Manchester United's new manager already has a number of issues that he will need to make decisions on in the coming months.
Having complained about Manchester United’s opening set of fixtures, their manager, David Moyes, emerged from his first seven competitive games with a record of four wins, one draw and two defeats.
The losses column includes the 4-1 drubbing at Manchester City, but has a kinder run of fixtures, beginning with West Bromwich Albion today.
A look at five areas that require Moyes’s attention.
Main defensive pairing
Fitness concerns meant that the defensive partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand was aligned in only nine league games during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season, but Moyes selected the pair for his first six matches. That run of games culminated in the capitulation at City.
In Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Moyes has plenty of options at centre-back, but he must first decide whether to retain faith in his two elder statesmen.
Wings are clipped
United have long been renowned for their dashing wing play, but the club’s wide players have gone cold over the past year. Antonio Valencia no longer bursts past left-backs with the explosive pace he exhibited in his first two seasons at the club, while Ashley Young was lambasted for a careless display at City and Nani remains a model of inconsistency.
The nimble Wilfried Zaha, meanwhile, has not played since the Community Shield.
A year into his time at Old Trafford, Kagawa is still to make a breakthrough despite several encouraging performances, including a hat-trick in a home win over Norwich City in March.
With the re-motivated Wayne Rooney installed as Moyes’s first-choice No 10, Kagawa finds himself competing with Danny Welbeck, Young and Nani for a place in the United attack
He impressed in the 4-2 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen, but of his performance in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Liverpool in the League Cup, Moyes said “there were bits where we were looking for a little bit more”.
With Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez at his disposal, Moyes does not lack firepower, but the season’s main prizes may elude United if their wide players and central midfielders are unable to relieve some of the burden on the forwards.
The new signing Marouane Felliani, in particular, will be expected to give United a keener cutting edge on set pieces.
More careful counsel
Moyes has been more open with the press than his predecessor.
While the end of the Ferguson-imposed omerta has been welcomed, some of Moyes’s observations have invited criticism; notably his complaints about United’s fixtures and his candid revelations about the club’s failings in the close-season transfer window.
He may come to appreciate that the wall of silence erected by his predecessor helped create the sense of power and mystique that surrounds the club.