David Moyes has said that he does not know what else Manchester United can do after they lost 2-1 away to Stoke City on Saturday.
The defeat – their fourth in six games – leaves the title-holders seven points adrift of the Champions League spots and four behind sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Moyes rued his team’s lack of fortune following the game, in which they controlled possession but actually managed fewer shots on target than the hosts.
“I don’t know what we have to do to win,” the manager said.
“I thought we were extremely unlucky. We played well but for their first goal it was an incredible deflection and the second was a worldy.”
Charlie Adam scored both of the Potters’ goals either side of Robin van Persie’s equaliser – while the first took a wicked deflection off Michael Carrick, there was nothing fortuitous about the second.
United’s profligacy in front of goal has been a recurring theme this season, and an issue to which it was thought the respective returns of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney would provide a remedy.
Conversely, numerous chances were squandered and the reignited hope that new signing Juan Mata had brought looked all but extinguished as the Reds succumbed to Stoke for the first time in the league since 1984.
“We made numerous chances and opportunities to score, but we couldn’t take them,” said Moyes.
“Yes, Wayne went close but we also got to the byeline and cut things back three or four times without getting on the end of it, or picking anyone out in the box.”
While United attempted to mount a comeback in the final quarter of an hour it lacked their trademark competitive edge, a problem which Moyes believes should not have arisen.
“We should have been out of sight with the amount of opportunities we had today and we only have ourselves to blame,” he said.
In contrast to the never-say-die attitude instilled under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, United have not managed to rescue a single point in the final ten minutes of a game this season.
They have scored just 39 league goals during the campaign, compared to 59 at this point in 2012-13, and Moyes has accumulated one point less as Reds’ manager after 24 games than he did with Everton last year.
While fourth place is still a reasonable option, United will have to turn around their form – they have lost more of their last ten games than any of the teams above them – with a win against Fulham on Sunday.
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