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Following Manchester united, waiting for the sardines

Posts tagged match report

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Going for broke

You want me to play where, Mr Moyes?

Observations on Manchester United from last night’s match against Arsenal at the Emirates…

  • Moyes’ talk of sticking with the same game-plan - e.g. slamming the ball into the box over and over again - was a lie. This would have been a very good mind-game to play with Wenger if it hadn’t been followed up with an even more tepid display than that in the 2-2 draw with Fulham at Old Trafford. 
  • Arsenal have been on a stormer this season, but the legs have started to feel the pace. They were there for the taking, but Dave deployed the ‘happy with a point’ tactics that saw the ball passed between midfield and defence towards the end of the game.
  • Juan Mata is not a left winger. He had license to roam, but with Patrice Evra prone to nodding off mid-game, there needs to be someone who can get up and down the pitch to help out. Mata needs to play behind the striker(s) to get the best out of him.
  • Why Januzaj is suddenly being used off the bench when Moyes deemed him good enough to start all those games early on in the season is anyone’s guess. He *can* actually play on the wing, unlike Mata.
  • And unlike Valencia and Young who’s only contribution in an attacking sense is to run fast in a straight line, stop, and cut a pass backwards. United will need two more creative wingers.
  • van Persie and Rooney’s battle to prove who really is the big dog up top at United is costing the team goals. The only time they passed to each other, it almost made a goal, but for a great save. 
  • Tom Cleverley had his best game all season. No doubt spurred on by the dog’s abuse that his own fans levelled at him through Twitter. He’s still not good enough for Manchester United, mind.
  • It doesn’t matter how many ‘Juan Matas’ we buy in the summer, if Moyes persists in playing this turgid brand of football he’ll sap the life out of any creative talent.
  • Chris Smalling is still not a right back and looks so uneasy as he gallops forward that it’s no wonder he rarely receives a pass up the pitch.
  • My tears for Shinji and Hernandez know no bounds.

Mostly bad stuff then, eh? Still, a point at Arsenal under Fergie would’ve been hailed as a tactical master-stroke, but with the Gunners looking leggy, United could’ve shown more gusto in getting forward and going for the win. A clean sheet isn’t too bad either.

With a top four finish improbable, and the fans already on his back, it’s time for Moyes to get creative. If he’s capable of such a thing. 

This means a change of formation, tactics and personnel. Nothing drastic like bringing in untested reserve team players, but putting trust in the talents at his disposal and finding the best setup that suits them instead of the other way round. Kagawa, Hernandez, Nani and Fellaini - fitness permitting - should be given a chance to shine rather than left to rot. 

Playing Mata out wide is like when you play FIFA or PES and you crowbar an unnecessary luxury signing onto the pitch. He’s wasted out there, just like Shinji is. Januzaj was effective in the wide role until Juan usurped him with super stardom, but they can easily play together under the right guidance. You just can’t imagine Guardiola being unable to solve this conundrum

The fans are growing restless with Moyes’ approach and those ‘Moyes Out’ shouts will become louder and louder. Summer is still a long time away, and if Dave can’t get this group of players ticking - the same team that won the league last season - then it going to be very difficult to convince new talent to park up at the creativity vacuum that is currently Old Trafford.


Filed under match report moyes

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Kagawa the key

Shinji says relax

The one thing that Sir Alex Ferguson will possibly regret in his retirement was his inability to get the best out of Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international arrived as a two-times Bundesliga Player of the Season from Borussia Dortmund, but has faded into the background at United ever since.

In fits and starts, Shinji has shown what he can do. Gliding through defenders in fluid motions. Threading intricate through-balls to his team-mates. And even popping up with a hat-trick against Norwich. Yet he’s never truly found a permanent place in the side - whether that’s down to having his stomach pumped or, more likely, failing to impress out on the left flank.

On Saturday night in the 2-0 win over Swansea, Moyes named Kagawa in his starting XI. Not for the first time, he was pushed out to the wing with Januzaj preferred as the player in the ‘hole’. He toiled in the first half and struggled to impose himself on the game from out wide. Another game, another disappointment.

But after half time, and much to the joy of United fans (not that the ‘Moyes out’ brigade will acknowledge) the gaffer swapped Adnan and Shinji around and the entire dynamic of the team changed for the better. As obvious as it seems, Moyes has the opportunity to succeed where Fergie failed by putting faith in Kagawa to deliver from his favoured position.

With the still rusty pairing of Fletcher and Carrick providing the base for attack, Kagawa was able to link attacks together and set Welbeck, Januzaj and Valencia away. United looked far more like a solid team than they have in recent weeks and controlled the game after the break.

With van Persie and Rooney likely out of the match at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Moyes at least must recognise that Kagawa - played in his correct position - can help to control games in midfield.

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Match report: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United: Little Pea to the rescue. Again

He’s already started to repay his brand new five year contract. Brilliant

When the starting XI was revealed at 11am, I don’t think any United fan would’ve guessed the line-up that Sir Alex had selected. No Rooney, Hernandez or Nani from the off was a big surprise and even though Phil Jones has played in central midfield with Blackburn Rovers it still seemed an odd choice to play him alongside Fletcher in what was a creatively bereft partnership.

What was clear was that Fergie didn’t want another humiliating defeat at Anfield, which was signified by Danny Welbeck riding solo up front. SAF could’ve been pulling a master-stroke with this line-up, especially with Liverpool no doubt training all week to deal with Chicarito and Wazza. Or maybe he just set up not to lose.

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Filed under liverpool match report hernandez

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Match report: Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea - Much closer than the score suggests

Nani flips out in excitement after his thunderbolt strike

The life of a football fan is a maddening one. Even at 3-0 up I was bobbing around the house with ever increasing nervous energy. You simply can’t take a scoreline for granted in these huge games and United certainly kept the game close with some careless passing and flat-footed defending. But a win is a win, especially against Chelsea.

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Filed under match report nani smalling chelsea rooney