Football

Sir Alex to blame for Moyes early struggles

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Before Moyes had even stepped in the door at Carrington, media frenzy was gathering, the press were hungry to see blood in the former Everton man's first public outing as Old Trafford boss.

An immediate problem Moyes faced was Wayne Rooney, who was said to be furious at Sir Alex's claim that he had requested a transfer.

Although Moyes, allied with the heavily criticised Ed Woodward, eventually managed to fight off the advances of Chelsea, there is little doubt that the Wayne Rooney saga was an unneeded distraction in his maiden months.
 
In revealing the details of a private conversation, and according to Rooney exaggerating or falsifying them, Sir Alex essentially threw Moyes into a situation where his most iconic player was on the verge of an exit that would only accentuate the sense of upheaval at the club.

Before he even had a chance to get to know his squad or plan to enhance it, he was already desperately fighting to keep it intact.
 
Of course, even though Sir Alex sowed the seeds of the problem, Moyes did little to weed them out with his assertion that "if for any reasons we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we'll need him".

In the end, it was perhaps the Old Trafford faithful who deserve credit for pacifying the situation with an immense reception for their "confused" idol on his return to Old Trafford in the 0-0 draw against Chelsea.
 
The aftermath of the uneventful stalemate with Chelsea was a renewed call for more creativity in midfield. Moyes biggest failure, so far, has been his inability to attract a midfielder of greater pedigree than former protegee, Marouane Fellaini.
 
A summer of embarrassment was spent aimlessly chasing after La Liga maestros and haranguing their clubs like an obsessed stalker. The public nature of Moyes pursuit of Cesc Fabregas and the Anders Herrera imposter debacle were gross errors on the part of Moyes and his new chief executive, Woodward, but there should not have been such a desperate need to strengthen the midfield of the most decorated club in England.
 
United's midfield problems have been obvious to most spectators for at least five years now. It has been an area of attention since Roy Keane's departure in 2005. Sir Alex saw his team return to Premier League glory in 2007 in spite of a lack of midfield grit, thanks largely to the
virtuoso displays of Ronaldo. In the Champions League that year Kaka wreaked havoc, hence the recruitment of Owen Hargreaves.

The subsequent chronic injury problems of Hargreaves and Fletcher have left United vulnerable in this area, a fact illuminated by Barcelona's tiki taka masterclasses in the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011. Scholes' retirements (in 2011 and 2013) further exacerbate the problem.
 
In Paul Pogba United had a young box to box midfielder who could have been their general for the next decade, it was Sir Alex's limiting of his opportunities and greater faith in the experience of Giggs and Scholes that caused that jewel to be stolen by Juventus.

In the last three seasons, Ferguson ignored the fact that Michael Carrick was his only quality midfielder, and even Carrick struggles to dictate possession if the opposition play a high tempo with aggressive pressing (see vs. Liverpool this season or aforementioned Barcelona games). Instead, every transfer window saw the arrival of new wingers and strikers, but no
centre midfielder.

Kawaga was an exception but his talents as an attacking midfielder were hindered as he struggles to fit into United's emphasis on playing the ball out wide.
 
A standard pattern of play under Moyes has seen United's centre backs searching hopelessly for options; Carrick or Tom Cleverley eventually take possession, take a touch, look up, and play it wide. Whichever winger they chose will then stall, eyeing his marker nervously before passing back to his full back. Back to Carrick. Back to centre back. Back to De Gea.

This unadventurous play, which frustrates an underused Robin Van Persie, is not a Moyes innovation. It’s a pattern of play that United used to use to isolate a full back, before Nani tricked his way past or Valencia exploded past. In 2012, United's wingers had a combined 23 goals and 42 assists in the league. Last year that fell to a measly four goals and 13 assists.
 
While injuries have affected Nani, Young, and Valencia, the bigger issue is the complete dissipation of each of their confidence. Sir Alex's rotation of the three at times created a culture of competition that brought out their best; last season it saw each crumble under the
pressure and never getting any momentum from sporadic appearances.

They then had the added pressure of being the only creative outlet, unless Rooney drops deep enough to play as both striker and playmaker at the same time. Further complications came from Ferguson's brief experiment with the diamond, designed to compensate for the lack of quality in centre midfield by increasing the quantity in that area. In the end, it only put further doubt into the minds of his dropped wingers and highlighted the vulnerability of an ageing Evra, when left without cover.

Of course it is not all doom and gloom. Sir Alex left Moyes with a title-winning squad.

Rooney is recommitted to the cause and Moyes will hope a new deal sees Nani return to his form of two years ago. Fellaini offers physicality in midfield, and Sir Alex's last signing, Zaha is a fresh alternative out wide.

In United's opening fixtures, Moyes aimed for continuity; he trusted Sir Alex's emphasis on width and the services of home grown stars, old and young, like Giggs, Welbeck, and Cleverley.

Perhaps a more fruitful option for the future is to unleash the creativity of Kagawa or even young Janzuaj. Either of them, allied with Rooney and Nani in a fluid attacking three, behind Van Persie, would surely be more inventive and lead to Sir Alex's greatest end product: victorious, attacking football.

Sir Alex's 27 years created one of the greatest football legacies ever, but Moyes must now recover from a few less documented weaknesses that have hindered his ascension. From here on, Moyes must take the foundations of Sir Alex's success and improve through evolution rather than revolution.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Football
Premier League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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