Are Manchester United in trouble?

Should we be writing off Manchester United as Premiership contenders this season? This is not something anybody would have suggested seriously at this early stage of the season when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm without having their sanity questioned. But he’s not the boss any more. This is a new era. Things are different.

Even so, it might still seem a ridiculous proposition were it not for new manager David Moyes saying that he felt that things might get worse before they got better at a Press conference following United’s 4-1 mauling at the hands of neighbours City last weekend.

United have drifted out to 9/2 for the Premiership with Coral, behind 7/4 favourites City and 3/1 Chelsea and we can expect other serious challenges for their title from Spurs (10/1) and Liverpool (14/1) this time around.

But while that price would have seemed like an insult to Reds’ fans in previous years, now it’s a fair reflection of their prospects as Moyes tries to bring the best out of a squad he largely inherited and a first team which didn’t need to be of vintage quality to secure its 20th League title last May.

With City strong again, Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea and the other sides improving, United won’t have things anything like as easy this season and even finishing in the top four might not be the shoo-in most assume it will be.

Keeping Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford was a feather in Moyes’ cap, but he knows himself that he needs to add more than just Marouane Fellaini to the first team to keep up with the neighbours.

A top quality creative midfielder (somebody very like Cesc Fabregas or Mesut Ozil) is an obvious priority; Shinji Kagawa has his fan club, but has been less than impressive so far this season when given his chance.

Ashley Young is struggling big time at the moment and Moyes will be expecting more from Nani now that he is back in contention. On the plus side, Rafael, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, probably three future United stalwarts at the back, all had good games in midweek on their returns from injuries.

One of the main things that strikes you about Moyes is that he sees things as they are tells it like it is and nobody will appreciate the task in hand more than he will. So his words to the Press weren’t just a ploy to ease the intense pressure; they were, I am sure, a genuine warning to all United fans that not only is another title far from automatic, it is also a real possibility that there might only be disappointment to show at the end of this season of transition.

Written by Jon Freeman