Football: End of an era at Manchester United?

The most ‘shocking’ football of the news of the weekend was the double dose of disaster faced by every fan in Manchester, whether they have red or blue football blood running through their veins.

The most newsworthy result brought with it a couple of dubious statistics for United, as their 2-1 home defeat to West Brom - provoking boos at the final whistle - heralded the hitherto mighty yet now vulnerable looking team’s worst start to a league campaign in 24 years. There are, no doubt, numerous more unflattering facts and figures that could be attributed to the club ostensibly in crisis, but a simple one that highlights the plight of both players and new manager, David Moyes in their quest to maintain the form that has brought a cabinet full of trinkets over the years is the stark reality that is the won 2, drawn 1, lost 3 record of the opening six matches. In fact they are only the second English top-division champions (after Blackburn) to start the next season with three defeats in the first six matches since Leeds in 1974-5.

The online bookmakers must be having a chuckle at United’s problems after undoubtedly taking a certain level of wagers before the season began, and might find it difficult to give them away if the poor results continue. Nevertheless, comebacks are far from unusual in football, and the current situation will probably have them devising all sorts of amusing specials.

Given that it wasn’t looking good recently when we reported their rather modest position in the league table among ‘lesser’ teams, days later United now stand in 12th place, alongside Stoke, Norwich and others, behind Cardiff, three points behind Hull and even further adrift of Southampton. Maybe it’s best not to mention the whopping 8 points daylight between Moyes and Arsenal’s rejuvenated long-term manager Arsene Wenger at the top of the pile.
With their upcoming trip on Wednesday to Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) for a Champions League Group A clash about as appetising as a wet weekend in a 1950s era holiday camp, there could indeed be a crisis at Old Trafford…


Shakhtar Donetsk are 6/4 for the aforementioned tie, with United around 2/1. Meanwhile, Arsenal look decent value at 11/10 for their Champions League home fixture against Napoli (14/5), and although history has had its moments for Celtic at this level, the online betting providers don’t hold out much hope for them against Barcelona if their price of 8/1 is anything to go by. The Spanish giants are 2/5 but if home advantage and loyal support can be factors there could be some logic opting for the draw at 4/1...

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