By Suhas BhatFollow @@suhasrbhat
At the start of the season, a Scottish manager had been placed at the Old Trafford helm in the hope that the departure of another would not prove problematic.
A title-winning squad was barely changed and the commitment of a talismanic forward appeared to have been begrudgingly obtained as the club looked forward to a new chapter in its life.
Six months on, it all seems to be unravelling quite disastrously.
United have thus far suffered six losses in the league, exited the FA Cup and, last night, were beaten by Sunderland in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Comebacks and injury-time winners have been replaced by an inexplicable sinking feeling of dread whenever opponents score a goal. There have also been repeated calls for reinforcements for a squad previously considered a competitive one.
It makes you think of #MoyesOut, a popular hashtag that was often bandied about on social networking websites earlier in the season.
Those in the footballing fraternity had dismissed it as an immature response by certain overly sensitive fans who had become accustomed to continual success under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United stoically stuck to the script, penned initially by Ferguson, stating at every opportunity that they do not believe in a culture of sacking and would stick with Moyes through thick and thin.
The fog of despair has become quite thick, though, and it prompts you to wonder exactly what would constitute the breaking point. I'm sure the club will stick with Moyes till beyond the end of the season but there is likely to be a mental checklist that will be drawn up in the upper echeleons and calculations will have begun in earnest.
The Barclays Premier League champions are five points adrift of the final Champions League berth, currently occupied by arch-rivals Liverpool. It's not a surety that the gap will be bridged anytime soon as United, shockingly, already have lost thrice this year, with none of the results having come against traditional rivals.
In the continent's top-tier competition, United have been paired up against Olympiacos which doesn't appear altogether a challenging proposition. But even if they do progress to the quarter-finals, Moyes' side don't look like they can take on high-fliers such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund.
The Capital One Cup appears the only likely source of silverware but Fabio Borini's penalty has given the Black Cats the edge. Even a reversal may not amount to much as United would then probably have to face city rivals Manchester City in the final and the men in blue look much more of a dangerous proposition now than they did in their 4-1 triumph earlier in the season.
Of course, ardent supporters will point out that even Ferguson floundered at the start of his reign and United actually finished in the bottom half of the table for a couple of seasons as they found their bearings under their new manager in the 1980s.
Success, in this line of reasoning, is not as important because Moyes has yet to figure out the style of play that works best for the club. Moreover, he might need more players of his choosing and it will take some time for the club to adapt to the man in charge even as the Scot tries to do the same.
But that argument is weakening on a daily basis as there appears to be little chemistry between the players and the manager. Marouane Fellaini, Moyes' sole signing, sticks out in the United midfield as he appears more suitable as a bulwark in a defensive side instead of a midfielder in a unit that seeks to attack from the offset.
Senior figures such as Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra have seen age catch up with them but any attempts to rest them has served to put a spotlight on the inexperience of the younger players.
Without as fiery a presence as that of Ferguson, the players also seem to have eased off and they do not emerge from the dugout after the restart with the same injection of energy that they had in previous seasons.
Tactically, it also looks like Moyes is still sticking to the formula that worked at former side Everton with his midfielders focusing on disrupting the opponents' style of play and then attacking from deep. The crosses have largely been sub-standard and it has proven to be a tiresome affair, leading to lapses in concentration in the second half of most games.
Still incapable of coming to terms with the fact that he has more than two strikers at his disposal, many of Moyes' strategems have also focused on ensuring adequate supply to a poacher whereas under Ferguson, the attackers were always an integral part of the build-up.
In terms of squad rotation, his over-reliance on Antonio Valencia is perplexing given the Ecuadorian's dip in form and it's disheartening to see the manager turn to Adnan Januzaj, as the teenage sensation has become a regular squad player, for the unexpected spark in attack.
United definitely need to buy new players but Moyes' unsuccessful courting of several top players last summer coupled with his aversion to extraneous spending hints that worldclass players are not about to come to Old Trafford anytime soon.
All these concerns might prompt some to even consider if United might be better off with replacing Moyes with a different manager come the end of the season.
In the end, I don't think that any such action will be taken, though, as United will want to stay true to tradition. But at this particular moment, after what has been quite a torrid start to the new year for United fans, Moyes may have already lost a key supporter or two within the club hierarchy and the possiblity doesn't appear a remote one.
"3 years of excuses and it's still crap … ta ra Fergie," read a famous banner condemning Ferguson during the early part of his reign.
At this juncture, I have a hard time believing if Moyes should even be allowed to stay in charge for even that long.