Man United: We Must Be Bold & Consistent To Redress The Balance At Old Trafford
Last week's second half performance against Swansea City offered Manchester United fans a rare sniff of positivity in a season of ludicrously underwhelming mediocrity, the team having lurched like an old, battered car, from one splutteringly incoherent performance to the next, with occasional glimmers of hope that have been snuffed out quicker than a candle in a hurricane.
Yet, with a visit to Stamford Bridge in the offing little over a week later, any optimism has been short-lived. This is understandable. It's not that the champions' supporters have, in the course of a few short months, been beset with the kind of negativity usually associated with clubs more accustomed to scrapping against relegation than fighting for first place, rather we now feel the need to take each crumb of comfort with a healthy pinch of scepticism, having been repeatedly disappointed over the course of the season so far.
It is fair to say that David Moyes' tenure as Manchester United manager has, hitherto, been an almost entirely forgettable experience, Old Trafford having witnessed all the wrong records being broken with discomfiting regularity and ease, leaving Moyes looking like Captain Birdseye to Ferguson's Captain Ahab.
Indeed, there has been such a lot of negativity swirling around the beleaguered Scot's vicinity that the occasional blinding performance has seemed little more than an aberration, recalled by fans with the disbelieving air of a drunkard dismissing his misdemeanours from the previous night with a withering wave of his hand.
Still, with last week's second half performance still relatively fresh in our memories, it is high time we were able to kiss goodbye to the meek Moyes we have grown to know and doubt, all "hopefully" this and "with a bit of luck" that. It is time for him to pounce on the positives and finally fulfil the promise his predecessor clearly saw in him when he shoehorned him into the post last summer.
An away trip against Chelsea may, at first glance, seem like the worst possible fixture for Moyes to begin to build up a head of steam, given Chelsea's remarkable record on their own turf, but it might just offer him the perfect opportunity to show the world that he is made of sterner stuff than has seemed the case since grasping the baton from Ferguson's vice-like grip last year.
After all, the manager he will be pitting his wits against tomorrow was also the man widely tipped to replace Sir Alex, and the man a great many remain convinced would have been best suited to the post.
Mourinho's Chelsea may be sitting pretty in the upper reaches of the Premier League, but their form has hardly been vintage. If David Moyes can lead his team to victory against the Portugese's side, it could provide just the catalyst needed to kick start his United career and the club's season. The title may be out of reach, but that's no reason to throw up our hands and settle for a scrap for fourth place.
It is high time David Moyes followed one positive performance with another, and he can only do this by shaking off the meekness that has been such a prominent part of his demeanour since the start of his tenure. It is up to him now to engender in his players the kind of team spirit in evidence last week, and inspire in them the self belief necessary to come away from Stamford Bridge victorious. Do that, and it could just be the boost needed to make the second half of United's season reflect the second half against Swansea, and restore some order to Old Trafford once more.
Follow Paul on Twitter, @PaulGunning1