadium, and he he believed that injuries to the Red Devils’ two center defenders, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, which forced them to be substituted, unsettled his team’s impressive opening to the game.
“I don’t know what we have to do to win,” Moyes told the BBC. “I thought we were extremely unlucky. We played well but for their first goal it was an incredible deflection and the second was a worldy.”
“We made numerous chances and opportunities to score, but we couldn’t take them,” Moyes concluded.”Yes, Wayne went close but we also got to the byeline and cut things back three or four times without getting on the end of it, or picking anyone out in the box. We should have been out of sight with the amount of opportunities we had today and we only have ourselves to blame.”
Moyes was able to start Robin Van Persie, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney together for the first time since the purchase of the Spaniard, however the exciting attacking trio were unable to inspire United to victory.
But is United’s recent poor form down to bad luck? Of course not. Moyes is still trying to figure out which members of the squad he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson he wants to keep, and, yes, he has been very unlucky with injuries to key players throughout the campaign, but he’ll also admit that he is still coming to terms with managing the biggest club in English football.
United’s loyal faithful aren’t used to seeing the current Premier League champions so far down the table. But most fans understood that a transitional season after Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure was always likely to happen, and opposition teams are currently taking advantage of this period of uncertainty.
The signing of Mata indicates that Moyes is trying to build his own team, and if he can continue to add to his squad in the summer with equally exciting players while learning from his first campaign in the job, United fans will forgive him one mediocre season.