Manchester United will need to go back to the drawing board after being beaten 1-0 by Liverpool on Sunday and putting in a mediocre performance on Merseyside.
The defeat is David Moyes’ first as manager of the Old Trafford club, which has yielded four points from the Scot’s first three games in charge.
Here are five things that became evident in United’s defeat to Liverpool.
A worrying lack of creativity
With no Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa inexplicably left out also, United failed to create the chances needed to get a breakthrough. Liverpool were organised and stubborn in the defensive efforts and a player with guile and an eye for a killer pass was need to break this down.
Without the omitted pair or a new midfield playmaker, United may find that they struggle to break teams down, especially in the Champions League. A bit more craft is needed in the Old Trafford side.
Moyes’ decisions will be highly scrutinised
With David Moyes’ appointment still a point of contention for some, the Scot’s substitutions and team selection will be critiqued in his early days as United boss.
The former Everton coach opted to replace injured Phil Jones with Antonio Valencia rather than Chris Smalling, which proved a success as the Ecuadorian added an attacking threat for the visitors.
The introduction of Nani and Javier Hernandez failed to really make much of an impact, and many will question just why playmaker Shinji Kagawa has been on the fringes this term.
Giggs is a legend but a fading force
Ryan Giggs will go down as a Manchester United legend and the veteran still has the ability to play in the Premier League. However, relying on a 39-year-old to play in the highly competitive area of midfield in big games is not a ploy that Moyes will want to bank on.
At this stage in his career, Giggs should be offering his experience to younger players and being a squad rotation player rather than an automatic starter. The Welshman misplaced a number of passes in the clash with Liverpool and his influence in the game was minimal.
Welbeck is more effective through the middle
Although not the creative force that Rooney represents, Danny Welbeck was one of the brighter players in United’s defeat and certainly was more effective and prominent in a second striker role than he was wide against Chelsea.
The problem that Moyes has is whether he can facilitate Welbeck in a central role and still have Rooney and Robin van Persie in the same team.
This season will be a lot tighter than last
United walked to the Premier League title last year with Manchester City and Chelsea not posing a consistent threat to the Old Trafford side. However, with transition at United and other teams strengthening, a more competitive title race is in the offing.
United have every chance of retaining their crown, but can expect the margin of victory to be significantly less than last term’s eleven.