In the wake of Manchester United's underwhelming win against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the inquest of David Moyes seems to be continuing despite a seemingly decent result.
The first thing United fans need to acknowledge after today's game is the fact that a win is a win, despite how ugly. One of the commentators said it best when he mentioned that the "United machine continues to chug on".
Fans are deluding themselves in complaining that "Moyes is playing ugly football." There were spells of the season under Sir Alex Ferguson in which United would grind out a long series of "ugly wins" - 1-0 wins from penalties and own goals, red cards, even off bad back passes among other things.
As long as Fergie kept winning, nobody questioned him. True, Moyes had dropped points against two of United's biggest rivals (including a loss against the one team United hates to lose to more than anyone), but those are hard games. It's too soon to unilaterally declare Moyes either a success or failure - seven points from four games isn't too bad, after all.
That said, the game against Palace could definitely have gone better. All the United haters out there have taken to their electronic devices spreading messages that "United pay the refs" and such.
The first thing I want to clear up is that the tackle was in fact a penalty - and was a red card. Young was in a goalscoring position and despite his propensity to dive, there was clear contact. The chance, however, came from a bad pass right to Young's feet. United got lucky. They honestly weren't creating much. Young and Valencia were very rarely beating their men, and when they did, put in often abysmal crosses.
Valencia, in particular, needs to stop drilling his crosses into the ground - they never clear the first man. Moyes very clearly set up his team in such a way that he expected the threat to come from the wing. This isn't the first time he had used this tactic either. Both against Liverpool and Chelsea, he set up to let his wingers he creative. There is just one problem with this tactic: it just isn't working.
Crosses rarely meet their targets, and more often than not wingers get forced back before even being able to set up a chance. Van Persie and Rooney both seem to like pulling off their respective defenders to the back post. Too bad Young and Valencia always go near. There seems to be a lack of coordination in the team. Whether that will change as the season proceeds remains to be seen, but Moyes doesn't have to time to risk letting the title challenge slip away.
One thing I really don't understand is why Anderson continues to get a place in the team. Again at the weekend, he was abysmal - misplacing passes and losing the ball in midfield. It is pretty clear that he isn't a centre midfielder. He likes to beat his player more often than he passes, and to he honest he's better at beating his man.
Either way, Carrick and Anderson has never worked before and never will. Better to shift Carrick deeper and give Anderson the freedom and security to roam if Moyes must play him. Shinji Kagawa too could thrive in the position. I've long advocated setting up with Carrick to anchor Kagawa and hopefully we will see this combination as the year continues. On a brighter note, Adnan Januzaj was fantastic.
Moyes isn't managing Everton anymore - he's managing Manchester United. That comes with the expectation that you win, and continue winning. With Everton, Moyes could set up for a draw and deploy tactics respectively. There are too many failed long balls, too many failed crosses, and a grave lack of chance creation. Moyes needs to either rethink his winger strategy or offer a creative option down the middle. Waybe Rooney was fantastic but he can't orchestrate every attack.
It's time to dump Valencia and Young - time to bring in Kagawa. If United want to compete for the title this year, they are going to need a change in tactics. Setting up in the formation below would definitely ensure United score plenty of goals.
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