In Depth

Man Utd: Moyes must take the blame as RVP hints at unrest

United were without a clear gameplan against Olympiakos, and Van Persie comments prove it

MANCHESTER UNITED'S abject performance against Olympiakos in the Champions League last night plumbed new depths in an already miserable season, and to make matters worse striker Robin van Persie afterwards hinted at divisions within the camp and provided more evidence of the lack of a clear game plan when he accused some of his team mates of "occupying the spaces I want to play in". United seemed to lack a coherent strategy against the Greek champions, but afterwards manager David Moyes, whose job it is to instruct the team on how to play, declared himself "surprised" and admitted: "I didn't see that level of performance coming." Van Persie's comments suggest that all is not well in the dressing room. "The Dutchman's voicing of disquiet at the dismal campaign echoes Rio Ferdinand's comments earlier in the season, when the defender questioned the manager David Moyes' approach of naming the side close to kick-off," says The Guardian. When asked if he blamed his players Moyes said he took "full responsibility" in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat. And watching from the dug-out it must have been clear to Moyes that his players were unsure of their tactics and sometimes even their formation, especially after a raft of second half substitutions. Certainly they lacked the confidence and zip of a team that knows what it is doing and has faith in its abilities. Roy Keane laid into the side on ITV and there was widespread dismay at the dire showing on Twitter. 

MUFC have had the odd bad day over the years, but I cannot recall such an abject, hopeless, forlorn performance. And against such mediocrity

 

— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 25, 2014

This has to be the worst performance of the year. Disgraceful football from utd. The players just look like they don't care

 

— Greg Rutherford (@GregJRutherford) February 25, 2014

 The result must go down as one of the worst under Moyes and has "dealt another severe blow to the Scot’s hopes of proving he is equipped to fill the void left by Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement", says The Times. Others agree. Bad luck and individual errors have dogged United this season, but this was a collective failure. "Criticism will rightly froth indignantly towards Moyes because his tactics were too cautious," says Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph. "He failed to give his players the right game-plan." Even the level-headed BBC has weighed in. "David Moyes's half-time team-talk needed to focus players' minds and change their tactics but neither was in evidence [after the break]," its writer laments. In the more excitable areas of the internet there was talk of Moyes being sacked: the club's owners are set for "crisis talks" according to website Caughtoffside, which talks about "plans to bring in a short-term managerial team to replace Moyes". It adds that the Scot's future now "hangs in the balance"

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