Coming as a mild surprise to only those dyed the deepest shade of red, Manchester United's 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yesterday afternoon laid utterly bare the issues enveloping the club at the present moment: devoid of confidence, lacking both conviction and any kind of cutting edge, and if not for the invention of young Belgian Adnan Januzaj, a squad that looks bereft of both leadership and skill at all levels. Serenaded by Chelsea fans begging him to stay on the job for as long as possible, United manager David Moyes could only offer up his pat stable of excuses on the post mortem of his team's latest defeat, the seventh of the current campaign: playing well at times, United were victims of "bad luck" and "did not deserve to be 2-0 down at half time."
Noting that his team "showed a lot of good things today," Moyes will be busy trying to figure out just quite how things could have gotten so far off track that his opposite number, Jose Mourinho, was able to spend the vast middle of what used to be a competitive match sitting comfortably on the sideline enjoying some banter with the fans before shutting down his team's attacking intent with more than a half hour still to play -- seemingly trying consciously not to embarrass his opposite number.
How did it come to this, that the reigning Champions of England are viewed as victims who need to be pitied...? The answer may be partly in the player ratings below, but it has become increasingly clear that this is a club with a major problem in its midst: the current manager and how to get him "up to speed" before the spit truly hits the fan:
De Gea: Stranded by Carrick for Chelsea's opener and little he could have done for Samuel Eto'o's third. Will be slightly disappointed with himself to have given up a second before the break. 6.5
Rafael: Decent interplay on the wing with Antonio Valencia but gone completely missing for Chelsea's second goal of the afternoon. 5.0
Vidic: Still commanding in the air, but not the same player he once was. 5.0