Man United: Moyes Is A Bottomless Pit Of Disappointment
As I made my way, disconsolately, towards the Old Trafford exit, on Tuesday night, after yet another wretched display by the team I adore, I was confronted with a sight that literally stopped me in my tracks. There, stood above me on the concrete steps, leaning against a seat for support, stood a lady who, by my reckoning, must have been in her early-eighties. She was facing in the opposite direction to me, gazing around at a near-empty Old Trafford, and down at the pitch where the Manchester City players celebrated before their jubilant fans.
I stood and stared at this lady, bowed with the weight of her years, standing in solemn silence, surveying the scene of the reigning champions' latest diabolical display. Her eyes were wet, whether from the cold night-air or, like so many others filing past her, the raw emotion brought about by what she had just witnessed.
Her face was set in stony contemplation, seemingly unaware of the throng of bodies streaming past her, and perfectly encapsulated the deep sense of mournful bewilderment that has now completely engulfed this great stadium. It is an image that will be forever etched on my mind.
Then, with one last flicker of dismay, she turned and made her way, slowly, up the remaining steps and down into the concourses.
Someone of her age has experienced many euphoric highs and tragic lows, over the years, supporting this proud club. Yet there was an unequivocal sense of sadness in her expression.
Manchester City did not just beat Manchester United, here. They schooled them in what it means to play proper football, as a well organised, tactically astute unit that is working together to a proper plan. They did this without breaking sweat; without getting out of second gear; without the remotest need or desire to go for the jugular of the already mortally wounded beast that writhed in the throes of death before them.
If David Moyes had a plan, it, much like his tenure as Manchester United's manager, failed catastrophically. The champions were a shell-shocked, ragged mess after less than a minute, when they found themselves a goal down to a team that was was brimming with confidence in their own superiority.
The following twenty-five minute spell was a harrowing, horrifying experience for the watching home crowd, who were forced to endure, yet again, the humiliation of being utterly out-played by one of their greatest rivals, on their own turf. City's slick passing, lightning-like movement and intricate attacking only served to highlight further just what a lumbering embarrassment United have become.
It took most of the first half to work out who was meant to be playing where and, even now, I remain unsure. Tom Cleverley appeared to have been stationed on the right wing yet, at one point, Wayne Rooney, in desperate need of an outlet, twice turned to seek one on the right, only to be confronted by a sea of empty, green space.
Marouane Fellaini would have looked more at home in a circus performance, his only skill appearing to be the ability to move in slow-motion during real-time. He was, as against Liverpool, a hopeless liability, woefully and absurdly out of his depth, apparently as baffled as the rest of us as to where he should be playing and what exactly his job is.
By the time City scored their inevitable second goal, United fans were reconciled to their fate and apathetic in the face of the away support's taunts. "Moyesie is the chosen one," they jeered. No one came to the Scot's defence.
It is hard to imagine how things could get much worse, yet Moyes consistently finds a way. Following on from his declaration that Liverpool were coming to Old Trafford as favourites, a couple of weeks earlier, he spouted the ludicrous and shameful assertion that Manchester City are now the kind of footballing gurus United, who finished eleven points ahead of them, last season, should aspire to be. The indignity of hearing the manager say that is surely the final nail in Moyes' already tightly-shut managerial coffin.
Manchester United cannot continue to be destroyed from within, in this way. There is a rot that is eating into its very fabric. That rot withdrew to his bench, last night, after City's second goal, and failed to emerge again until the final whistle, when he scurried down the tunnel and into the bowels of the stadium.
The poison is bubbling under the surface, at Old Trafford. It was a palpable presence, last night, and was only kept in check by the supporters' weariness and their uncertainty as to how to voice their dissent after so many years of not having to do so. Mutiny, however, cannot be kept at bay forever.
As for the old lady who made such an impression on me, after the final whistle, I suppose she would sagely remind the younger generation of greater tragedies in this great club's history. Yet even she appears to have seen enough of this particular unmitigated disaster.
Follow Paul on Twitter, @PaulGunning1