Short of goals, leaders, fight, passion and spark, United's players are shot of confidence and belief and they do not look capable of lifting themselves in time for Chelsea on Monday.
Louis van Gaal tried to do just that this week with a passionate and calculated news conference.
He spoke of unity and messages of support from senior figures at the club and has met players and management in an effort to revive flagging fortunes but his job remains under intense pressure.
As ever, the Reds fans did their bit to try and raise spirits too- travelling from Manchester in numbers but left dejected after the team had again been outclassed.
In a defiant show of support, United's players were applauded off the field but the team does not deserve them at present.
Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward is the key decision maker, and, although he was not present at Stoke, he was surely watching somewhere as the team are now without a win in seven games for the first time since 1989.
Seven years ago today, United's jet-lagged players, officials and fans returned from Japan for a Boxing Day game at Stoke.
Having been crowned world champions, United were ascendant and won 1-0 with Carlos Tevez scoring en route to another league title.
The gulf between that side and this current team could be not be more apparent: we may be richer but are so far from the 2008 double winning side that we face a fight to finish in the top four this time around.
This time, the defence was in disarray- Daley Blind was out of position for the first goal when Depay's back header fell fatally short and led to Bojan's opening goal.
Two minutes later, Bojan was again involved as the hosts took a 2-0 lead when United didn't close down from a free-kick and Arnautovic scored from 25 yards.
United's passengers in midfield did not help and, despite belated second half pressure, it was too little too late.
It is just nowhere near good enough.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross was commanding, strong and diligent for the hosts and, having started his career at United, he is exactly the sort of player we now need.
The fans were singing "we'll never die" in the closing minutes.
Maybe not, but the team are in urgent need of resuscitation.
Post a Comment