Manchester United v Shaktar Donetsk Champions League Preview - Wednesday 30th September 19.45 GMT
United go to Shaktar Donetsk in the next Chamions League game on Wednesday night
TV: Skt Sports
Manchester United have endured their worst start to a Premier League season in 24 years, so the distraction of a Champions League match may appear to be the perfect tonic, but a long trip to Shakhtar Donetsk is the last thing David Moyes and his team needed right now.
United had a good start to their Champions League campaign by winning their opening match against Leverkusen from the German Bundesliga. Everything looked on course until they came up against Manchester City in the Premier League and since then, the wheels have come off!
A consecutive league defeat, this time at home to lowly West Brom and a performance which was probably one of the worst I have witnessed at Old Trafford for a long, long time, means that Wednesday`s match acquires more importance.
Should United lose that game, the knives will definitely be sharpened and I fear that there will not be any `honeymoon period` for him from the fans. I was at the game on Saturday and there were loud choruses of boos at the end of the match. Ask any sportsman whether he ignores that sort of treatment!
The problem is that United did not learn from the previous season, when Manchester City, then the champions, did not buy any new players of note. Subsequently, the team coasted the next season, with players in the comfort zone, with the result that they lost their crown by a massive distance.
Now United are doing the same. Last season, players like Rio Ferdinand had a purple patch; it was more likely a swan song. Rio is 35 and has been at fault for most of United`s goals concessions this season. His partner, Vidic, is 32 and does not look the same player from a few years ago, after a series of knee operations.
Unfortunately, the replacements are not progressing quickly enough, although Johnny Evans has done nothing wrong this time around. Chris Smalling has been poor, and Phil Jones needs a sustained period of injury free matches. Patrice Evra is over the hill, but his replacement, Alex Buttner, is not good enough. United need at least three top players. They need a centre back, a creative midfielder and a winger.
Wednesday`s match against Shakhtar will be a test for United especially as the Ukranian side have moved up to second in their league this weekend and are in a very positive position.
One of David Moyes problems is that he does not know his best team and constantly changing it around is not helping. He needs to look at teams which Sir Alex Ferguson put out last season and start from there. There are certain players he must unload in January, like Anderson and Buttner, both of whom have been complete flops and costly as well.
If United lose this match, it will certainly start to be described as a crisis by the media. The fans are already losing faith in Moyes and the next couple of games could be decisive.