When Alex Ferguson finally called time on his career, he stood on the Old Trafford pitch and invited Manchester United fans to support his successor by remembering the dark times as well as the good.
“I’d also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me,” he said in May, urging them to get behind David Moyes, the man he had helped chose to succeed him.
“Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.”
It was a moment of gloomy prophesy to dampen the mood of yet another league title, but the boos that greeted the final whistle of United’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Swansea on Sunday suggest Ferguson’s words have fallen on deaf ears.
The patience of those who flock to Old Trafford and have witnessed unparalleled levels of success in recent years is being tested to the limits after the succession took another stuttered step backwards.
David Moyes, the increasingly beleaguered Manchester United manager, admits he urgently needs to buy new players in the January transfer window but confesses that it may not be possible to do so.
Moyes only brought in Marouane Fellaini, from his former club Everton, after taking over at Old Trafford in the summer and with every growing setback, pressure is mounting on him to improve a squad that is looking well beyond par and which was without seven injured first team players on Sunday.
“I said I would try but probably would be doubtful in January because of the window but I think I have been saying it fairly consistently,” said Moyes of his efforts to sign new talent this month.
“There is an urgency that we would like to bring people in but are those players available in January? “So there is no point in me hyping it up because the players we would like to bring in are probably not available in January, not because we don’t want to do it.”
The most glaring absentees from the United side were forwards Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie while the late dismissal of young defender Fabio certainly did not aid United’s cause as they fell to a last minute goal from Wilfried Bony.
However, Moyes refused to use the absence of key personnel as an excuse for a defeat which also featured a goal for Wayne Routledge and a quick United reply from Javier Hernandez.
“That is no excuse,” he said. “We had a very strong team out, just about every player we had out was an international player, maybe Alex Buttner wasn’t but the others are internationals.
United and Moyes at least have the opportunity to respond quickly, with a League Cup semi-final first leg awaiting in Sunderland on Tuesday although Rooney and van Persie remain major doubts for the tie.
“It has been a tough start, a tough opening period,” said Moyes. “I am disappointed we have not won more games or played better but I am sure it will change.”
Swansea, who won at Old Trafford for the first time, were good value for the victory with manager Michael Laudrup praising his players for retaining their confidence despite bringing a run of seven games without a win into the tie.