There’s a reason why Manchester United’s game against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford was broadcast last on Match of the Day, something that would have almost been unthinkable a decade ago.
It’s clear that despite certain results going their way in the past month, the 13-time Premier League champions are in a definite malaise, and this United side and their under-pressure manager Jose Mourinho now find themselves drawing further comparisons to the much-criticised David Moyes season in the 2013/14 season, which immediately proceeded Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
In his first season as a United manager, Mourinho achieved a miserly 6th place, but was granted Champions League qualification through virtue of winning the Europa league, the first year the rule had been put in place. Further improvements were to be found in his sophomore with a solid second. However, now in his third season, the Portuguese and his side find themselves falling further and further behind the rampaging leading pack, which a point against a struggling Eagles side did nothing to help.
In 2013/14, which began with Moysey and eventually ended with Giggsy, United recorded their worst ever finish in the Premier League era.
The Scotsman was eventually sacked with three games remaining on 22nd April 2014, following a 2-0 loss at Goodison to his old club Everton the preceding Sunday, completing a league double for the Toffees. The previous December, Everton - under the guidance of Roberto Martinez - registered their first win at Manchester United in 21 years, compounding the misery for Moyes who had failed to do so throughout his 11-year tenure on Merseyside.
Now, the slightly different standings in the two tables - separated by the five years - might have gone some way to disguise Mourinho’s failings. United are currently seventh, seven points from a European spot but an astonishing 14 points adrift off leaders Manchester City - remember, it’s not even December yet.
After 13 games under Moyes, United had a goal difference of plus five and an extra point on Mourinho’s current crop, suffering three losses compared to this season’s four. Currently United have a goal difference of -1.
At this point of the season, Moyes’ side were nestled in eighth, behind Newcastle United and Southampton.
Saints are United’s next opponents and should the beleaguered Mark Hughes pull off a shock result (a loss at Craven Cottage this weekend dropped the south-coast side into the relegation zone) then the two United managerial records are sure to be put up against each other further.
If United do lose at St.Mary’s, either Leicester or Watford take maximum points at the King Power Stadium and Bournemouth beat Manchester City at the Etihad - as improbable as that may seem - then the Red Devils would drop to the lowly ninth position seen after 14 games in winter 2013.
United finished the 2013/14 season on 64 points; 19 wins, seven draws, and the most losses (12) in their PL history, as well as humiliatingly witnessing two of their fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, go toe to toe for the title, eventually won by the latter.
This season, in theory, for United to win the Premier League they would have need for City to produce results that equate to five losses - or 15 dropped points, whilst winning all of their own.
Unbeaten so far this campaign, last season City lost just two.