Andre Villas-Boas and David Moyes, though not exactly in the same degree of trouble, are two men who are not having the best of times in their respective dugouts.
One faced with the pressure of filling the largest coaching shoes in the history of the game while the other is constantly being put under the microscope after a summer of lavish spending has not had the expected and desired effect on the pitch.
So what exactly can these two young, aspiring managers do to avert the doom and gloom cloud hovering above their respective training grounds.
The Scot has found life in the Old Trafford hot-seat rough and things seemed to take a turn for the better after the win over Arsenal but the dropped points at Cardiff have eroded much of the talk that the Red Devils have turned a corner. Being injury hit, Moyes was forced into fielding a much changed team against the Welsh outfit and United struggled. By pairing Fellaini
with Cleverley in the middle, Moyes tried to offset Carrick’s absence by matching brawn with guile but United’d center looked all at sea for most of the match.
Mutch threaded in Campbell after finding room in-between United’s midfield and defence and the ex-United man really should have punished Tom Cleverley’s sloppy pass behind but could only strike the woodwork. Fellaini looks more and more out of place in United’s middle and there is talk of him being the next Anderson and Ashley Young of the club. He did have two opportunities to score with his head but failed to provide the uncompromising protection to the back four, much like Wanyama does for Southampton or Mikel does for Chelsea.
Out wide, Antonio Valencia once again put in a typical shift full of running but with little end-product. The Ecuadorian only provided one moment of note when he seized upon a poor pass from the back to set up Rooney for the opener. Januzaj was crowded out every time he tried to fashion something and Chicharito was left isolated upfront. Therein lays United’s main problem.
Without creativity through the middle, United always relied on their famed wing play for inspiration. From George Best to Giggs and Beckham all the way through to to Ronaldo, United could look up to their wingers to create and score. Without a Scholes or Keane in the middle of the park, this reliance has become chronic in recent times. Since United lack that out and out goal scorer or creator from the middle, they always depend upon their strikers
for goals, who in turn complete the conveyor belt by feeding off the supply from wide. Since last season, that supply has dwindled drastically.
Moyes needs to get his wingers firing. In all truth he does not really have much to work with, I mean, Valencia’s first season was phenomenal but he is a one-dimensional player and his ways have been learned, Nani is a bag of tricks but is horribly inconsistent, Ashley Young is even worse and his diving has eroded even the little respect that was left for him. That is why
there is so much hope and hype over 18 year old Januzaj, United have little else to look forward to. So Moyes needs to try and play Nani more often, help him regain his confidence, teach him to track back and instruct him to use his head more than he gives in to his instinct. Nani can be devastating on his day and at the moment, is much better at going forward than Valencia.
Moyes also needs to play Kagawa, in his preferred position. RVP’s injury presented the perfect opportunity to do just that. By playing Rooney up top, Kagawa could have featured behind him and dove-tailed perfectly with the Englishman. Moyes really needs to start believing in the Japanese and trusting him. Also, he could have brought Anderson on rather than Giggs to give his side thrust in the middle of the park. Anderson’s driving runs would have been perfect for a Cardiff side that was tiring as they searched for an equaliser
and the Brazilian would have exploited the space left in behind.
Finally, United’s players really need to step up for their manager. This is practically the same squad that won the league last season so there is no reason they should be producing such inept performances. Senior squad members like Vidic, Rio, Evra, Nani really need to rally the troops. The over-reliance on Rooney and Van Persie is becoming chronic to the team and in
the absence of one or both, United falters.
In preparation for Gareth Bale’s world-record transfer to Madrid, Villas Boas went on a summer shopping spree and blew the Premier League’s spending ceiling off. Spurs spent almost all of Bale’s money on new players and it must be said, some of the recruitment was deserving of a pat on the back. Soldado, Eriksen, Paulinho, Lamela, Chiriches and Chadli are some of the names that are now at White Hart Lane and the expectation among Spurs fans
sky-rocketed. What followed has been an anti-climax of metronomic proportions.
Spurs have flattered to deceive for most of the season so far. Soldado has only scored penalties, Lamela only has one goal (not in the league) and no assists, Eriksen is out injured, Chadli has been flat while Chiriches has looked suspect at the back. Another summer recruit, Etienne Capoue, had a disappointing outing against Arsenal before he got injured while
Defoe is still not being played despite free-scoring in the Europa League. Andros Townsend has been their brightest player so far this season but even he has scored only once and has no assists. Bleak times at the Lane.
Villas Boas, for starters, needs to settle on a formation and a first eleven. The constant chopping and changing is doing more harm than good and robs the team of any continuity. Soldado is being starved of service because of his manager’s preference for inverted wingers. Townsend has taken more shots on goal than any other player in the league, with most of them troubling fans rather than goal-keepers.
Lewis Holtby has struggled in that trequartista role in behind the striker and Villas Boas desperately needs Eriksen back. The Dane is sharper, thinks faster and has much more imagination than the German and it has shone every time the Dane has started or missed a match. The left side of Tottenham also needs to be sorted out. Jan Vertonghen has been filling in at left-back, begrudgingly of course, and he has been solid rather than spectacular. The effect of this is that the Belgian’s presence is missed in the center of defence where Spurs have been particularly vulnerable of late. Dawson and Kaboul have moments where they lose concentration and they are not the best readers of the game. Vertonghen is fast, strong in the tackle, reads the game well and is a calming influence at the center. He can also play the ball well from the back and organises the defence and the midfield as well.
Villas-Boas needs to move Lamela to the left or play Chadli or Townsend there so that more crosses will be delivered into the box. Soldado was prolific at Valencia because, more often than not, he used to receive balls from the wing rather than the middle and to get the best out of him, Spurs need to start replicating that. Lennon would be perfect for Soldado since he
is an out and out winger and usually has great deliveries into the area. It is time the other wingers started doing the same.
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