There is something rather incongruous about Shakhtar Donetsk’s Donbass Arena. Located in an industrial city which is surrounded by an archipelago of slag heaps, it is nevertheless housed in a lush, landscaped garden, with perfectly-designed flower beds and a sculpted waterfall reminiscent of a luxury health spa.
Which is probably fitting, because as Manchester United manager David Moyes takes his team to Ukraine for Wednesday’s Champions League fixture, he may well feel in need of a restorative break and a Reiki massage after a decidedly stressful start to life as Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement.
Three defeats in six league games represent the club’s worst start for 24 years and with doubts growing ever stronger regarding Moyes’s ability to step into Ferguson’s shoes, Wednesday night’s match has taken on real significance.
A muddled attacking approach coupled with an uncharacteristically creaky defence and a weak midfield means the problems are mounting up for Moyes, but despite the critics sharpening their pencils and the fans growing restless it's not all doom and gloom.
There almost certainly ought to be at any rate; it's Man Utd we're talking about, for crying out loud! So we decided to sit down and have a think, and we came up with half a dozen reasons why the United boss shouldn’t feel too downbeat about his start at United…
1. Wayne Rooney’s happy and in form
The chances of Moyes holding onto a player he once successfully sued for libel – and who appeared to be agitating for a move away from the club, via his representatives – seemed remote at one stage of the summer, but it is to the manager’s credit that he managed to keep hold of the striker, who has now scored five goals in his past five games for United.
Rooney’s commitment to United has wavered dramatically in recent years but most of the fans still love him - and when he is on form, there are few better forwards in world football. Moyes might be getting the best out of him.
2. He’s going to have plenty of money to spend in January?
According to reports on Tuesday, United are ready to give Moyes around £50m to spend in the New Year as they seek to avoid the disastrous possibility of finishing outside of the top four. Who could they spend all that money on? Cesc Fabregas maybe? Apparently Athletic Bilbao have a decent player named Ander Herrera. Oh, and that Thiago at Bayern is supposed to be pretty good too.
With those targets in mind and Ed Woodward on the case, what could go wrong?
3. Robin van Persie
Hmmm. We're struggling for reasons already. Does it show?
4. He can call on potentially United’s greatest ever player
No, not Bebe – he’s out on loan at Pacos de Ferreira. The potential great alluded to is of course Phil Jones, who was described by Fergie at the end of last season as having the ability to be the finest player in the history of Britain’s most successful club.
Never mind the fact that his form this season hasn’t been particularly starry, or that he keeps getting shunted around the team to find a position for him, Moyes just needs to get things to click with the former Blackburn man and he’s got the new Duncan Edwards on his hands. Maybe.
5. He’s Scottish
Scots aren’t famed for possessing sunny dispositions – the adjective ‘dour’ is a prominent thread of the national stereotype - but they certainly have a fine pedigree at United. Sir Matt Busby, from Bellshill, and Sir Alex Ferguson, of Govan, became two of Britain’s finest ever managers thanks to their legendary exploits at Old Trafford. Beasden’s most famous native son – aside from Pop Idol clown Darius Danesh, he of the ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ atrocity – will hope common ancestry heralds a similar level of achievement.
6. Even the worst case scenario really ain't that bad
So what even if it does all go horribly wrong? We're talking about a man with a six-year contract. Moyes can rest assured in the knowledge that even if he gets United relegated and gets himself fired, he'll be assured of a vast pay-off that will allow him to buy a castle back in his homeland and live out the rest of his life in fabulous luxury.