Manchester United may be suffering stage-fright at the moment, but the focus should be on the players not the manager.
What once was the Theatre of Dreams has become akin to an Arena of Nightmares for Manchester United’s players and fans.
A visit to Old Trafford once filled practically every team in England – and a fair few on the continent – with dread, safe in the knowledge that they would have to play one of the games of their life to come away with a victory.
But now, that same stadium is a go-to ground for an easy three points or a smooth passage into the next round of the FA Cup.
It is no coincidence that United’s impressive recent form (including away wins against Aston Villa, Hull City and Norwich City) came to an abrupt halt at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Nor that Swansea City snatched a last-minute win at a place where that sort of thing had once been trademarked by the home team.
Old Trafford is suddenly about as far from a fortress as it is possible to get. But to blame David Moyes for this change would be wrong.
If the new United boss can get his side playing well (or at least well enough) away from home; if he can oversee Boxing Day comebacks and Champions League thrashings away to resurgent Bundesliga sides, then surely the home games should take care of themselves.
But it is the players who have let Moyes down – the players who, in many cases, have been playing at Old Trafford for all, or at least most, of their careers.
They need to take ownership of Old Trafford again. They need to reclaim it and return the fear factor to the opposition, rather than suffering from it themselves.
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