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Ferguson's prophecy comes true

LONDON - When Alex Ferguson took the microphone at Old Trafford in May to implore Manchester United supporters to back his self-appointed successor, David Moyes, he did so with a warning of tough times ahead. Few, though, would have expected it to be this trying.

LONDON - When Alex Ferguson took the microphone at Old Trafford in May to implore Manchester United supporters to back his self-appointed successor, David Moyes, he did so with a warning of tough times ahead. Few, though, would have expected it to be this trying.

"I'd like to remind you that we've had bad times here," Ferguson said after signing off his last match in charge at United's fortress home he had spent 27 years building up with a 2-1 win over Swansea City.

"The club stood by me. All my staff stood by me. The players stood by me. So your job now is to stand by our new manager.

"That is important."

Following Wednesday's League Cup semifinal exit at the hands of struggling Sunderland, that request is being severely tested by United fans all over the world who have gorged on the glory of trophy after trophy arriving at Old Trafford.

Their trophy hopes this season now lie only in the Champions League, where the English champions will remain confident of beating Greeks Olympiakos Pireaus in the last 16 next month, but less so of taking out others after that.

The absence of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie from the starting line-up in recent weeks has been greatly felt but the problems lie deeper than their return to fitness. Commentators question why Moyes is opting to be more defensive and shy away from the attacking style his predecessor implemented.

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