David Moyes has questioned the mentality of his Manchester United players, despite the vast majority of them having won the title last season.
Any slim chances the Reds had of retaining their crown have now surely vanished since the turn of the year, having lost three of their six Premier League matches of 2014. Their latest disappointment came on Sunday, when bottom-placed Fulham scored a stoppage time equaliser to take a point off the champions at Old Trafford.
This was an extraordinary game in Manchester, one in which the home side completely dominated yet found themselves behind at the interval. Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick turned the game on its head with time running out, but Darren Bent’s leveller cancelled out the hard work. After the full-time whistle blew on another frustrating afternoon, Moyes surprisingly questioned the mentality of his players.
When asked if he had expected this season to be as problematic as it has undoubtedly been for the champions, the former Everton boss said: “Probably not. It’s been a bit like that this season, but today was as bad as it gets. You could say that it was maybe mental softness that we didn’t see the job out. I would agree with that.”
Moyes’ comments on his players are perhaps a little strange, considering the vast majority of the players who featured against Fulham – and have for most of the season – won the title last term. Indeed, the only additions to the squad have been Adnan Januzaj who has progressed through the youth ranks and has been one of the better performances, former Chelsea ace Juan Mata who has won the World Cup amongst other honours, and Marouane Fellaini, who has not been seen since December due to injury.
The draw with Fulham now leaves the Reds some nine points behind Liverpool who, with a far superior goal difference, could justifiably consider the gap to be 10. Tottenham Hotspur and Everton are also ahead of Moyes’ side, making a top-four finish look increasingly unlikely for a club accustomed to playing UEFA Champions League football.
Of course, they could still qualify for the competition by winning it this season, but given how only two sides in the top-ten of the Premier League have failed to beat United this season, it is perhaps a tall order to expect them to get the better of the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea or Manchester City. And having been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions, this has been the most difficult season at Old Trafford since the early days of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.