Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City: How long is it until January? What? Really?

Alex Livesey

Manchester United put in another abject performance in losing at home to Swansea City for the first time in the club's history, crashing out of the FA Cup in the process.

Another day, another defeat, another abject performance, another trophy missed out on, another ruined FA Cup run for yet another year, another game where Kagawa came on and did nothing, another stupid mistake, and another new record set.

Manchester United one, Swansea City, two.

I used to play a game with my dad driving back from the football, listening to the results getting read out on the radio in the car, guessing by the tone of the announcer's voice what the score was going to be. It was a surprisingly easy game. Back then, there would've been a highly raised tone on "Manchester United", so it might be that they scored a lot of goals - ah no, one. That can only mean - yes, a  very highly raised tone of pitch on the "Swansea City" to follow, so an away win. Two.

This season, I don't think he'd have raised his pitch by that much at all.

I don't think anyone was expecting to lose here. Swansea are a decent side, but out of form, and United have been good in the cups this season. But the sense of inevitability began to grow before a ball had even been kicked. It was a highly questionable team selection, players rotated for a competition that would do Moyes and the club wonders to win, which we haven't gotten hold of for far too long. And why? In order to rest them for a game against 20th-placed Sunderland, in another cup? Which we have a second leg for even if we botch the first?

It was never a reasonable prospect to expect Anders Lindegaard, Alexander Buttner, Rio Ferdinand and Chris "not a right-back" Smalling at right-back to help comprise a defence which was going to keep a clean sheet. They did better than can be expected - Buttner was one of the better players, and Lindegaard didn't make any mistakes. Evans was as fine as he always is. The rest, it's almost too painful to dwell on. Ferdinand ought to have played his last game for the club, and watching Smalling being asked to make attacking runs down the right flank is pretty much as close as you'll get to the old "one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest" idea.

So, a rare "get tae" for David Moyes for the following: fielding a weakened team, and sticking rigidly to a system that wasn't working. I don't, like many others, think that 4-4-2 is a dead system - that's an absurd notion - but it's also true that the formation doesn't imply how attacking you are. Failing to recognise that Javier Hernandez was having a dreadful performance and that Danny Welbeck would have a far better chance in his position was poor, as was keeping Shinji Kagawa on the pitch.

Those mistakes seem more forgivable when you look at the bench, and here rests the eternal sympathy for Moyes - that he is still railing against problems not of his own making. We've gone long past having a midfield problem into something worse, and the squad is horribly imbalanced. To the point where it will require bravery, imagination, courage, conviction, determination, and a hundred million or so to fix. Every day is more evidence that we don't possess any of those things.

If David Moyes has a plan, he's taking too long to implement it. And that means he either doesn't have the conviction in it, or it's a shitty plan. It's not true that dropping out of the top four would be a disaster - it might be the wake-up call we need, and any players we'd likely be forced to get rid of as a result are people whose departure could be a blessing in disguise (Rooney) or players who are on the slide and not likely to stick around or be effective for too much longer anyway (Van Persie.) But we could really use the wake-up call, something, anything, to get us out of this mess.

If there is one silver lining in this season, it's that it should be the final nail in the coffin for all the idiots who pointed to silverware when grumbles about dour football were raised, and claimed "the three points are all that count" after another unwatchable 1-0 win against Fulham. This is what happens, and this is where we are. Maybe we get the squad we deserve, I don't know. But this squad is certainly getting the season it deserves, and one it's deserved for a long time.

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