The reigning champions of England have yet again taken a stumble in their title defense this season and are more likely to fight for, at best, a Champion’s League spot come the end of the season.
A draw at home to Southampton gave Moyes' men one point to increase their total tally to a measly 11 points in eight games. Here are a few key factors to what went wrong during the match.
Despite a strong team selection barring the absence of skipper Nemanja Vidic, this United squad should have been able to contest equally with a strong Saints side. Marouane Fellaini did show some interest in chasing down opponents and imposing himself but it wasn't a performance befitting a man with a £27.5million price tag. He was slow and sloppy at times, giving away the ball too easily.
Schoolboy errors that a professional footballer at this level should not be making. He allowed players to go past way too easily in his own half and ultimately did not live up to his potential this afternoon.
Wayne Rooney did show his zest and energy but seemed to be lacking form in the ball control department. He was too easily dispossessed in the final third and in the middle of the park, which more often than not resulted in a failed attack or a counter-attack for the opposing team.
Had Rooney retained the ball for the most part of the match, he could have aided United in creating chances for that much-needed second goal. It was a relief for United fans when he was subbed out.
Moyes' decision to bring on the ageing legs of Ryan Giggs was baffling. Given how Southampton were the faster team, dominating pace related challenges and using speed against United – this was definitely not a smart move.
Because of Giggs’ lack of physicality, playing him in the middle was another big mistake as he doesn’t get stuck into tackles (for his own safety) and offers little protection for the back four. The commentator made a good point when he noted Giggs being unable to get on the end of a well-timed square ball by Rooney after being beaten by the pace of the defender.
Danny Welbeck displayed his poor reaction timing and decision making ability on two crucial occasions during the match, which could have resulted in goals. The first came when he delayed playing Rooney in what would have been a lovely square ball, while the second came when he hesitated to take the ball on first time in a volley when it dropped right in front of him
with no one around him.
Physically he may be strong and fast, but the key decisions you make as a player under such circumstances define the mediocre players from the good ones. Sadly, on an afternoon when his manager counted on him to make a difference, he failed to do so.
Moyes’ small club mentality would have irked millions of fans watching the match;bringing on a defender when you are 1-0 up is hardly the United way. United would have not sat back and defended their one goal lead against Southampton on their home soil had Sir Alex been around.
An attacking player would have been introduced to chase that second goal and to keep the
pedal on the gas running until they found that goal. Chris Smalling did do his job effectively for most part after being introduced for Rooney with a couple of minutes remaining, but it was a job which either Evans or Jones could have done just as well.
They didn’t need a five man defence, they needed a creative and attacking edge going forward and the continued exile of Shinji Kagawa is still a mystery to many die hard Red Devils.
Perhaps the only positives that fans can take from this match are yet another fine display from teenager Adnan Januzaj, the consistency of Michael Carrick that has not failed United this season and not forgetting David de Gea’s ability to stop seemingly impossible shots from rattling the back of United’s net.
It was another game to forget for Manchester United and perhaps the manager needs to re-look his team selections and match tactics.
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