Twelve matches into the first season at his new club, David Moyes has seemingly overcome much of the initial criticism aimed at him for Manchester United’s failures to secure results. As the season progresses, the questions remain of just how high the ceiling is for the current squad and whether or not they can be considered true title contenders.

Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to leave a legacy that would be impossible to match and, in fairness to the club’s fans, the majority have been willing to judge the former Everton manager by his own merits.

The chief concerns after Moyes’ announcement were his ability to cope with the added pressures of managing a club of United’s stature, how capable he would be of attracting top players and whether or not he would be able to motivate his players to the same level as his predecessor.

David Moyes

david-moyesMoyes appears to have coped well enough with the pressures of the job; however, the other two issues remain points of contention when assessing the manager. The summer transfer window was undoubtedly a disappointing one for fans hoping for a Cristiano Ronaldo return to Old Trafford, regardless of how unlikely it was in the wake of Sir Alex’s retirement. Fans were excited by the prospect of a move for Cesc Fàbregas but grew frustrated by Moyes’ repeated attempts to capture him when the Barcelona player openly rejected the notion of a transfer. The eventual purchase of Marouane Fellaini, one of Moyes’ former players at Everton, felt like a last resort for fans who were hoping for a world class midfielder to replace Paul Scholes.

Motivation has been an issue, one highlighted by the league champions being comfortably outplayed by Liverpool and crushed by their local rivals, Manchester City. That a team who so comfortably won the Premier League title last season, albeit in a year where the teams around them underperformed, appeared so ineffective was shocking. In fairness to Moyes, most of the fans’ anger following the Manchester Derby was directed at the failure of the players to perform, not at the manager himself. Wayne Rooney has constantly been at the heart of the United attack and performed while other players have failed to, and it’s to Moyes’ credit that the new manager was able to keep the England striker at the club.

Manchester United

United’s draw against Cardiff this past Sunday highlighted the current issues with the team. They struggle to control the midfield in the way that had been their trademark under Ferguson and lack truly standout wingers, another United signature. The sudden arrival of Adnan Januzaj as a regular in the squad has been a pleasant surprise, though Wilfried Zaha seemingly has no chance of playing Premiership football, for whatever reason. Regardless, fans will surely be looking to the centre and wings of the pitch as the areas Moyes needs to strengthen in January if United are to pose a serious threat to the other top teams.

The keyword for the teams at the top of the league this season has been “consistency”; United’s has certainly improved recently and they’re in the best form in the Premiership. Gradually moving up the table since their shocking start to the season, it looks increasingly likely that they will, at the very least, make it into a Champions League spot, the absolute minimum the fans demanded from Moyes when he was appointed. Whether or not they can win the league remains to be seen, though United are, as ever, contenders. Given the current problems with the team, if David Moyes was able to lift the Premiership trophy, it would leave little room for doubt of his managerial ability.

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