David Moyes is finding the Manchester United job far tougher than expected as the club goes through an uneasy managerial transition after almost 27 years with Alex Ferguson in charge. The Premier League champions have made their worst start to a domestic campaign since 1989, slipping to 14th after six games.
The Champions League group stage started brightly, though, with a victory over Bayer Leverkusen. Next up is Shakhtar Donetsk. Here are five things to know about that match and Bayer Leverkusen vs. Real Sociedad in Group A on Wednesday.
Lacking stars: United’s manager is already downplaying expectations of glory in Europe just one match into the group stage. “To win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players,” Moyes said. “Look at Bayern Munich, they have it. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past and Real Madrid, who have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to be at to win it. We’ve not got that yet but what we have got is experience.”
One of United’s few world-class players is Wayne Rooney, who has scored five goals in as many games since the transfer window closed and he was forced to stay at Old Trafford after pushing for a move.
Record breaker: Ryan Giggs can eclipse Raul’s Champions League appearance record if he features at Donetsk. The 39-year-old Giggs is level on 144 appearances with the former Real Madrid striker. “Raul is up there as one of the very best,” Giggs said. “He has a great goal-scoring record and he’s won the competition three times. If I do pass him it will be a great source of pride for me.”
Giggs, a two-time Champions League winner, is combining playing now with a coaching role under Moyes, but is also evidence on United’s reliance on older players. “His pace, his control and his speed of thought continue to stagger me,” United great Bobby Charlton said. “I just can’t believe he’s nearly 40. In my playing days everyone just assumed you were finished when you reached 30, but there he is, still going strong.”
Ukraine reign: Mircea Lucescu hasn’t been at Shakhtar Donetsk as long as Giggs has spent at United, but he’s still a record breaker. Lucescu became the longest-serving head coach of Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday after reaching 3,417 days at the helm. While Lucescu’s side has never faced United, it beat Chelsea in the group stage last season as the London club failed to progress. Donetsk is third in Ukraine after 11 matches.
Kiessling for Germany: When Leverkusen hosts Sociedad, Germany striker Stefan Kiessling will be looking to strengthen his case for a spot in the national team. Kiessling has been a top Bundesliga striker for three seasons but has not been called up by Germany coach Joachim Loew since 2010. Kiessling has four goals this season and is being tipped for an international recall, especially since Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose are both injured ahead of the remaining two World Cup qualifiers.
Sociedad strife: There’s trouble at home and in Europe for the Spanish side. The Group A opener was lost 2-0 to Shakhtar, and in the Spanish league, the team has just one win from seven matches to sit 13th with seven points from seven.