Things are going slightly better at Old Trafford. Since the humiliating and alarming loss at home to West Bromwich, Manchester United have gone on an eight game unbeaten run, and are now just three points off the second spot in the league. After last night’s goalless draw against Real Sociedad, they are also in a strong position to win their group in the Champions League. A season that began with concerns about Moyes’s ability to manage the champions, and escalated in to a media perception of catastrophic proportions, is about to pick itself up.
Yet, the composed but toothless performance against Sociedad suggests that there are still concerns in the United team.
But firstly, let’s establish one thing: Manchester United were never threatened last night. A point away to the fourth best team in Spain is hardly a disaster, and the Reds bossed the home team, creating enough clear cut chances to kill the game. The frailness that weighed them down in the opening league games look resolved, but I have one major problem with David Moyes’s United. They seem so reluctant to attack.
There’s a caution about Man United now that we never saw during Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26-year reign. I spotted it the first time in the home draw to Chelsea in the second round of the Premier League. Although they displayed good balance and composure in that game, there was no edge nor desire to really test Mourinho’s defense. The new manager can be excused for not risking conceding a silly goal, but as reigning champions, United are expected to threaten any back four, especially at home.
That game faded out in a boring scoreless draw. I am convinced that the Red Devils of old would have had a go. Even opportunities to counter attack were measured and considered to the degree that they lost the advantage of running at an unorganized defense. The same thing happened against Sociedad. The ball was moved around the pitch at a snugly, complacent pace, and I got the feeling they were more concerned with not loosing than winning.
Even in-form Wayne Rooney looked unwilling to properly run at the Spanish back four. Had the emphasis before the game been on winnning convincingly and secure progression from the group stages, we would have seen Rooney move the ball quicker through the middle, demand that his teammates made quick transitions, and force them to hassle Sociedad when dispossessed. Instead he looked happy to take the draw.
The midfield constellation of Ryan Giggs and Marouane Fellaini suffered from the same attacking apathy. Even if they are defensive midfielders, at the level United should aspire to achieve, they should initiate attacks and put the ball in the danger areas. Furthermore, Fellaini had one of his better performances so far, looking comfortable on the ball, and making few mistakes. But the few he made got him sent off, and this will not make his attempt to settle down in Manchester any easier. You can call the refs decision harsh, but the second yellow, received for his 639th clumsy challenge of the night, was in my opinion fair enough.
What kept Moyes’s men from claiming all three points in the end was wasteful finishing. You would put your kidneys on Chicharito to score a tap in, but this time the Mexican skied his shot. Van Persie should have converted from the spot, though the post seemed to embody karma itself when it kept Claudio Bravo’s sheet clean. Ashley Young’s pathetic dive further disgraced the reputation of a player that have yet to contribute to single positive event this season. No doubt, Moyes’s patience with the winger must be running on fumes, and I can’t see him appearing in the starting XI any time soon.
However, in the long run, I expect David Moyes to succeed at United, and I will not start posting #MoyeOut tweets on my Twitter account. Though I’m not sure his cautious approach is doing him any favors at the moment. This weekend’s clash with Arsenal gives the Red Devils an opportunity against the in-form team in England to prove that they intend to retain the title in May.
Question is – will Moyes try to score more or concede less than his opponent?
Is David Moyes being to cautious at Old Trafford?
Have your say below.