Another day, another problem to address for Manchester United and their imperilled manager David Moyes.
This time it was stories — quickly denied — of a falling-out with one of his coaches, Ryan Giggs. The United icon — so the rumour went — vented his spleen at Moyes in the Old Trafford dressing room in the wake of Sunday’s limp defeat by Liverpool.
‘Ryan is absolutely fuming over suggestions of a falling-out with the manager,’ said a United spokesman on Monday.
As it turned out, Giggs was jogging on the pitch with other unused players when Moyes and his team began their dissection of Sunday’s disaster. Even the Welshman can’t argue down the length of a players’ tunnel and through a brick wall.
As one fire goes out, however, other burning problems do not go away for Moyes. Fresh from Sunday’s 3-0 surrender to Liverpool, Moyes must raise his team for Wednesday’s Champions League visit of Olympiacos.
Then, on Saturday, is a visit to West Ham in the Barclays Premier League followed by the arrival of Manchester City next Tuesday. If it sounds daunting for Moyes, that’s because it is.
In the directors’ box on Sunday, United officials looked on aghast as the team succumbed meekly, while in the corporate lounges, guests from each of the club’s top sponsors — invited especially for the day — must have wondered what the champions have been spending their money on.
The official line from United is that Moyes remains in no immediate danger. The plan, we are told, remains a long-term one.
The United manager, though, is in trouble, do not think otherwise, and a succession plan may well be put in place within 10 days if things continue to go badly.
On social networking sites and fan forums on Monday, the groundswell of opinion against Moyes continued to grow. Even the more rational are beginning to tire of United’s insipid football and a manager who rarely seems to say or do anything to inspire confidence in his ability to reverse a downward trend.
However, the remarkable and prolonged support afforded United from the Stretford End during the last 10 minutes of Sunday’s defeat has worked in Moyes’s favour.
It was noted by the Old Trafford directors as a tick in a column of positives that was looking as empty as some of United’s performances.
What is abundantly clear is that nobody at United — apart from the odd disaffected player — wants to see Moyes sacked. What is also apparent, however, is that United will have to get rid of him if things don’t improve quickly.
Moyes’s United have a shambolic look about them and they are getting worse. Other Premier League coaches talk privately of unimaginative tactics and square pegs in round holes.