Looking lifeless after an initial bright start at Manchester United

David Moyes

David Moyes may be thankful to a degree that an international break has arrived. He’ll have time to reassess, to figure out the tweaks in the system that need to be made, and ask what has caused two utterly lifeless performances from Manchester United.

There was confidence that after six goals over two games at the start of the campaign, the Moyes era at Manchester United would be smooth sailing, or at least smoother than it has been. However, following the two major tests thus far against Chelsea and Liverpool, United’s on-pitch performances have mirrored the ineffectual activity in the transfer market. The football wasn’t always great under Alex Ferguson, but it got results. This season’s team, and admittedly it’s only following three league games, looks to be a step away from what we’ve seen in the past.

For the past two Premier League games Robin van Persie has been isolated up front. The service from midfield has been non-existent, with Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young combining for very little attacking ingenuity from the flanks. Shinji Kagawa, who on paper would be the perfect supply line for van Persie, remains on the bench and frustrated by a lack of minutes. Yes, it’s still early days, but the problems are very much out in the open.

What seems to be the case is that Moyes wants to avoid improving United’s traditional and successful means of attack by upgrading the team’s wingers. Giggs is no longer what he used to be, though that goes without saying. Nani is inconsistent and for much of the last year looked to be heading for the exit. As for Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, you’d have to seriously ask what they bring to the team as regulars, or possible regulars in the starting XI.

The problem is there’s no adventure to United’s play. It’s as if Moyes hasn’t totally realised that he’s made the jump from underdogs to a team who are normally considered the top dog. At Everton, the football improved somewhat last season, but there was often a lot of talk about the valiant efforts of those in the backline, as if they were holding on to a result. At United, it doesn’t work like that and it never should. As was seen against Chelsea, Wayne Rooney was brought in, but how much instruction was there overall to go for the win at home to a title rival?

The integration of Kagawa should be key. Moyes spent all summer chasing a creative midfielder to no success. What if Ander Herrera had completed a move from Athletic Bilbao? Would he have been used sparingly from the bench because he’s too creative and forward thinking? It may be a ridiculous question to ask, but we’re seeing that in the lack of involvement of Kagawa, comfortably the team’s most creative midfielder.

Losing isn’t a disaster. Bayern Munich, the best team in Europe at the moment, have lost games over the past year. A good run of form will always come to an end, but generally you have an understanding of what to expect from the biggest teams around Europe; sometimes their best efforts aren’t good enough to counter the best from the other side. But this United side seem to be lacking a direction, or at least an attacking one. Losing at Anfield to a Liverpool side who are clearly in form is no great shame, it happens. Losing in the manner United did and off the back of a throwaway performance against Chelsea is certainly cause for concern.

Is there cause for concern following United’s lifeless performances in the league?

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