Mircea Lucescu, the veteran coach of Shakhtar Donetsk, has identified David Moyes's rotation policy as the cause of Manchester United's worst start to a league season in 24 years.
United face Shakhtar in the Champions League on Wednesday having lost three of their past four games in the Premier League and with Moyes struggling with the transition from Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford.
The trip to Donetsk is only Moyes's second fixture in the Champions League, in stark contrast to what will be a 109th appearance in the competition for Lucescu. And while the Romanian believes the United manager will deliver in time with the Premier League champions, he cited rotation – an aspect of management that Moyes rarely had to deal with at Everton – as a root cause of the team's early-season troubles.
Lucescu said: "There will always be a change of philosophy under a new coach and every coach needs time to work in a proper way. This is why David Moyes is facing difficulties at this stage. But we have analysed the United games and of course we noticed there are always changes in the squad, maybe four or five players [in each game].
"This rotation means the links between the players can be affected and I think turnover can cause a lot of problems sometimes. We have also discovered that here. The other big teams in the English championship, such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, are not rotating the team as much as United and maybe that is a factor.
"We know the work of Mr Moyes from Everton, though, and he is one of the strongest coaches in the Premier League. He needs some time to work with his players and let's hope the team finds a good pattern, after tomorrow night."
Lucescu expects United to be greeted by "a cauldron" at the Donbass Arena on Wednesday and predicted both managers will "pick our most experienced players." He also admitted Moyes faces an unenviable task to emulate the United class of 1999, when Ferguson's team overcame Lucescu's Internazionale en route to the treble.
"Fourteen years ago we played against United and Ferguson with Inter Milan and I have good memories of this game," recalled the 68-year-old. "We scored first and United equalised to go through and they won the Champions League. The team then was a machine for winning trophies. They had great players such as Giggs and Beckham and played and won against the likes of Inter, Juventus and Bayern Munich."