The Reuters global sports blog
Two defeats and one scrappy draw amid a hat-trick of pitiful performances in as many heavyweight bouts showed in no uncertain terms just why Manchester United manager David Moyes lamented over a tough Premier League start for the English champions when the fixture list was drawn during the close-season.
Sunday’s comprehensive 4-1 drubbing by cross-town rivals City, which followed a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool and a tame goalless stalemate with Chelsea, exposed all the chinks in the armour of a squad who won their 20th league title last season thanks to the scoring prowess of Robin van Persie and the firm steering hand of Alex Ferguson.
Neither played any part in the derby.
The prolific Dutch striker pulled out with a groin strain while the trophy-laden Ferguson, who welcomed the prospect of no longer suffering by the touchline when he retired last season after 27 years in charge, must have felt at least some of the pain suffered by Moyes in what has become an extended baptism by fire for the former Everton manager.
After all, Ferguson hand-picked the fellow Scotsman for the job.
As my colleague Martyn Herman pointed out, only the long-standing winners’ mentality and the seemingly perennial ability to grind out results in the face of adversity papered over last season’s cracks at United, which have come down on the ill-prepared Moyes like a ton of bricks.