David Moyes: The real deal at Old Trafford? Part 2

          The English Premier League is now in full gear and the transfer market is now closed. David Moyes is already having a taste of what it feels like to coach at the top level. Moyes has now overseen 4 official matches and the matches have been a mix of results. The first match been the curtain raiser, the Community Shield was a good match. A 2-0 win against FA Cup winners and Championship side Wigan Athletic courtesy of a double from the prolific man Robin van Persie. It was a good start to a new season for a new manager. Then the EPL officially kicked off against one of the ‘tiki-takans’ or ‘possessionist’ of the game, Swansea City. Swansea of course had a fantastic season last season, winning the Capital One Cup and finishing a record high position 9th in the league. Playing against them wasn’t going to be easy even more in their home, the Liberty Stadium and you would expect them to have all the possession to kill United, you would nearly think that Swansea would break the duck soon but that wasn’t the case. They lacked the finishing edge in the final third and that proved fatal for them. United had the better edge despite Swansea’s possession and they eventually broke the silence through that prolific man again RvP. Swansea had the possession, they had the chances but they lacked one thing: Robin van Persie who was always there to deliver the goals. Danny Welbeck added to the score before halftime and both scored again in the second half to finish the game off with a 4-1 victory. Welbeck bettered his league goals tally of last season of one goal scoring twice in the game. He might have a better goal tally this season but it’s most likely RvP will outscore him and the rest of United’s strikers. Two games, two wins, it seems David Moyes was in cloud 9 with such a good start to his top job.

            The next match would be his first official game at Old Trafford against Europa Champions Chelsea with the ‘only one’ Jose Mourinho back with the blues. Another difficult match it would be, even tougher than against Swansea. The match ended in a bore draw. The match lack any real chances, both keepers rarely tested and spent most time shielding the back. One would think that since Mourinho spent 3years of attacking football at Real Madrid, his approach would change but he was back to his old self, employing defensive tactics, something he never did in the classico’s against Barcelona. A draw it was and David Moyes must still have been pleased, after all a point is better than no point. The next game was against bitter rivals Liverpool. Moyes didn’t need an introduction to that. He had a more bitter rivalry with Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby. The game was played at Anfield ad for the record, Moyes has never beaten Liverpool at Anfield. 7 defeats and 5 draws is a horrible record. All that happened while he was in charge at Goodison Park. You might think well Moyes is now in a better and stronger team so his first victory at Anfield will be in the bag. That wasn’t the case. Liverpool took a 1-0 win to maintain a 100% start to the season. Something they hadn’t achieved since 1994. Liverpool played the better in the 1st half but United regrouped in the 2nd half and put in a better show but couldn’t convert into goals thanks to Liverpool’s stout defense and superb heroics from goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Not the result Moyes liked and his bad record at Anfield now extends to 8 loses. 4 matches, 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 lose, not bad for a manager that is feeling the pressure of being at a top flight club.

            The transfer market did not see Manchester United look very active compared to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur that spent millions of pounds in bringing in talented and exciting players. United spent most of the transfer market chasing shadows over targets that either seemed unrealistic or did not think of moving for those targets. The chase for Cesc Fabregas was unrealistic and took much time. Time waits for no one. Everyone thought United would go through the transfer window without making any major and significant signing. It had to be the last day of the window, with some few minutes to midnight that United felt they could make major signings in Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Fabio Contrao. It’s not easy to make such signings in a short space of time. Fellaini was eventually signed and the other two failed which brings the question as to why United didn’t sort for these players earlier rather than focus on Fabregas like that was the top and only priority. It seems a shame for United to act like that in the transfer market, but should you blame someone who hasn’t felt a luxury of transfer funds at his disposal. Sometimes when you have too much money, you don’t know what to do with it and go for silly and irrelevant things. This was evident with Mark Hughes when he was Manager at Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers. He had a lot at his disposal and wasted resources buying irrelevant players. The board says an investigation should be made as to why transfers were inactive with Fellaini the only major signing. That sounds ridiculous and whatever the result is would also be ridiculous.

            With the transfer window closed and Fellaini added to the team, Moyes now has his full squad. Wayne Rooney is now staying at least till January and hopefully end of the season so nerves can relax a bit. Questions are still been asked as to the formation Moyes will employ. so far in his 4 officials matches, he employed a 4-3-3 formation which isn’t bad but another question is who gets to play if he uses the formation? Certain players might not see much playing time or will not adapt to the system. Fellaini being a big money signing of 27.5 million pounds logically needs to play and considering how versatile he is but you need to ask what role will he play? A defensive or attacking one? What of Shinji Kagawa? This talented midfielder mostly played out of his favored position last season and it affected his performances. He hasn’t seen much playing time this season and the fans of his ex-club Borussia Dortmund have been showing their disgust as to how their ex-player has been dropped by Moyes. Wayne Rooney will definitely be playing out of position if Moyes uses the 4-3-3 and Welbeck too with RvP the main striker but you need to wonder why use two natural strikers on the flanks when they could score? Is it when RvP doesn’t find the net that both will be shifted to their natural positions? I feel people haven’t been convinced with as the main striker. In the matches he played as the main striker for England in Rooney’s absence, he scored in most of them. Putting him wide limits his chances of scoring and that’s not good for someone considered a natural striker. If these 3 strikers make up the attack, what happens to the wingers Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia and Wilfried Zaha? If these 3 strikers start regularly, these 4 wingers might have limited playing time. The addition of Fellaini would make playing time hard for the trio of Kagawa, Tom Cleverly and Anderson. There’s still Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez to contend with strikers and the future of Darren Fletcher who is still battling with a chronic bowel disorder.

            The defense looks steady but worries will arise is someone gets injured. Rafael who has now developed into a top full back is injured and Phil Jones has been deployed at right back in his absence, unfortunately he seems injured at the moment too. Jones isn’t bad on the right but he needs to get a training program on his crossing. His crossing was awful against Liverpool and United right backs from Gary Neville to Wes Brown and Rafael know how to cross very well. Using Valencia at right back doesn’t sound ideal because he can attack upfront but withdrawing back to defend will be a big issue for him unless he is trained in defensive aspects. The goalkeeping department is steady as David de Gea has shown he deserves to wear the no.1 shirt and not Anders Lindergaard. It’s really yet to be seen what David Moyes tactical approach will be and how he will utilize the large squad at his disposal but whatever he decides to do, it must bring positive results on the field of play.

            The Champions’ league group stages have been made and United have been pitted with Ukrainian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk who have had some really impressive performances against big oppositions, German side Bayer Leverkusen who have been steady in the competition for a while and Real Sociedad of Spain whom are one of the surprise packages in the tournament. It’s not going to be an easy group. Each team have fantastic players and if United don’t show character and determination over these teams, the possibility of United finishing at the bottom of the group will seem likely than one could imagine. The rest is still unseen and as the season progresses, then can we know if David Moyes is the real deal at Old Trafford or not.




Kunle Fayiga

Writer & Blogger

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