Why Old Trafford has lost its fear factor

Since being christened the "Theatre of Dreams" by Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, Old Trafford has generally been only a source of nightmares for visiting managers and players.

 

As Sir Alex Ferguson built United into one of the world's most successful clubs, the iconic ground became Britain's biggest club stadium, with a capacity of almost 76,000.

But the aura around the 104-year-old venue was not simply about bricks and mortar. It was about title-winning teams, Ferguson barking orders from the touchline and the illustrious names lined up in the red of United.

With Ferguson no longer at the helm, things have changed. Under David Moyes, his successor, United have won four and lost four of their opening 10 home matches in the Premier League this season.

That equates to a win percentage of 40% - United's lowest at this stage since 1989-90, when they were three seasons away from winning the league title after a 26-year drought.

So has the 'fear factor' that made many visiting players freeze at Old Trafford now disappeared?

Stoke City boss and former United striker Mark Hughes, who made 467 appearances for the Red Devils  in two separate spells in the 1980s and 1990s, believes it has.

"Even when I was playing for Manchester United, you thought you had teams beaten in the tunnel," he says. "That's not the case now."

How bad is Manchester United's home form?

The defending champions, who finished nine points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City in May, have taken just 14 points from a possible 30 on home turf this season.

City boast a flawless 100% winning record in their 10 league games at Etihad Stadium while newly promoted Hull, under former United stalwart Steve Bruce, have claimed 18 points at the KC Stadium. Eight other teams also boast a better home record than Moyes's side.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 January 2014 01:26
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