Old Trafford – an inviting place under David Moyes

It was always going to be a mammoth task replacing legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with David Moyes seemingly struggling with the weight of expectation at the historic club.

Although United are through to the knockout rounds of the Champions League and could still pose an unlikely but mathematically possible Premier League title threat, one element to the former Everton manager’s tenure at the club has been a major concern.

Results at Old Trafford.

United have managed just 14 points from their ten games on home soil this season in the Premier League, which goes against everything that Ferguson established during his time at the club.

A trip to Old Trafford used to be one of the dreaded away days for every other team in the land, but the Theatre of Dreams has been decidedly more inviting this season.

Title rivals Chelsea and Arsenal were not given an easy ride, with the former drawing and the latter losing in Manchester. Crystal Palace and West Ham have also suffered defeats at the hands of the champions.

Stoke were also edged out by United at Old Trafford, but the hosts were counting their lucky stars after riding a considerable amount of luck in their 3-2 victory over Mark Hughes’ men.

Red Devils fans have been accustomed to seeing their team score late goals to win matches or pick up a positive result, but it was visitors Southampton that netted at the death to record a well-deserved 1-1 draw back in October.

The rest of the fixtures make dire and record-breaking reading for the Old Trafford faithful.

A 2-1 defeat to West Brom marked the first time that the Baggies had picked up a victory at Old Trafford since 1978 – 35 years in the making.

Everton were next to pick up three points at the home of the champions, with Bryan Oviedo’s goal marking the first Toffees victory at the Manchester club since 1992.

Yohan CabayeNewcastle made it two defeats in a week for the champions when Yohan Cabaye scored the decisive strike for Alan Pardew’s men. The travelling support had every reason to celebrate wholeheartedly, as the Tyneside club had not won at Old Trafford before that for 41 years (1972).

Tottenham inflicted defeat on Moyes and his team recently with a 2-1 victory, making it two consecutive away wins for the north London club at Old Trafford. They had not won there before that for 23 years.

These results leave United in seventh place, with only ten wins from their first 20 games – 11 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal. Given that Moyes’ charges have picked up 20 points on the road this term, it is those results at Old Trafford that see the champions in their current predicament.

Matters were made all the worse when Swansea knocked United out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Sunday in the third round – with another late goal, this time from Wilfried Bony, deciding the game. It was the Welsh club’s first-ever away win against Manchester United.

It appears that with Ferguson no longer at the helm, the fear factor of Old Trafford has dissipated to a whimper. Teams are no longer reluctant to travel to the home of the champions, with a damage limitation exercise turned on its head into a mission to win all three points.

The teams that have won at Old Trafford on paper should not be getting three points against the champions – but there is an argument to suggest that all five were the better team against United. Stoke and Southampton could claim likewise.

It is clearly a transitional time for United, with Moyes having potentially the biggest task in English football on his hands – make Old Trafford a fortress again.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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