What We Learned: Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City

Word on the street (internet) is that Wayne Rooney is considering his options with 18 months remaining on his United contract, and stalling ahead of a renewal ahead of the World Cup. Based on the current form of the club and a number of the players around him, it’s exceptionally tough to begrudge him a stance so non-committal. United lost their fourth home game in six with a tepid performance against Swansea City, bowing out of the FA Cup in the third round for only the second time in 28 years. Here’s what stood out;

There is no Plan B

It’s something Sir Alex Ferguson rarely needed, mostly because his Plan A was often so effective, and even when it wasn’t, his teams often still had enough passion and drive to get them over the finishing line. In this instance, David Moyes is shorn of his two best players, possesses a central midfield woefully short of attacking instinct and is seeing an 18-year-old winger outshine team-mates with far greater experience. Bring that mounting injury list into your thinking, then it’s small wonder that Moyes has so few options at his disposal.

david moyes

Thing is that a point will come where the pattern flowing through the defeats to Everton, Newcastle, Spurs and now Swansea will be impossible to avoid, and Moyes will have to consider other options. It’s often the same; United have enough possession but do little with it, create too few chances and look defensively feeble. This theme is becoming so common that there must come a time where Moyes considers other options, even if they don’t feature his most attacking line-up. At present, Moyes is clinging on to a style of play and tactics that has long been found out, along with a bunch of players who are, at present, incapable of producing what he wants against sides with a lick of organisation about them. Question is, when will enough be enough in Moyes’ mind?

Fans are (so far) responding in a measured fashion

Obviously, there are those that still question David Moyes’ appointment and have done since his succession was announced in May. Changing the sort of minds who’ve insisted on declaring and tweeting for a Moyes exit isn’t an easy task, especially after these four defeats in six home games, and it’d take a most placid United fan to suggest that what we’re seeing at this present stage is completely acceptable. But we all know that there’s more at play here than persistent media faux-pas and puzzling selections from the man in the hot seat, and it’s comforting to see the majority of Old Trafford realises that.

Make no mistake, the Glazers will surely act if a breaking point is reachde; the club is a highly lucrative asset for them, after all, but as United’s season has yet to creep into unsalvageable territories, they’ll hold fire and will surely do for the foreseeable future. There is no open rebellion in the stands, but there is plenty of disappointment. Given how ruthless owners of other teams with United’s stature have been when their managers have underwhelmed, Moyes and his players must be glad of some breathing space and patience.

Of course, that comes laced with an ominous “for now.”

Buttner was one of United’s best performers

For all intents and purposes, Alexander Buttner hasn’t underperformed at Old Trafford so much as he has been inadequate for the task of left-back, at least in this side. Defensively, he’s something of a mess and frequent sojourns into attacking positions can often leave the rest of the back four in no man’s land. But yesterday, not only was he at fault for neither goal, but he was one of the best players in a red shirt.

alexander-buttner-manchester-united

We’ve seen on a few occasions that Buttner has quite a decentcross on him when given enough time, and the deep, curling ball that led to Javier Hernandez’s goal was inch-perfect for the Mexican. His work-rate and desire were a cut above a number of others, and for once, he saved a goal with a clearance from Jonathan De Guzman late on. Of course, this hardly makes Buttner a world-beater, but in the face of a number of uninspiring displays, at least the Dutchman was putting in a decent effort.

Fabio has made it easier to stay dropped

It’s a little churlish to suggest that Fabio deliberately got himself sent off just because he takes issue with how sparingly he’s been used under David Moyes; Fabio doesn’t hate the club, and would surely refrain from doing something so unilaterally stupid as this on purpose just to make a point (if he did, well…). But in one fell swoop, within four minutes of his return to the starting line-up, he was on his way down the tunnel having received his marching orders for lunging wildly at Jose Canas. There have been worse challenges this weekend, let alone this season, but the Brazilian’s will simply make it far easier for Moyes to keep him on the margins of the squad, and whichever way you look at it, that’s a sad eventuality given his talent.

fabio-da-silva

Moyes has to react

This isn’t an attempt to lump the blame squarely on the manager’s shoulders, not by any means. United’s issues are legion and not limited to the Scotsman but this is the time, with a squad short of confidence and with another game following so closely that David Moyes has to stand up and lead. Simply put, it’s his bloody job to do so.

That’s easier said than done, obviously. There are more than enough flashes and instances to suggest this bunch of players are not fully behind their new boss, and if that’s the case then Moyes as an uphill battle on his hands. But strip away all of the talk of transfers, the owners and injuries; right now, he has to do a better job of motivating the players that he has at his disposal. Even to someone who struggled to hold down a place their University’s 4th-tier team, that’s elementary. The lack of emotion shown when Hernandez equalised is forgiveable, but when things have gone awry of late, Moyes is cutting a figure so dejected that he may aswell be watching from the changing room, such is the encouragement he offers from the stands. We’ll never be privy to any emergency squad meetings at the Training Ground Formerly Known As Carrington, but you’d hope that Moyes has bottle hitherto unseen in his tenure so far to rally the troops available to him. He can treat it as a relegation dogfight if he wants, but he must combat this lethargy and inject some fight into his team.

 

16 Comments

  1. You’d have to admit, that Utd side, with 10 full internationals should have been a stronger unit than an equally injury wrecked Swansea side, missing Michu, Dyer, Hernandez, Lamah – 4 attacking options, and a back 5 that cost less than Smalling!

    Swansea also changed their 4 defenders from the Citeh game, with only Chico retaining his place. So first choices, Williams, Davies and Angel sat the game out, and their replacements showed a far more expensive set of players the hunger, desire, organisation and no little skill how to win a football match.

  2. Anybody who tries to blame Fabio for his red card is clearly a fool. He was eager to prove himself having been largely absent in since Moyes took over. The only one to blame is Moyes for contantly playing Smalling at RB when Fabio has done a more than decent job there before, when it’s clear Smalling isn’t comfortable at RB.
    No tactics to our play, lack of a clear football style and injuries even to some of our most consistent players (Rooney & Carrick) can only be be blamed on the coach. Players don’t like him & their unmotivated performances tell a lot about him – a man who has no clue of how a trophy is won. We need some new additions but we don’t need Messi to beat the likes of Swansea or Westbrom at OT, now do we?
    In David de Gea we trust, In David Moyes we rust. Peace!

  3. Anybody who tries to blame Fabio for his red card is clearly a fool. He was eager to prove himself having been largely absent in since Moyes took over. The only one to blame is Moyes for contantly playing Smalling at RB when Fabio has done a more than decent job there before, when it’s clear Smalling isn’t comfortable at RB.
    No tactics to our play, lack of a clear football style, injuries to some of our most consistent players and forcing players to play through injuries. The players don’t like him & their unmotivated performances tell a lot about him – a man who has no clue of how a trophy is won. We need some new additions but we don’t need Messi to beat the likes of Swansea or Westbrom at OT, now do we?
    In David de Gea we trust, In David Moyes we rust. Peace!

  4. Well written article,i’ve honestly thought this team needs more motivation from DM on and off the pitch;Its his team for christ sake.We would come good with time once Moyes runs things more and better.

  5. I totally agree with Harry, the least we could hace done with 10 men was hold on to that draw. That being said, the players showed a lack of quality, hunger and determination. For crying out loud Swansea were missing a host of first team players and yet they showed they wanted to win the match more. United players need to buckle up quicly before the season becomes a total mess.

  6. Smalling look tired in this match moyes should have start with fabio then the red card may not happen. Welbeck,evans,clversly all looks tired bad selection moyes

  7. These player tired and moyes keep playing them. Why he does not start with these: lindergard,fabio,ferdinand,vidic,buttner,valencia or zaha,carrick,fletcher,macheda,kagawa,chicharito.

  8. I was hoping that loan player has return such as j.lingard and macheda so its will help moyes in selection but no he prefer to go with tired player. Macheda has been used in league cup and fa cup even champion league by sir alex why the hell he did not played him

  9. Have we forgotten last season United got a bit lucky some games and did,nt do very well in champions leage or europe leage.There will allways be injuries and United have been a bit unlucky in some games.Think we all know the owners arnt going to break the bank.Things have changed this season ManU is seventh cause there are six teams that are better.No excuses for Moyes though start getting the tactics right or go.

  10. I wanted Moyes at the outset, and nothing has changed my mind, although I share much disappointment at the never ending run of defeats against teams we would murder in seasons past. Moyes must be given time or we will just return to the dark days of the early 1970s, and those times were unbearable. We hear rumours about Moyes’ training techniques not suiting certain players, his team selection timing, and other things that we’d not heard about before but the man is not an idiot and he will get us back on track. My puzzle is why Zaha has not been given a run out (not a twenty minutes here or there) and why Young, Anderson and Nani continue to be selected when we have so many good youngsters out on loan. I hope we have a clear-out of the dead-wood and bring in some fresh faces along with our young loaned-out hopefuls. I suggest that everyone reads ‘Lean Times’ a chapter in Fergie’s autobiography, it might inspire those who feel all is lost and shut the mouths of those who only cheered when we were winning.

  11. Excellent article, Iwan, great analysis.

    Do you remember the days when the League Cup team was full of kids rather than first team regulars? Well I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a bunch of the U21s turn out at against Sunderland tonight. They would be enthusiastic, energetic, speedy, adventurous and probably fearless. It would be great day in their lives and who’s to say that they couldn’t get a result against the bottom team.

    Will not happen of course. Instead we’ll see the same faces who are turning feeble, insipid, lumbering, clueless, below par performances into the norm.

    • If he puts out an under 21 side, like Allardici did on the weekend, and a hungry, experienced Sunderland rip you a new one, your fans will, rightly, go beserk!

      this is your only, realistic chance of silverware this season. You need to grab it, and hope it drags your season back on track.

      Fergie gave Moyes a hospital pass with the squad he left, but it should still be good enough to win most games. It has flaws to hit the top 4 – central defence and central midfield, but it is a squad full of internationals.

      What annoys most fans from other clubs though that beat you, is that those clubs are given no recognition of how well they have played. It is all about how poor Man Utd were.

      Moyes has always been a nemesis against the Swans. But because of the balance of the team he has been left, he continues to play Fergie’s 4-4-2, which played into our hands, as he didn’t have v.P fit to terrorise us like he did at the Liberty.

      4-4-2, even when SAF was in charge offers us the space to play our football. And as long as we don’t make howlers (Chico sleeping for Chicarito’s goal) or RvP, Rooney or Wellbeck all missing or not on fire of last season, then we will damage you.

      Maybe he needs to get radical, and switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 to get the best out of this squad, hope he hits the top 4, and make major surgery in the summer. Miss the top 4, and you will struggle to get the BEST players (or the most expensive ones). You can still get top 4 and win stuff though without spending gazilions.

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