Friday, 10 January 2014

How's your year going?

It is hard to imagine anyone in sport making a worse start to the new calendar year than David Moyes. After six straight wins at the back end of December, Manchester United began 2014 with three consecutive 2-1 losses.

United had not lost this many in succession since the end of the 2000-01 campaign, when the league title was secured.

Other records have been broken in the six months since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football. Unfortunately for Moyes, however, they are not favourable ones.

Another 12 match unbeaten streak, engulfing the whole of October and November and which saw United beat league leaders Arsenal and thump Bayer Leverkusen 0-5, was abruptly ended by consecutive home losses to Everton and Newcastle.

That run was preceded by a struggling West Brom side outplaying United at Old Trafford and securing their first win there since 1978. Newcastle, similarly, had not won at Old Trafford since 1972 until this season. Swansea had visited Old Trafford 10 times and never won, but knocked United out of the FA Cup at their first hurdle, something that only happened once in Ferguson's 26 years in the competition.

But perhaps the most hurtful loss for Moyes - of five home ones already this season - was the 0-1 to former club Everton. Moyes' successor, Roberto Martinez, accomplished what he failed to do in 11 years: win at Old Trafford. In 45 away matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, Everton were winless under Moyes, drawing 18 and losing 27. Martinez managed it at the first attempt.

'The Chosen One' Moyes has shown glimpses of promise while at times cutting a poor fit for one of the biggest jobs in world football. Winning runs have been established and shattered by losses to teams that in the past had been swatted aside. It is an amazing spectacle that is unfolding week after week at United from a neutral's perspective.

For David Moyes, it is a dream that is quickly turning into a nightmare.

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