It was early December 2013. Manchester United had just lost 1-0 to Newcastle United. It meant the reigning champs had lost back-to-back home matches for the first time since 2002, and it was Newcastle's first win at Old Trafford since before the end of the Vietnam War. In his first season replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes had managed the team to just 22 points from 15 matches. Nearly midway through the season, they were in ninth -- four points closer to the relegation zone than to first place.
Just about everything was going wrong, as confirmed by the manager and the club in one of the all-time-great team-account tweets of the early Twitter era. No memes, no weird half-ironies only understood by those of us who spend all day refreshing our accounts, no context necessary. Just this plain-spoken bit of perfection: "David Moyes says #mufc must improve in a number of areas, including passing, creating chances and defending."
Now, I wrote about how Manchester United hadn't advanced beyond the Moyes era ... three years ago. And yet, that tweet from 2013 might be even more relevant today than when it was first published. Two games into the current campaign, United sit last in the league table, with two losses from two games and a minus-5 goal differential.
If new manager Erik ten Hag is going to turn this thing around, his team must improve in a number of key areas, including passing, creating chances and defending. But how?